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Great thinkers and common laypeople have pondered ultimate mysteries since before recorded time. Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe? Until fairly recently, there was complete mystery as to what the universe was comprised of and how far it extended. Many of these questions remain but the knowledge of the properties and dynamics of the cosmos has, to a great degree,` been wrested from ignorance by technology and determination from scientists, researchers and foundations.

But the answer to one of the fundamental questions remains stubbornly elusive: What happens when we die? Perhaps, like the possible solutions to other seemingly insurmountable dilemmas, it is the nature of the question itself that should be addressed. What is death anyway? It is generally understood to be the cessation of bodily function; no brainwaves, no heartbeat nor respiration of breath. That point at which decay begins to affect the mortal remains. Conversely, The question might be asked, What is life? Is it a conscious state, an awareness of reality witnessed according to sensory receptors available at a given moment in time?

The etymology of the word ‘question’ forms the identical root of the word ‘quest.’ This paper will strive to form a literal quest for the grail of understanding. It will serve to provide an unequivocal determination as to the proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of consciousness surviving what is commonly referred to as ‘death’.

Frank Zappa begins his song, Absolutely Free with the words:
The first word in this song is discorporate. It means to leave your body. 

Discorporate & come with me
Shifting; drifting
Cloudless; starless

Velvet Valleys & A Sapphire Sea

Wah Wah

Unbind your mind
There is no time
To lick your stamps
And paste them in
And we’ll begin...

What is the best available evidence for the survival of human consciousness after permanent bodily death?

The most poetic source for evidence of life after death would be the Pyramid Texts [2400 BCE] and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, [1550 BCE to around 50 BCE]. The journey through the Duat has its parallels in nearly all other traditions around the world and this nearly makes the case itself. For over a millennium, the Egyptians refined their knowledge, established rites and initiated a formula to understand what happens when we die. Plato stated in the 4th century BC that the question about life after death had an affirmative answer and the Greek philosopher wrote one of his dialogues, the Phaedo, listing arguments proving immortality.    

Plato also described an NDE event in “Myth of Er,” written in 380 BCE. The Myth of Er is a legend that concluded Plato’s Republic, which includes an account of the cosmos and the afterlife that greatly influenced religious, philosophical, and scientific thought for many centuries. For Plato, the very purpose of life is to remember that journey between lives, that pilgrimage between death and birth, to uncover that transcendent vision of Light revealed in NDE reports.

For over a thousand-years, the Tibetan text Bardo Thodol, translated as "Liberation Through Understanding in the Between", the Tibetan Book of the Dead has aided persons assisting the dying with comfort and spiritual liberation. In this, it is akin to the Anointing of the sick in the Catholic tradition. The descriptions of the afterlife commented on by these and even more ancient societies have their parallels in modern accounts collected by researchers such as Dr. Bruce Greyson [b. 1946] and IANDS [International Association of Near Death Studies]. The common denominators that can now be globally connected testify to these experience’s universality and with the rise of services such as we are able to pinpoint where if not how these connections are made.

Reaction-diffusion equations

Alan Turing [1912-1954] explained his theory of Morphogenesis as the biological process that causes a cell, tissue or organism to develop its shape. He theorized that identical biological cells differentiate and change shape through a process called intercellular reaction-diffusion.

If this process describes evolving living structures, then it is surmised that some variety of the same processes are formed when consciousness can no longer be supported by the body.  Our embryological process of learning, investigating and applying has been our natural state and life after death can be interpreted in the same way. The mechanical process involving stress, strain and movement of cells could be considered when exploring the way that the brain / mind processes information and experiences. Depending on the vibrational structure of dreams, trances, nostalgia, hallucinations brought on by natural drugs, Yoga, prayer, even sexual release in copulation, states of existence are continually happening in a type of stasis until they are remembered and relived directly. It could be said that we die to our waking consciousness every evening but it is retained in memory, and continues to exist.

It is believed that Quantum waves are in a spiral form similar to galaxies or pinecones and the evolution of pattern formation is consistent with both the natural world and that which is presented here. Fractal geometry and the mathematical discoveries by Benoit Mandelbrot [1924-2010] and others can now be visualized by computers and illustrate this concept in beautifully realized imagery. The idea of self-similarity provides us with a way to visually represent what we shall encounter in the next life and it is the same as we experience every night as we fall asleep.

The underlying pattern making forces shown by Chaos Theory as explained by Edward Lorenz [1917–2008] show that it is natural for vibrational waves to be expressed in a way that explains how we experience reality in the next world. The transition between the state of living and consciousness being released would naturally be chaotic at first until the interconnectedness coalesces and the new reality appears to the senses.

There are innumerable accounts by licensed clinicians that have demonstrated a clarity of recall in subjects involving hypnosis and other mind controlling techniques that defy our traditional understanding of the capabilities of the mind. It is believed that Quantum waves are in a spiral form similar to galaxies or pinecones and the evolution of pattern formation is consistent with both the natural world and that which is presented here.

Ingo Swann[1933 – 2013] is a remarkable source for the concept of remote viewing. Along with Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, he proposed and carried out the 'Stargate Project, a 1991 secret US Army unit within the Defense Intelligence Agency, along with SRI International, of Stanford Research Institute. Now separate from Stanford University, it continues to research and develop techniques that lend credence to the mind’s ability to transcend the limitations of the body. Although skeptics were able to demonstrate flaws in the methodology, the results from SRI and their equivalents in other countries testify to the value of their findings.

Another area of considerable interest that sheds light on the extra functions of the human body that is beginning to be understood is the concept of the 'Human Biofield'. It is a sphere of activity of energy generated within an organism that surrounds a living system engaged in the generation, maintenance, and regulation of biological homeodynamics and physiological functions of the system it surrounds. Commonly referred to as auras and vibes, these measureable faculties are interpreted as a way of understanding the function of areas of the body not completely utilized by our waking consciousness. Biofield tuning is an accepted practice that is supported by and engages with energy in our environment. It is one reason why individuals seeking greater access to unlocked mental potential seek out gurus, clairvoyants and other teachers of higher thought. It is believed that by surrounding oneself with individuals that have achieved a higher level of psychic ability, it is possible to realign one’s health in accordance with electromagnetic fields. Though this type of study is commonly utilized to treat body dysfunction such as pain management and debilitating depression, it can also be applied to understand the extensions of our physical bodies. One practitioner, Eileen McKusick, uses a tuning fork in her therapy sessions to help create an optimal flow of electromagnetic energy by sending out vibrations that detect a physical or emotional imbalance. If this practice were applied to those who have had Near-Death Experiences, it would reveal further electromagnetic properties that survive beyond this physical plane of existence.

Another health care practitioner and researcher of note in exploring alternate avenues of existence would be Elizabeth Targ [1961–2002]. One of her areas of research that she pioneered was in distance healing and the power of prayer. In 1997, Dr. Targ designed a study and secured funding from the National Institutes of Health to explore distant healing and prayer as trainable skills that nurses and other health professionals might integrate into their healing work. This study opens the possibility that the mind is capable of affecting dimensions beyond our normal understanding and beyond its health care benefits, further demonstrates how mental functions can be developed to enhance our consciousness and exist outside our present dimension.

Supporting evidence from Nikola Tesla [1856-1943] elucidates this idea and quotes are offered here:

“Life is an equation incapable of solution- but it contains certain known factors.”

“To me the universe is simply a marvelous mechanism, and the most complex forms of human life, as human beings, are nothing else but automatic engines, controlled by external influence. Through incessant observation I have so convinced myself of the truth of this that I cannot perform any act or even conceive a thought without locating at once the external stimulus that prompted it.”

“Granted a planetary system, it is absolutely inevitable that in the course of eons such organized beings as we are will evolve. The cooling of the hot masses results in a precipitation of water, and under the influence of the sun’s rays heliotropic action takes place and life is started. Through chemical and other agents and continuous adjustment complex mechanisms come into being, and these ultimately develop into structures of marvelous complexity with capacities of response to the faintest stimulae from the environment.”

“When we realize this as a fact we begin to grasp the great idea of Buddha – that self is an illusion. Indeed, we are nothing but waves in space and time which when dissolved exist no more.”

“I have searched during many years for some process or means to test the possibility of future existence by scientific experiment, and I have devised one, which, to my great disappointment, has failed. But perhaps some more skillful experimenter might succeed if I suggest to him the course. To put it briefly, it is this:

“Our bodies are composed of molecules of various elements, harmoniously united. Do these molecules retain any after-effect when the body is dissolved? To ascertain this take, say, two molecules of hydrogen from the body of an individual and also one molecule of oxygen. Furthermore, provide another molecule of oxygen taken from some other body. Now place the two molecules of hydrogen so they can combine with the oxygen, and if they prefer that molecule of oxygen with which they were previously united, then reincarnation is proved. For, though it may take ages and ages, ultimately the molecules which constituted that body will get together again, just as in a vast city individuals from a distant land finally meet and establish close contact.”

To be fair, Tesla also wrote:

In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call “soul ” or “spirit,” is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the “soul” or the “spirit” ceases likewise.“

This also appears to be the view of Stephen Hawking,[1942-2018] who has described the brain as like a computer that will simply shut off. "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." 

Albert Einstein [1879-1955] gave considerable thought to the subject of reality and theorized about an infinite number of alternate realities. He expressed it in this way:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.”

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.”

Cardiologist, Pim van Lommels [b.1943] notes, “It is not possible to reduce consciousness to neural processes as conceived by contemporary neuroscience. A fresh understanding is required. According to recent studies, the current materialistic view of the relationship between the brain and consciousness held by most physicians, philosophers, and psychologists is too restricted for a proper interpretation of this phenomenon."

It is possible to measure the chemical, magnetic and electrical activities in the brain by machine and we can measure changes in blood flow, but these are only neural correlates of consciousness. These measurements do not explain anything about the production nor about the content of consciousness. One subject of his paper wrote, “Death is only the end of our physical aspects.” But we should acknowledge that research on NDE cannot give us the irrefutable scientific proof of this conclusion, because people with an NDE did not quite die, but they all were very close to death, and without a functioning brain. However, it has now been scientifically proven that during NDE enhanced consciousness was experienced independently of a functioning brain. Without a body we still can have conscious experiences, we are still conscious beings.

According to two leading scientists, Stuart Hameroff [b.1947], an American Physicist and Emeritus in the Department of Anesthesiology and Psychology, and Sir Roger Penrose [b.1931], a mathematical physicist at Oxford University, who have worked in a Quantum Theory of Consciousness, the human brain is, in fact, a ‘biological computer’ and the ‘consciousness of humans’ is a program run by the quantum computer located inside the brain that even continues to exist after we ‘die.’ As they explain it; after people die, their soul comes back to the universe, and it does not die’.

They state that the soul is maintained in microtubules of the brain cells. Their theory explains that the human soul is contained by the brain cells in structures inside them called microtubules. Furthermore, both scientists argue that what humans perceive as ‘consciousness’ is the result of ‘quantum gravity’ effects located within the so-called ‘microtubules.’

The theory indicates that when people enter a phase known as ‘clinical death,’ the microtubules located in the brain lose their quantum state but maintain the information contained within them.

Speaking to the Science Channel’s Through the Wormhole documentary, Dr. Hameroff explains:

“Let’s say the heart stops beating, the blood stops flowing; the microtubules lose their quantum state. The quantum information within the microtubules is not destroyed, it can’t be destroyed, and it just distributes and dissipates to the universe at large. If the patient is resuscitated, revived, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and the patient says “I had a near-death experience.” If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul.”

According to this theory, the human souls are more than just ‘interactions’ of neurons in our brain and could have been present since the beginning of time.

Edgar Cayce[1877–1945], eminent clairvoyant, gave over 21,000 readings over his lifetime. While most of these readings related to health issues, he did address more esoteric matters. These readings emphasized the reality of reincarnation and Karma. For him, they are instruments of God and not simply natural laws. Teaching spiritual lessons seems to be the purpose of life. According to Cayce, our souls between lifetimes might be spent on other planets or their spiritual counterparts. He also asserted that in accordance with astrology, the position of the planets at our birth conveys these influences.

Cayce believed that human souls are created with a consciousness in order to be one with God, and according to him, they should find their way back to God. He felt that while some have fallen from this awareness, others have volunteered to save them. He further believed that earth was created as an arena for spiritual growth and that dreams can be an avenue by which God speaks to us. He did not fully embrace mediumship as a way to communicate with deceased spirits because the entities contacted in this way might be suspect of deception. He maintained that the focus should be on Christ and his teachings.

Although skeptics would point to Casey’s theories on the existence of the mythical land of Atlantis, his speculation on polygenesis and his belief in a giant solar crystal, activated by the sun to provide energy to Atlantis, it remains clear that Casey was able to enter a psychic state that allowed access to states of awareness that are not readily understood by mainstream science.

Edgar Cayce’s thoughts were echoed by Father Malachi Martin [1921–1999], ex-Jesuit and Catholic priest and official exorcist who warned of engaging with the “Middle Plateau.” In a series of interviews with radio host Art Bell, Fr. Martin explains the dynamics of metaphysical realms where demons, angels and other entities operate and influence affairs on this plane of existence. Though never claiming to be psychic, he expounded on the influence of evil energy and of diabolic bargains made by the ‘Perfectly Possessed’. Privy to the third secret of Fatima, Martin was highly critical of Vatican departures from strict adherence to original church dogma and received papal dispensation to be relieved from his vows to express his views in fictional books.

As someone intimately concerned with the journey of the soul, Martin expounds thoughtfully on aspects of the afterlife that have profound impact on our understanding of the nature of consciousness and how that transcends the human body. He warns of the use of Ouija boards and spirit mediums as a way to communicate with deceased entities and recognizes that nefarious spirits can use these avenues to infect and harass well-meaning but naïve practitioners.

Carl Jung [1875 – 1961] studies convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material gain. He maintained that an individual’s earthly task is to discover and fulfill the potential and that this journey of transformation, what he called individuation, is at the heart of all religious traditions. For Jung, it is a journey to meet the self and also to meet God.

Jung states in a scholarly treatise, “Although there is no way to marshal valid proof of continuance of the soul after death, there are nevertheless experiences which make us thoughtful. I take them as hints, and do not presume to ascribe to them the significance of insights.” He gives great weight to dreams, intuition and the concept of synchronicity and ascribes death as the soul attaining its missing half and thereby achieving wholeness.

Itzhak Bentov [1923 – 1979] was an inventor, scientist, author and mystic. He was also an early advocate of what has come to be referred to as consciousness studies and in particular how it related to physiology. In his 1977 book, "Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness," he wrote that "Consciousness permeates everything."

One of Bentov’s inventions was a seismographic device to record the heartbeat, in particular the aorta's reverberations. Author and retired adjunct professor, Marc Seifer [b.1947] described the results, "During normal breathing, the reverberations in the aorta are out of phase with the heartbeat and the system is inharmonious. However, during meditation and when the breath is held, the echo off the bifurcation of the aorta is in resonance with the heartbeat and the system becomes synchronized, thus utilizing a minimum amount of energy. This resonant beat is approximately seven cycles per minute, which corresponds not only to the alpha rhythm of the brain but also to the low-level magnetic pulsations of the Earth." According to Bentov, “There is no limit to the extent of human cosmic consciousness. It can expand to fill the universe, and then you can talk to the Creator. You can talk to all the beings, who are gods; you have a diplomatic visa to infinity.”

Bentov said that we each create our own reality. He explained: “It’s just a trip back home to reunite with your own Self. We are the creators, the producers and the consumers of our own reality, because we are the consciousness itself.”

Cognitive scientist, Douglas Hofstadter [b.1945] has a deeply personal interest in the nature of consciousness. His wife Carol Ann Bush died unexpectedly of a brain tumor, leaving him with two small children. His views on consciousness are related in his prize-winning book, “Godel, Escher, Bach”. He describes it as an emergent consequence of seething, low-level activity in the brain.

He further describes “a level-crossing feedback loop”, an example of which is the self-referential structure at the heart of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems that are concerned with the provability of formal axiomatic theories. Hofstadter claims in his book, “I Am a Strange Loop” that each human “I” is distributed over numerous brains, rather than being limited to one.

It is instructive here to cite George Ivanovich Gurdjieff [1866–1877], philosopher, teacher, composer and developer of a system described as the 'Fourth Way'. The Fourth Way combines and harmonizes what he saw as three established traditional "ways" or "schools": those of the mind, the emotions, and the body, or of monks, fakirs and yogis, respectively. His students, notably the esotericist P. D. Ouspensky, [1879-1947] often refer to the Fourth Way as "The Work."

Gurdjieff believed that people cannot perceive reality in their current condition because they do not possess a unified consciousness but rather live in a state of a hypnotic "waking sleep".

"Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies. As a result of this each person perceives things from a completely subjective perspective.” He asserted that people in their typical state function as unconscious automatons, but that a person can "wake up" and become a different sort of human being altogether.

Some contemporary researchers claim Gurdjieff's concept of self-remembering is close to the Buddhist concept of awareness or the popular definition of “mindfulness.”

Robert Lanza, M.D, scientist, theoretician, and author of “Biocentrism” – How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, thinks there are many reasons why we don’t die. Lanza’s Biocentrism theory is based on his idea that our definition of death is simply an illusion created by our consciousness.

He asserts that Quantum physics laws tell us that ‘life” is not made of matter but of vibrations that escape time and space. Switching perspective from physics to biology opens the cage in which Western science has unwittingly confined itself and releases us from the worldview of life being merely the activity of an admixture of carbon and a few other elements; it suggests that life is fundamentally immortal.

Lanza speculates that our science fails to recognize the special properties of life that make it fundamental to material reality. This view of the world—biocentrism—revolves around the way a subjective experience, which we call consciousness, relates to a physical process.

His theory would unite all known phenomena under one umbrella, furnishing science with an all-encompassing explanation of nature or reality.

He states that we have failed to protect science against speculative extensions of nature, continuing to assign physical and mathematical properties to hypothetical entities beyond what is observable in nature. The ether of the 19th century, the “spacetime” of Einstein, and the string theory of recent decades, which posits new dimensions showing up in different realms, and not only in strings but in bubbles shimmering down the byways of the universe—all these are examples of this speculation. Indeed, unseen dimensions are now envisioned everywhere.

Without perception, there is in effect no reality. Nothing has existence unless some living creature perceives it, and how it is perceived further influences that reality. Even time itself is not exempted from biocentrism. Our sense of the forward motion of time is really the result of an infinite number of decisions that only seem to be a smooth continuous path. At each moment we are at the edge of a paradox known as 'The Arrow', first described 2,500 years ago by the philosopher Zeno of Elea. Starting logically with the premise that nothing can be in two places at once, he reasoned that an arrow is only in one place during any given instance of its flight. But if it is in only one place, it must be at rest. The arrow must then be at rest at every moment of its flight. Logically, motion is impossible. But is motion impossible? Or rather, is this analogy proof that the forward motion of time is not a feature of the external world but a projection of something within us? Time is not an absolute reality but an aspect of our consciousness.

This paradox lies at the heart of one of the great revolutions of 20th-century physics, a revolution that has yet to take hold of our understanding of the world and of the decisive role that consciousness plays in determining the nature of reality. The uncertainty principle in quantum physics is more profound than its name suggests. It means that we make choices at every moment in what we can determine about the world. We cannot know with complete accuracy a quantum particle’s motion and its position at the same time—we have to choose one or the other. Thus the consciousness of the observer is decisive in determining what a particle does at any given moment.

Therefore, most of the comprehensive theories regarding an all-encompassing explanation of nature or reality are no more than stories that fail to take into account one crucial factor:

We are creating them. It is the biological creature that makes observations, names what it observes, and creates stories. 

Consciousness cannot exist without a living, biological creature to embody its perceptive powers of creation. Therefore we must turn to the logic of life, to biologic, if we are to understand the world around us. Quantum mechanics in many ways threatens not only our essential and absolute notions of space and time, but indeed, all Newtonian-Darwinian conceptions of order and secure predictions. Lanza postulates that biocentrism is the only humanly comprehensible explanation for how the world can be the way it is. The work of the observer is hopelessly entangled in that which he is attempting to observe. An electron turns out to be both a particle and a wave. But how and where such a particle will be located remains entirely dependent upon the very act of observation.

Werner Heisenberg,[1901-1976] winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics and author of the “Uncertainty Principle,” realized “A path comes into existence only when you observe it.” There is neither time nor motion without life. Reality is not “there” with definite properties waiting to be discovered but actually comes into being depending upon the actions of the observer.

Life as we know it is limited by our spatio-temporal logic—that is, the genome traps us in the universe with which we are familiar.

Quantum mechanics tells us that the universe bursts into existence from life, not the other way around. For each life there is a universe, its own universe. 

We may question whether the brain can really create physical reality. However, we must remember that dreams and schizophrenia prove the capacity of the mind to construct a spatial-temporal reality as real as the one you are experiencing now.

We are living through a profound shift in worldview, from the belief that time and space are entities in the universe to one in which time and space belong to the living.

In this theory then, it could be said that life after death only exists once it is experienced.

Dr. Henry Stapp [b. 1923] Theoretical physicist and Quantum Mechanics researcher favors the idea that wave functions collapse when they encounter consciousness that chooses between one and other alternate possibilities. In this he differs from Penrose and Hameroff who postulate that quantum computing is in effect when the mind interacts with matter. Stapp considers a more global collapse, a ‘mind-like’ wave function collapse that exploits aspects of the Quantum Zeno Effect where the act of observing interrupts the possible outcomes. Stapp agreed that consciousness could continue to exist as a ‘mental entity’ after the brain had ceased functioning and suggested that these entities could even make their way back to the physical world.

A study conducted by Karlis Osis, physics professor and Erlendur Haraldsson, clinical psychologist examined 5,000 cases that were culled from 17,000 observations by doctors and nurses. A separate study comparing relationships in India was conducted. In “What They Saw at the House of Death,” they looked at Biological, Pharmacuetical, Psychological and Cultural factors, and were able to determine commonalities that were consistent with other studies.

Doctors at Southampton General Hospital, UK studied 3,500 patients and concluded that cases of NDEs being reported involved “well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains were shown not to function,” contradicting the materialistic view of how the brain works.

Neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick [b.1935] has collected and analyzed over 300 examples of NDE. He suggests that NDEs are part of the same continuum as mystical experiences. He and others have suggested that a mind that is mediated by, but not produced by the brain, is a possible way to explain NDEs.   

Dr Sam Parnia, a University clinical research fellow who conducted the study with Dr. Fenwick stated: "The main significance of the near-death experience lies in the understanding of the relationship between mind and brain which has remained a topic of debate in contemporary philosophy, psychology and neuroscience.”

In utilizing evidence by Terrance McKenna [1946 – 2000] in his extensive study of hallucinogenic compounds and shamanic practices of indigenous cultures, we find extensive support for an “Ecology of souls,” that allows communion with departed elders to energize their spirit or to seek guidance.  The opening of consciousness facilitated by DMT, ayahuasca and other natural compounds show that linkages exist between what we perceive as reality and what lies beyond our ability to comprehend in a normal state. A rupture of dimensional reality can allow interaction with loved ones that have died and various methods have been developed to achieve this. Graveyards are tended, effigies created, there are occasions where a mummy would be situated in a family home and greeted like anyone else.

Another point by Dr. McKennon could illustrate the nature of this evidence. He refers to “Punctuated Time,” an idea that is experienced when we feel like everything’s running smoothly or when we’re dragging and depleted.  The fluctuation in time references offer theories of biological evolution. When Stephen J. Gould,[1941-2002] noted evolutionist purports an accepted proposition that evolution proceeds in fits and starts rather than a smooth progression, we can deduce that our consciousness does the same thing. His theory of ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’ may further be applied to human consciousness where a given spirit may progress during one lifetime and lay fallow for another.

In addressing the evidence for reincarnation, it is noted that the 14th Dalai Lama [b. b1935] was identified by a rigorous process that can last 2 to 3 years. The direction of the wind ascending from the cremation of the existing monk is noted and the high priests consult dreams, contemplation and spiritual retreats to determine the successor. The candidates selected for consideration are presented with objects of the previous dalai lama to choose from and after consultation with priests, leaders, former servants and others the child is approved and sent to Lhasa along with his family to begin his studies.

There are many documented accounts of reincarnation that defy understanding but lend remarkable credence to the concept and this paper will identify them but omit their whole story for the sake of brevity.

Jenny Cockell believes that in a previous life she was someone named Mary Sutton. While undergoing regression hypnosis, her memories became more acute and she was accepted as such by Mary’s children.

Joanna and Jacqueline Pollock were young sisters who died in a an automobile accident when they were run over. Subsequently the mother had two more daughters and similarly had identical birthmarks and scars
Ismail Altinklish was born in Turkey in 1956 and claimed from an early age to be a gardener named Albeit Szulmus. He to the home of the deceased man and Ismael recognized his belongings and his parents realized that his descriptions had been accurate.
Cameran Macaulay had always described a previous life in Barra, Scotland where he had never been. His unbelieving parents eventually contacted a psychologist, Jim Tucker, who specializes in reincarnation cases and they were able to document and verify the claims.
Munna, a 6-Year bold boy was murdered in India. In another city, 6 months later, a child is born with curious birthmarks on his neck. He grows and tells his parents about his other life. Munna’s father hears of the reports and eventually approaches the boy who recognizes him and embraces him warmly. Both families accepted the conclusion.
Purnima Ekanayake, a young girl, claimed to have been a man who died in a traffic accident in Sri Lanka. Psychology professor Erlendur Haraldsson from Iceland researched the case for 3 years and was able to determine that the claims were accurate after contacting and interviewing the family members who corroborated his findings.
Shanti Devi [1926-1987), known as Lugdi Devi (1902-1925) in her alleged past life, was an Indian woman who claimed to remember her previous life. A commission set up by the Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi supported her claim. Several other researchers interviewed her, and published articles and books about her.

Barton Mansion

The references to ghosts and disembodied spirits have their antecedents in ancient religious traditions of Sumer, Assyria and Babylon and are referenced in the Bible also. When King Saul employs the Witch of Endor to conjure the Prophet Samuel to appear in 1 Samuel 28 it is clear that neither Samuel nor God approve of his actions. Luke 24:37 states that after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, he appeared to his disciples who were frightened, thinking that he was a ghost. This may not offer tangible proof but it does demonstrate that the concept of ghosts was well established in pre-biblical times.

Sadly, the evidence for ghosts and ethereal apparitions is scarce. One is tempted to cite sensational accounts such as the Amityville haunting or the Enfield haunting, two of the most widely debated hauntings of the 20th century. Both accounts have been sensationalized in book and film.

In 1813 physician John Ferriar [1761-1815] wrote An Essay Towards A Theory Of Apparitions, where he put forward his idea of ghost sightings as optical illusions. Alexandre Jacques François Brière de Boismont, [1797 – 1881] claimed so-called spirits were hallucinations, chemist David Turner [b. 1927] suggested they may be examples of ball lightning. Paranormal investigator Joe Nickell [b. 1944] suggests that they have something to do with human perception. It appears as though the scientific community is at odds over the idea of ghosts or disembodied spirits, ascended masters or deceased loved ones and the visual evidence is not compelling to the rigorous investigator. Spiritualism as a movement claimed more than eight million adherents from 1840 to the 1920s and its chief exponent Allan Kardec [1804 – 1869] authored several books that are still considered essential to the belief.

It is unfortunate that so many charlatans have profited by deceiving well-meaning relatives who desire communion with departed spirits and it has always been too easy to conduct a séance, manipulate and interpret Tarot cards or Ouija Boards to swindle people. With the onset of computer programs such as Photoshop, it is child’s play to alter images and present them as ‘proof’.

Famed escape artist and illusionist Harry Houdini [1874-1926] devoted considerable time and energy in debunking frauds and was a member of a Scientific American committee that offered a cash prize to any claimed medium that could demonstrate supernatural ability. No award was ever given and Houdini continued exposing fake séances and phony mediums.

Before he died, he and his wife, Bess, agreed that if he found a way to communicate after death, he would transmit the message, “Rosabelle believe” a secret code that they agreed to use. In spite of claims by psychic Arthur Ford [1896-1971] to have uncovered the message, it was later declared to be a fake by Bess. The last unsuccessful séance that Bess attended to summon Houdini’s spirit was held in 1939. She blew out the candle that she had kept burning by his picture and stated, “Ten years is long enough to wait for any man.

Miracle of the Sun

Apparition of the Virgin Mary. A series of apparitions by the Blessed Virgin occurred to three small children from the rural village of Fatima, Portugal over a six month period starting in May of 1917. The apparitions had their roots in a series of mystical events that began in 1915. Three young children, Lucia dos Santos, age nine, and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were tending a flock of sheep in the fields outside Fatima when Lucia thought she saw a translucent cloud that seemed to be shaped in the form of a human body. It moved across a clear sky and finally hovered above a pine grove. One year later she appeared again and subsequent visitations culminated on Oct. 13, 1917 when the 'Miracle of the Sun,' convinced skeptics and believers alike.

Other sightings have occurred at Garabandal, Spain, Lourdes, France, Medjugorje, Bosnia, Hercegovina and Zeitun, Egypt.

Garabandal, Spain

Zeitun, Egypt

Medjugorje, Bosnia, Hercegovina

Near Death Experience Individuals who have been clinically dead and returned to life have recorded a multitude of incidences that defy the conventional belief that when our bodies die, the mind is obliterated and consciousness ends. The consistency of the experiences by those who can recall the events leads to the unmistakable conclusion that a journey to another dimension awaits us all.

A study conducted by Dr. Karlis Osis, physics professor and Erlendur Haraldsson, clinical psychologist examined 5,000 cases that were culled from 17,000 observations by doctors and nurses. A separate study comparing relationships in India was conducted. In “What They Saw at the House of Death,” they looked at Biological, Pharmacuetical, Psychological and Cultural factors, and were able to determine commonalities that were consistent with other studies.

Doctors at Southampton General Hospital, UK studied 3,500 patients and concluded that cases of NDEs being reported involved “well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains were shown not to function,” contradicting the materialistic view of how the brain works.

Neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick [b.1935] has collected and analyzed over 300 examples of NDE. He argues that indeed human consciousness can survive bodily death and suspects that NDEs are part of the same continuum as mystical experiences. He and others have suggested that a mind that is mediated by, but not produced by the brain, is a possible way to explain NDEs.   

Dr. Sam Parnia, a University clinical research fellow who conducted the study with Dr. Fenwick stated: "The main significance of the near-death experience lies in the understanding of the relationship between mind and brain which has remained a topic of debate in contemporary philosophy, psychology and neuroscience.”

Kenneth Ring [b. 1936] is Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Connecticut and a leading researcher in the phenomenon and has authored books on the subject of NDEs. He was inspired to his research after reading Raymond Moody’s [b.1944] book, “Life After Life”, and initially followed the cases of 102 individuals claiming to have experienced an NDE. His findings are detailed in his 1999 book, “Mindsight.”

Dr. Ring researched NDEs that involve the experiencer witnessing events while outside the body that was later proven to have occurred. He has also researched NDEs that appear to affirm reincarnation. In the Foreword of Dr. Ring’s book Lessons From The Light, NDE expert Dr. Bruce Greyson notes, “No other researcher has been able to meld the large-scale controlled study with the passionate friendships, the philosophical theories with the intuitive understandings, the command of the scholarly literature with the personal stories. More importantly, no other researcher has been able to transmit to the rest of us the true meaning and impact of near-death phenomena for our planet.”

The following are Kenneth Ring’s research conclusions from his Connecticut Study.

(1) Those cases who came closest to death, or were clinically dead, just as Moody’s cases reported, told of being outside of their bodies, of moving through a void or dark tunnel toward a luminous light, of meeting with departed relatives and friends, of having a feeling of great comfort and bliss and of being surrounded by compassionate love, a feeling so beautiful they longed to remain, and when they returned to the “earthly” realm, they were affected by this feeling the rest of their lives.

(2) No one type of person was especially likely to have this experience. It cut across race, gender, age, education, marital status, and social class.

(3) Religious orientation was not a factor affecting either the likelihood or the depth of the NDE. An atheist was as likely to have one as was a devoutly religious person.

(4) Regardless of their prior attitudes – whether skeptical or deeply religious – and regardless of the many variations in religious beliefs and degrees of skepticism from tolerant disbelief to outspoken atheism – most of these people were convinced that they had been in the presence of some supreme and loving power and had a glimpse of a life yet to come.

(5) Drugs, anesthesia and medication did not seem to be a factor in inducing these impressions and exquisite feelings of an NDE. Indeed, drugs and anesthesia seemed to be more likely to cause a person to forget memories of an NDE.

(6) He definitely concluded that NDEs are not hallucinations because hallucinations are rambling, unconnected, often unintelligible and vary widely, whereas NDEs tend to have similar elements of a clear, connected pattern.

(7) Based on the information of those who had reported such incidents, the moment of death was often one of unparalleled beauty, peace and comfort – a feeling of total love and total acceptance. This was possible even for those involved in horrible accidents in which they suffered very serious injuries. Dr. Ring found there was a tremendous comfort potential in this information for people who were facing death.

(8) After going through an NDE, people reported a loss of fear of death as well as a greater appreciation of life. They also reported stronger feelings of self-acceptance and a greater concern and sense of caring for other people. They had less interest in material things for their own sake. Many tended to become more spiritual – though not necessarily more involved in organized religion.

(9) Almost all subjects who experienced an NDE found their lives transformed and a change in their attitudes and values, and in their inclination to love and to help others.

Dr. Ring was convinced that these were absolutely authentic experiences and noted that since returning, many of them had occasion to think about ‘what might have been.’ And their subsequent lives were powerful testimony to our common ability to live more deeply, more appreciatively, more lovingly, and more spiritually.

In his book, “Life at Death,” Dr. Ring applies the current holographic paradigm in quantum physics to NDEs. The current holographic paradigm uses the Holographic Principle to describe the universe – and everything within it as a hologram with every point within the hologram intimately connected to every other point within the hologram which is the current “Theory of Everything” involving String Theory.

The Holographic Principle, developed by physicist Leonard Susskind, [b.1940] corresponds with David Bohm [1917-1992] and Karl Pribram‘s [1919-2015] Holonomic Brain Theory which theoretically describes the brain as functioning like a hologram. A holographic brain functioning as a hologram and storing memory as a hologram within a holographic universe and reality, would perfectly solve many scientific materialist problems of accepting various “paranormal” aspects of near-death experiences. In holographic terms, it is another frequency domain – a realm of “higher” frequencies sometimes referred to as the Astral Plane or Middle Plateau.

Outstanding examples of Near Death Experiences include:

The case of Pam Reynolds[1956-2010] is of particular interest due to the clinical setting of her NDE during surgery for a brain tumor. Her clear recollection of the events in spite of being heavily sedated and the verification by health care practitioners present at the time make her account particularly compelling.

In her 2005 book, “The Self-Full Life”, Dr. Peg Abernathy describes her NDE in lucid terms and develops a way to work with spirit guides who she claims are always with us through intuition to help us realize our destiny and guide us towards the Light.

Dr. Mary Neals account of her NDE is well-documented and she continues to share her story of the events she experienced while on a kayaking trip to Chile in 1999. She was pinned upside down under a waterfall and clearly recalls otherworldly beings surrounding and guiding her towards a shining dome-like structure. Thankfully, she was rescued and transported to the nearest hospital where she made a long but complete recovery. The beings informed her that her eldest son would die prematurely and this in fact happened. Her book, "To Heaven and Back,” details what occurred and the impact it has had in her life and those touched by it.

Sarah [No last name given] was interviewed by legendary radio host Art Bell and described her NDE in unusually vivid detail. She had been hit from behind while riding her bicycle and conveyed a series of events that are nothing short of astonishing. From witnessing the fury and anguish of hell to the glory of the heavenly realms, her account is remarkable for its depth, clarity and sincerity that even Mr. Bell describes as the most extraordinary account he had ever heard.

Dr. Eben Alexander, Erika McKensey, Robert Caplan and singer Sarah Goff are only a few people who have recounted their NDEs online and described the after-effects that have shaped their lives and given greater dimension to our understanding of consciousness. NDERF [Near Death Experience Research Foundation] has collected over 4900 accounts from around the world. Dr. Bruce Greyson has made it his life’s ambition to uncover facts surrounding the subject and Dr. Raymond Moody pioneered the effort to understand the phenomenon. In 1981, IANDS was formed. The International Association of Near-Death Studies has a mission to understand these experiences and the accounts they have documented leave little doubt that consciousness continues well after clinical death has occurred. The recent Netflix series, “Surviving Death” profiles the Seattle chapter of IANDS and introduces Kimberly Sharp Clark, Director and host of monthly meetings that features testimony by NDE experiencers. One such experiencer, Brom Wikstrom, is included. He is the author of this paper and briefly featured in “Surviving Death” on Netflix.

Charity Hospital, New Orleans, LA 1975

On July 20, 1975, I was a 21 year-old man in healthy condition and excited about relocating from my home in Seattle to New Orleans. As noted in my introduction, I sustained an injury to my spinal cord while swimming in the Mississippi River. The ironies only begin there. If ever there were mythic overtones in references to the Jordan, Nile or the Amazon then the Mississippi is mine. The moment that I became paralyzed was similarly instantaneous to the moment of my NDE. The separation from the body that I could no longer operate, the alienation of the self and the utter hopelessness of my situation were all felt during the experiences.

It was traumatizing for my mother and brother who had come down to attend to me and she assured me that prayers and masses were being said on my behalf. I spent 8 weeks in Charity Hospital before returning to Seattle for another year of rehabilitation. The limits of my paralysis begin just above my nipple. I have complete sensation on the tops of my arms to my thumb, shoulders, neck and above. Below that is a type of semi-consciousness of physical reality where I can sense my paralyzed body in space but not to the touch. I was not reconciled to death and focused every fiber to endure what was happening.

To facilitate breathing, a tracheotomy had been performed and for several days I breathed with the aid a respirator. This procedure separates the vocal chords and I was unable to speak. Lip-reading and ESP was employed to communicate with doctors and my family. I began having complications that deteriorated my condition, chief among them a developing pressure sore. This required me to be placed in a special bed to facilitate rotation and avoid the problem. A cot would secured and I was inverted head over heels and repositioned. Normally, all went well, but on this one occasion I was not secured properly and began slipping loose towards the floor. My brother held me up and I heard my mother gasp as the sheets tangled around my breathing tube and wrenched it from my neck.

In a flash, I was in another state of being. It was warm and brilliantly lit and I seemed to be a speeding part of it. The light had a super-real quality to it that gave the impression of it being alive somehow. There seemed to be golden threads woven throughout the light and it sparkled but the most striking thing was the enormous velocity that my frame of reference experienced. My consciousness was being rapidly drawn to the source of this light and it was getting brighter and more focused by the moment. At first I gave myself over to the incredible awe of what was happening and clearly recognized the sound of rushing wind going by. I felt safe but exhilarated and a sense of returning filled me but then my instinct for survival arose. I recalled my previous state in the hospital and of my mother.

The sensation of losing my physical body had already happened but I could still feel my head and shoulders and began sending mental signals to reconnect by blinking, shrugging and turning my head. I felt like I needed to believe that I was in the hospital bed in order to return and I continued to struggle. The battle was similar in some respects to the moment of my initial injury. I knew that I was at a crossroads in my life where the next several moments would determine life or death.

I sensed no other beings around me but didn’t feel alone. There seemed to be some vast ocean of energy that my little slip of consciousness became a part of and it would’ve been natural to simply let go and let myself be carried away. At that moment though, it seemed the cowardly thing to do and I felt like even the marginal life I had as a quadriplegic was worth preserving. As I continued to relay thoughts to my body and return to the consciousness that I knew in the hospital, a slight shift occurred. I didn’t seem to be moving into the light as fast. It also wasn’t quite as loud though I remember thinking perhaps I was getting used to it. I began to pick up words beyond the wind saying, “C’mon Brom, C’mon!” I recognized it as my brother’s voice and knew that I was returning. The light shifted further and slowly began to dissipate and I heard another voice, a male voice, telling me to calm down, stop moving and assuring me that everything was going to be alright. The blurry faces of a doctor and my brother came into focus. I knew I was back from the most extraordinary experience I’d ever had. By chance, the doctor had been present and rushed to get a hand pump resuscitator over my trachea and was working to revive me while putting the breathing tube back in place. All the pain returned, all the fear and concern and I felt a bitter relief. My mother came up to me tearfully and expressed her sorrow for what had just happened. I reassured her by mouthing the words, "It was beautiful mom. The light! The Light!”

In that flash of realization, I sensed an all-knowing, all loving presence that has stayed with me. I understand a bit more now how consciousness negotiates the middle ground between realities. Though I didn’t experience the classic guardian spirit or life review event as noted by some accounts, the feeling I had of union with some greater physical reality was manifest. When I close my eyes to sleep every night, I look into the darkly brilliant void and feel that omniscience. I know that the time is coming again when my conscious reality will be fully switched on and I will return to the source of all understanding.

There were several key changes that occurred in my life as the result of the experience. The first regards purpose and I have striven to achieve my goals artistically, socially, educationally and spiritually. Thankfully, I began giving of myself without expecting compensation early in my recovery and it formed a very positive vibrational direction that continues to propel me. Volunteer positions on non-profit boards of directors, guest teacher in area schools, donations of my paintings to charity auctions and curator for dozens of exhibitions at a gallery I help operate have helped me to establish a successful career in visual art.

I met my wife Anne’ in 1987 and together we have realized opportunities to be global representatives of positive transformation. Through my membership with the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, I have presented my work and served as delegate to exhibitions in Shanghai, Vienna, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Athens, Lisbon, New York City and other locations around the world. In 1984, I began a long employment at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History as staff receptionist. My forced retirement due to the Corona Virus Pandemic of 2020 curtailed an activity that always stirred my appreciation for the accomplishments of native cultures and the intricate formal structures of the natural world.

Another change that has stayed with me is the absence of the fear of death. I know that consciousness goes on, at least for a while and my study of the phenomenon indicates that at some point a barrier is encountered that makes the separation permanent. I also feel a heightened sense of appreciation in the tangible beauty in nature and the sublime artistic representations by talented painters and sculptors. There is greater respect for other religious traditions and I recognize that the path to enlightenment lies in the depth of devotion to the route one has chosen, whether it is scientific or mythological.

Certainly, these attributes could have developed without my having experienced my NDE but the drive to experience the world directly and make a difference in other people’s lives I believe is wholly related to what I was exposed to during that moment in time.

In the 46 years since my NDE I have given considerable reflection on the nature of my experience and why it occurred to me the way that it did. It does appear to be reasonable to conclude that it was the efforts of the doctor who resuscitated me combined with my mental struggle to return to the physical state were instrumental in the way my experience unfolded.

I have further come to a realization that a possible reason that my experience did not begin with either a black void nor a vague awareness of my surroundings was the relative state of my soul [superconsciousness]. As stated, prayers, meditations and oblations had been continuously offered on my behalf during the weeks leading to my NDE and the prayers and inner dialogue that I engaged in myself may have had a contributing effect. It is clear to me that the frequency of vibrations necessary to achieve a heavenly experience can be affected by what is referred to as, “a state of grace,” and the transition to a different form of consciousness can be altered by the way that we choose to live our lives.

Further evidence of life after death on a personal note is presented in the passing of my mother a few years ago. She had been living in an apartment we installed in our home for 13 years after the death of my father and she was active and vital until a stroke ended her life. We had enjoyed many deep discussions over the years including recounting the events involving my NDE. On two occasions following her death, she appeared vividly in my dreams. In the first dream, she appeared at my side as I was lamenting all we were having to go through as executors of her estate. Her simple remark to me, “Brom, it doesn’t matter,” was all I needed to hear. The other dream had an even greater impact. I recognized it as odd right away since in my dream, I was sitting upright on the edge of the bed I was supposedly asleep on. My mother stood across the room regarding me silently, not judgmentally but directly. She was dressed like she was going out to a special function and had a regal bearing that was unmistakable. “Mom’s here!” I said and turned towards my sleeping wife. The moment I turned, she vanished.

Dorothy & Brom, Venice, Italy 2006

The evidence is clear that the middle plateau, spoken of by Fr. Martin, the Duat referred to in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Bardo in Buddhist philosophy, The Halls of Amenti and descriptions of the “Astral Plane” all portray a similar level of conscious reality that I inhabited briefly during my NDE experience. When Dr. McKenna refers to an “Ecology of Souls” it is apparent to me that vibrations exist beyond our normal ability to perceive them with our physical bodies and they can be accessed during REM sleep or with highly proficient practitioners skilled in techniques that trancend our normal understanding of physical reality.

In forming these hypotheses, I reference a Native American account that was not influenced by earlier western traditions and therefore offers an unbiased perspective: Black Elk [1863–1950] was a renowned medicine man, heyoka [a kind of sacred clown] and holy man of the Oglala Lakota [Sioux] Native American tribe. When he was nine years old, he became ill and lost consciousness. As he lay dying, his face and limbs swelled up severely and he was unresponsive for several days. During this time he had a near-death experience in which he was visited by two men, known as “Thunder Beings”, coming from the clouds. These beings then took Black Elk to a council of “the six Grandfathers” who are spiritual representatives of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below – known to the Lakotas as the “Powers of the World.” Black Elk found himself at the “axis” of these six sacred directions.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell [1904-1987] described it as the “axis mundi, the central point, the pole around which all revolves … the point where stillness and movement are together.” Campbell viewed Black Elk’s vision as key to understanding Native American myth and symbols. Black Elk’s worldview shaped his near-death experience using sacred Native American cultural symbols such as rainbows, clouds, mandalas and light. During his NDE, the Grandfathers each gave Black Elk special powers not unlike Platonic forms or Jungian archetypes: life, death, healing, awakening, peace, renewal and transcendent vision. Black Elk stated: “And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”

In addressing evidence for consciousness existing after permanent death, this paper has explored scientific, biologic, parapsychological, mythological and personal references that have demonstrated a willingness to engage the age-old question. In searching for an equivalent proposition that has also mystified investigators, it is apparent that only one other commodity has proven itself capable of being as elusive as the nature of consciousness. It is nearly impossible to define, though it is understood to exist, like consciousness, on many levels. The fact that its true nature is indefinable and intangible gives rise to that which Einstein refers to as the most beautiful thing that we can experience. This substance is reported by nearly all who have witnessed the Near Death Experience and gives comfort and meaning in the lives of everyone. That matter is Love.

In recognizing that each person carries a virtual universe within themselves, and as Carl Sagan [1939-1996] so memorably remarked, “We are made of star stuff,” it is clear that the link between consciousness, matter and love defines not only who we are but how our consciousness operates. This is apparent in how we perceive ourselves and our neighbors, it is the singular emphasis that emanates from every religious tradition and it is the ultimate goal of every well-meaning therapist.

Love is something that exists beyond our reasoned understanding and like consciousness itself, it is believed to hold the key to impenetrable mysteries. It might be assumed that we really aren’t interested in discovering a definitive answer to something that has stirred the emotions, piqued the imaginations and caused such wonder. If, as so many thoughtful sage’s through the centuries have surmised, we exist in order to grow in body, mind and spirit, then we must acknowledge that an inner force is driving us to realize this goal. It is referred to by many names and is described by poets, philosophers, scientists and every thinking person in their own way. A paraphrase from Rene Descartes [1596-1650] might be appropriate, “I ‘Love’ Therefore I am.”

To anyone who has ever held a baby in their arms, recognized ‘the other’ in the face of their beloved or demonstrated a simple kindness to a complete stranger, the answer to the question of the presence of a soul and the survival of consciousness after death is a resounding “Yes!