This bizarre article  was shared by Mr. T.M., and it concerns a bizarre experiment conducted with nearly one thousand volunteers willing to undergo a deliberately induced near-death experience. In effect, the volunteers undergo clinical death for almost twenty minutes, and are then resuscitated:

German Scientists Prove There is Life After Death

But I would caution against calling this proof, at least, not on the basis of the information provided in the article; drug-induced clinical death is one thing, death itself may be quite another. The article really only suggests that in the end, the experiment is still dependent on the philosophical interpretations cast upon its results by the interpreters.

The experiment does do one thing, it appears to me, in that it raises the question of what death is, and if it is indeed the neat and tidy "dividing line" people take it to be, or whether rather it is more like a sliding scale of some sort, for there appears to be one thing about the experiment  that indicates the German researchers may be on the right track, though without knowing more about the formal protocols of the experiment, it is difficult, again, to say. Here's the passage in question:

"The team of scientists led by Dr Berthold Ackermann, has monitored the operations and have compiled the testimonies of the subjects. Although there are some slight variations from one individual to another, all of the subjects have some memories of their period of clinical death. and a vast majority of them described some very similar sensations.

"Most common memories include a feeling of detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of an overwhelming light.

"The scientists say that they are well aware the many of their conclusions could shock a lot of people, like the fact that the religious beliefs of the various subjects seems to have held no incidence at all, on the sensations and experiences that they described at the end of the experiment. Indeed, the volunteers counted in their ranks some members are a variety of Christian churches, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists."

In other words, the experimenters appear to have deliberately sought a mix of people of various religious backgrounds or philosophical commitments - Christian, Hindu, atheists - to conduct the experiment, which apparently yielded rather similar results across that spectrum. What is interesting is the commonality of experience, for esoteric tradition speaks of a "cord", sometimes a rope and even sometimes a ladder, connecting the soul and the body, and similar feelings of levitation, warmth, and so on.

Other NDE researchers have reported people who, having been clinically dead for some time, are resuscitated and who report hearing conversations of people in the room, or even of finding objects lost or hidden in the room, when by all accounts, no material or sensory capability should exist for someone clinically dead.

I suggest that Dr. Ackerman's team has simply added more data to a conundrum, rather than proven anything. But if one must speak in terms of proof, perhaps a less grand claim, and one more philosophical in nature, might be suggested: perhaps what such experiments and experiences indicate is not so much "life after death," but rather the illumination of a fundamental truth that needs further investigation: is the mind merely a material phenomenon, or not?

In other words, in our ages-old quest to prove metaphysical and religious propositions, might we be asking  and seeking the answers to the wrong questions? Might the more fundamental question be what is(or rather, are) mind/soul/personhood? Put that way, the experiences and experiments of Near Death, remote viewing, psychometry and so on would seem to suggest that the relationship of the material and spiritual realms - if I may be permitted the terms - is much more complex than that of a mere epiphenomena or neat and tidy Cartesian dualism. They may be complex open systems related to each other in complex feedback loops and cognitive information-processing networks in ways that we cannot imagine.

In other words, the old binary paradigm, the old epiphenomenal approach, the neat and tidy dualisms, be they of the athetist-materialist or the religious metaphysician or Hegelian idealist, may not be adequate to the task any more.

That, at least, I think Dr Ackerman and his team may have proven.

See you on the flip side.

Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".

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