Based on a new scientific paradigm in sync with experience-based spirituality, Ervin Laszlo and Anthony Peake explore how consciousness is continually present in the cosmos and can exist without connection to a living organism. They examine the rapidly growing body of scientific evidence supporting the continuity of consciousness, including near-death experiences, after-death communication, reincarnation, and neurosensory information received in altered states. They explain how the persistence of consciousness beyond the demise of the body means that, in essence, we are not mortal-we continue to exist even when our physical existence has come to an end. This correlates precisely with cutting-edge physics, which posits that things in our plane of time and space are not intrinsically real but are manifestations of a hidden dimension where they exist in the form of superstrings, information fields, and energy matrices.
With proof that consciousness is basic to the cosmos and immortal in its deeper, nonmani fest realm, Laszlo and Peake reveal the purpose of consciousness is to manifest in living beings in order to continuously evolve.
ERVIN LASZLO is a systems scientist, integral theorist, and classical pianist. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he is the founder and president of the international think tank the Club of Budapest as well as the Ervin Laszlo Center for Advanced Study. He lives in Tuscany. ANTHONY PEAKE is a writer, researcher, and author of 7 books, including Making Sense of Near-Death Experiences, which received a "highly commended" award from the British Medical Association. He lives in Crawley, West Sussex, U.K.
Does our consciousness-mind, soul, or spirit-end with the death of our body?* Or does it continue in some way, perhaps in another realm or dimension of the universe? This is the "big question" thoughtful people have asked throughout the ages.
Let us come down to the bottom line right away. Are we entirely mortal? Or is there an element or facet of our existence that survives the death of our body? This question is of the utmost importance for our life and our future.
In one form or another, the idea that consciousness persists beyond the living brain and body has been affirmed in thinking about the nature of reality for thousands of years. It was based, however, on personal insight, handed down on the strength of its intrinsic meaningfulness and spiritual authority. In recent years more solid evidence regarding the "big question" has come to light. Some of it has been subjected to controlled observation, and some of the observations have been recorded. In the chapters that follow we review some of the truly credible and robust strands of the evidence.
*We shall use consciousness and mind interchangeably, while reserving soul and spirit to the spiritual and/or religious context.
There are three fundamental questions we need to address, and we address each of them in turn.
First, is there such a thing as consciousness not associated with a living brain? There appears to be "something" that can be experienced on occasion, and even engaged in communication, and it appears to be the consciousness of a person who is no longer alive. We review the robust strands of the evidence in this regard in part 1.
Second, assuming that there is "something" we can experience that appears to be a discarnate consciousness, what does this mean for our understanding of the world-and of the human being in the world? Who and what are we, if our consciousness can survive our body? And what kind of a world is that in which consciousness can exist beyond the brain and the body? These are the questions we take up in part 2.
Third, what kind of explanation do we get for the possible persistence of consciousness beyond the brain and the body, and for contact and communication with such a consciousness, when we confront the evidence with the latest insights coming from the natural sciences? This is the question we ask in part 3.
These tasks are ambitious, but not beyond the scope of science. We know that conscious experience can occur in the temporary absence of brain function: this is the case in so-called NDEs-near-death experiences. Could conscious experience occur also in the permanent absence of brain function-when the individual has died? It makes sense to ask this question as well, because it is important, meaningful, and not without observational evidence.
Mainstream science-the science taught in most schools and colleges-does not confront these questions: it denies the very possibility that consciousness could exist in the absence of the living organism. However, unlike the Ten Commandments Moses brought to his people, the tenets of mainstream science are not engraved in stone. In its next development science could expand its scope to investigate phenomena that address these questions. And when it does, it is likely to reach insights that are of vital interest not just to scientists, but to all people in the living, and perhaps not entirely mortal, human community.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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