Pierre Teilhard De Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” In this way we can think of our bodies as vehicles that are inhabited and driven by our souls. If this is true, then what happens to our souls when our physical bodies die? This is the great debate, isn’t it?
On the surface, our common culture assumes that science and religion are at odds on this topic. However, when we dig a little deeper, we find that science is more aligned than you might think. There are efforts taking place to provide evidence which suggests the soul does, in fact, live on after the body has died. You may recall that on Day 14 we discussed David E. Presti’s book, Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience. Presti explains the fundamentals of how our nervous system works all the way to the point when signals reach our brain. But science is not yet able to explain what happens at the threshold between brain signals and consciousness.
While the science of consciousness is not yet understood, Presti’s follow up book, Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science, and the Paranormal offers some suggestions. This book attempts to bridge a gap by acknowledging a dialogue that is happening between science and Buddhism. It covers topics such as near-death experiences, past-life memories, mediums, apparitions and other paranormal activity. These topics are commonly written off by non-believers as scams designed to fool you. Yet, the book goes into great detail about the countless scientific studies that are being done at, among other places, the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS), which is part of the University of Virginia’s Medical School.
Mark Gober, author of An End to Upside Down Thinking, also has an excellent podcast series, called Where is my Mind?, that covers these topics as well and references many of the same studies. Additionally, he provides research and evidence to prove that supernatural abilities such as remote viewing, telepathy, precognition and psychokinesis are possible. The research that Gober has pulled together for his book and podcast is quite comprehensive and has to make you at least crack open the door to possibility a smidge.
In this One Teaching series, I’ve tried to show examples of how either/or thinking can be transcended towards both/and, a harmonious unity of all things in our universe. The research being done is opening doors and opening minds to a greater level of acceptance that science and spirituality can coexist. Before Columbus, we thought the world was flat. What beliefs are we holding today that will be proven wrong in the future?
If scientific studies aren’t enough to sway you and you need a celebrity endorsement, check out this video interview of comedian, John Cleese of Monty Python culture, as he is interviewed by Dr. Edward Kelly, Ph.D and Professor of research at DOPS. Enjoy!