Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

It’s instructive to look at what a culture believes and completely deconstruct it. I find that we are lied to by the dominant culture on a regular basis; social media, media in general, all the images and words that we process in infinite doses teach us a version of reality which, I suspect, is skewed at best and completely false at worst.

One of the biggest assumptions that we carry around with us concerns the afterlife. You are taught to fall into two camps: the ‘scientist,’ who believes there is no rational basis for a belief in the continuation of consciousness, or the ‘believer’ who is either following a religious doctrine based on faith and ancient scripture or the ‘New Ager’ who has dragged the consciousness raising, flower power philosophies of the 1960s and 1970s into the present day. In the latter cases, you are considered by academics, intellectuals and amateur, ghost hunting ‘scientists’ nominally following a method, to be gullible or simply ignorant.

Is the choice really a scriptural ‘Heaven’, total obliteration or some fuzzy ‘white light’ scenario where you are kindly judged by a benevolent God who gently leads you into a non-denominational paradise where your loved ones await you? Do any of these versions make sense of the life you are living? For me, these are not real alternatives but fantasies generated by tradition or desire. I see things quite differently. For one, I tend to think that Heaven and Hell were always meant to be allegorical, describing a state of mind rather than a state of being ‘somewhere else.’ We create Hell on Earth on a regular basis. In fact, it is relatively easy to find Hell if you listen to the news or frequent social media sites. As you navigate the photos of starving children, abused and beaten dogs and melting ice populated with dying polar bears, it seems that God took off a long time ago.

Unless Hell is right here, right now. Why are some of us in Hell when others are so close to Heaven? I don’t know. Maybe God is watching to see what we do. Do we ignore evil in all of its forms? Do we make an attempt, no matter how seemingly futile, to provide comfort and aid?

If Hell is here, surely Heaven is, too. We know that when we hold our child or sleep surrounded by our devoted pets or when we simply contemplate the stunning beauty of nature. Both Hell and Heaven are states of mind that lead to states of being. We can visit both places whenever we want. Sometimes, you can visit Hell simply with one, destructive, pernicious thought. The opposite applies, too.

The Afterlife is not After. It is right here, right now, all of the time. Death, that big, scary concept that keeps us all running in a million directions attempting to evade or outwit it, is a minimal experience that has deluded us all. I remember death. I revisit past deaths in dreams. I have a repeating dream where I realize that I am about to die, and I experience all the terror of the death, usually the one where a giant wave sweeps me out to sea and drowns me. The fascinating aspect of those dreams is that after I die, I realize that I didn’t die. There is this huge sense of relief of having endured the physical death only to come out of it as alive, or more so, that I was before. The second life is completely devoid of fear. I realize that death is an experience, but not a final reality. When I realize this in these repeated dreams, I also feel that I wasted most of my life fearing something that didn’t change anything about me at all.

Piecing together dreams and memories of before I was born, it seems that we ‘wake up’ to a very similar reality with exactly the same identity and personality blueprint. The circumstances are different. But I am the same. Or, as Ortega y Gasset put it, “Yo soy yo y mis circunstancias” (I am myself and my circumstances). I find this to be the most succinct and perfect way of understanding identity. You have always been, and always will be, you; only your backdrop changes. The fact that I can’t explain how this works–whether this is reincarnation, transmigration of souls, or something else–does not invalidate it. There are some things you know on the deepest level of your soul, at the level of your basic humanity, in the blueprint that God (or Spirit) created and that you spend lifetimes attempting to figure out.

There is this deeper reality that invalidates death. I think we all know that it’s there, like a memory that we intuit but can’t capture, an experience we had but can’t put into words. It’s that feeling when you walk down a street you have never seen in this life, yet you can predict every landmark around the bend. It’s when you know something before it happens. It is also when time seems to be the strangest illusion of all, always appearing to move forward, even as you float in a matrix of eternity.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

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Kirsten doubled

Dear Readers: Today, you’re going to hear me boot the nice Kitty to the curb, because the angry Kitty is ready to write today. Forgive her for her lack of fuzziness and warmth. That persona will be back soon. In the meantime, this is what’s going on:

Every now and then, some kind soul will send me hate mail. Hate mail is never fun to receive, but on the other hand, it means that people are reading. Just like there is no bad publicity, there is always cause for a writer to celebrate when someone takes the time to send an email, even if it’s vicious vitriol from an inflamed and angry soul whose sensibilities you’ve offended.

There is a segment of the population who despises all talk of the survival of consciousness–the idea that we are more than meat machines–and the very notion of the human spirit. In part, those people have been hurt by organized religion, and think (falsely) that I am promoting religion or a particular vision/version of God. I understand the backlash; but let me be clear: although I consider myself Christian, I do not write on soulbank with a conversion agenda nor am I an apologist for a particular faith. Atheists are always welcome to debate issues relating to the survival of death of some aspect of human consciousness.

However, there is a trend in my hate mail: people who believe that nothing survives death–no soul, no spirit, no aspect of consciousness–tend to insult me on a personal level. There is a certain pattern to the meanness: first, attack my PhD. Start by telling me how you can’t believe that someone with an advanced degree would spout such drivel, etc. Then, move on to how worthless my degree must be in order for me to question the status quo of materialism. Then, express dismay at the state of higher education to allow someone like me to exist in the world at all. If you are a distant relative of mine, or a friend of a distant relative, your next move it to wring your hands in dismay over my ‘lost promise’.

The hate mail usually goes on to question my psychology: I am somehow traumatized or deficient in some way, suffering from a personality disorder or simply deluded. My mental stability is questioned or my emotional life must be out of whack. This is followed by the materialists’ trump card:

  • “this is wishful thinking on your part”

Of course, this is an old objection and the excuse for not researching the issue in any depth or at all: since this is just your desire speaking, there is no validity to the question in the first place. Or, there is that other objection that states that this is all fantasy akin to inventing some fantastic creature and attempting to prove it exists. To both of these very typical objections, and by way of some general observations, I offer the following:

  • There is no reason that people who disagree with me cannot be civil or polite in their responses; the failure to adhere to basic, human courtesy tells me more about how threatened YOU feel by the subject matter than it does about a rigorously defensible point of view;
  • My education, my writing and my critical thinking skills speak for themselves. If you are disappointed in me or think that I can’t defend a premise, you are free to stop reading soulbank;
  • Thousands of years of human history have shown us that every culture has believed in a sort of afterlife, and that elaborate preparations for that life are a common feature of those cultures. To say that our entire, collective past is founded upon delusions and wishful thinking makes one the worst kind of colonizer: the kind that believes in her privilege to such an extent that you represent ‘civilization’ and all others are primitive savages with quaint, superstitious beliefs;
  • Science is moving in the direction of more openness regarding the possible existence of consciousness after clinical death. There is now a considerable chorus of voices representing many disciplines in the sciences who are considering the ‘life after life’ questions with curiosity and receptivity. To anyone who wants a bibliography, just let me know. I have a great many books by doctors, physicists, neuroscientists and others who have dared to consider this question.
  •  There is no need to make a religion out of materialism and defend it to the point of alienating anyone who disagrees with you. If you believe in scientific materialism and will not consider evidence to the contrary, that’s fine–but there is no need to be vindictive, wounding, insulting and condescending in the process. Is this what happens to people who deny the human spirit?

There are many nasty things one can write to me that will have no effect. However, there is one kind of attack that I have difficulty with: those who seek to deny the validity of others’ experiences. People tend to label and insult what they do not understand or have not themselves experienced. So, when someone feels that a possible past life is the best explanation for their anomalous memories, feelings and/or behaviors, to call into question that person’s sanity or to state that they are naive, deluded, unable to think critically or don’t understand their own psychology, is an act of violence.

When a widow says she was visited by her late husband and told some important information that is later verified, to call her crazy, to say she’s unable to distinguish reality from fantasy due to grief, is an act of violence.

When someone comes back after a period of clinical death to say that they had an out of body experience where they had extraordinary powers of perception and understanding and you call them sick, drugged or a victim of a ‘dying brain’, that is an act of violence.

When someone has predicted the future, read someone’s thoughts, communicated with the dead, all under strict controls and evaluated in an academic setting by well trained scientists–to insult the researchers, to belittle the protocols, to question everybody’s ethics, IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE.

Let me go further. Even if all these people, across all these cultures, all throughout human history, did not have labs, scientists and formal experiments to monitor their experiences, to call those ‘experiencers’ insane, misled, misinformed, deluded, uneducated or victims of their own desires/illusions/fantasies, etc. IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE.

Whenever we seek to denigrate a human experience that we share with MILLIONS of others, we perpetuate a witch hunt against those who are at odds with our dominant, militant culture of scientific materialism. Whether or not anomalous experiences have been proven for YOU, to YOUR satisfaction, is another issue completely. What I will never understand is why those who profess no belief in anything other than the mechanical/biological workings of the material self behave in ways that are intended to belittle and mock those who see something transcendent and universal behind the forms of the world. To see beyond the material is not to deny the material, or the importance of the disciplines that study it.

If I see beyond this world, it is not due to a sick or infantile brain; it’s comes from a mind that has been either blessed or cursed to perceive pieces of a reality that connect and explain the mysteries of consciousness that lie just beyond the full grasp of any of us, even–or especially–the academics who study the world so ardently.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW





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Jim Tucker

You know that a book is important to me when I still have 15 pages left and I can’t wait to write about what I have read so far. I am a big fan of Dr. Ian Stevenson’s research and Jim Tucker’s work as well (see: Life Before Life). The late Dr. Stevenson worked out of the University of Virginia in the Division of Perceptual Studies where Jim Tucker continues his work on reincarnation. Drs. Stevenson and Tucker are the world’s leading authorities on children’s past-life memories along with Carol Bowman, who is a non-scientist studying the phenomena in depth.
Return to Life picks up on Dr. Tucker’s American reincarnation cases and offers several examples of apparent past lives lingering well into a current life. Typically, children start forgetting these memories at around age 5, but some remember key features of a past life well into adulthood. One of the stories recounted is quite well known already—the case of young James who remembered a life as a WWII pilot shot down over Iwo Jima—and is well documented in Soul Survivor, a book his parents wrote after documenting his case for many years.
One of the chapters is particularly interesting to me: those cases where there is little hard, objective evidence that connects one person to a previous personality but where the child (or adult) continues to exhibit behaviors, phobias and emotional reactions that are not easily explained by current life situations or childhood traumas. I fall into that category myself, and to this day struggle with emotions and reactions that don’t appear to originate in this life.
I have discussed this elsewhere in this blog, but I still have more to talk about when it comes to the topic of past lives. In my case, my childhood was remarkable for the ‘weird’ remarks I would make and the odd behavior I would display, for no apparent reason. Lately, I have been reinterpreting stories and memories from the past and wondering if my experiences had something to do with breakthrough memories from the past. All of this, of course, leads me to wonder what the ‘self’ really is, and what part of Kirsten has come back this time around. One of the children in the book explains it as having a different personality, but a same self. That might take me hundreds of pages of writing to unravel (sorry, Soulbank readers, but sometimes I just have to write it out!).
When I was around five years old, I remember feelings of terror regarding drug use (illegal drug use). Anytime someone tried to make me take a pill or give me a shot, I would lose my mind. This was especially difficult for me, since I underwent two major surgeries at age five for unrelated issues and was often forced to deal with prescription drugs. I also had asthma and spent a fair amount of my childhood attached to an inhaler and prescriptions for steroids. However, I did know that there were medicines that one had to take for illness and drugs that people took for fun or to alter their consciousness. The idea of taking or being forced to take a drug to alter my consciousness terrified me to the point of trauma.
When I discovered joints hidden at the bottom of a drawer (I was seven or eight at the time), I lectured my parents about drug use even though they had never discussed the topic with me and were shocked that I knew what a joint was. I was obsessed with marijuana plants, hating them intensely and trying to keep my parents away from them (they did have one on the deck of one of our many apartment buildings, and no matter how much they lied to me about what it really was, I KNEW it was a ‘bad plant’). The 1960s psychedelic culture created total panic in me, even though I was not directly exposed to it. My parents listened to Cream and The Beatles, and even though there were psychedelic elements to some of the music, it was not their interest and there is no good way to explain my trauma around a certain aspect of 1960s hippy culture.
My fear of psychedelic music, images or lyrics had to do with the fear of losing consciousness. I associated that kind of experience with death. I know that the 1960s were obsessed with alterations in consciousness, but as a four and five year-old, it was odd that I was in full panic mode over any alterations of my consciousness produced by certain music, sights or sounds. To this day, I suffer from severe anxiety over anything I ingest that I don’t feel is 100% tested and safe for me. I am terrified of any kind of drug; I don’t even take Tylenol without extensive soul searching and fear. In high school and college, I would drink alcohol to excess—there was no panic over that unless I started to feel like I was seriously altering my consciousness—but I would not touch any pill or illegal drug even though everybody around me had no such qualms.
Even now, falling asleep is scary because it involves alterations in consciousness. A threat to my conscious awareness can come in almost any form, but I struggle attempting to remain in control of my faculties and not drift off, never to return. I remember an incident at 15 that triggered a very old memory. I was watching “Major Tom,” performed by David Bowie, on our old television in the living room. It was 1980. As I watched him and listened to the song, I had an out of body experience and a profound alteration of consciousness that so terrified me that to this day, I cannot watch Bowie perform the song without profound feelings of fear. I felt that this music would, somehow, kill me or take me so far out of my normal, rational experience of life that I would be mad or drugged and not be able to return.
The fear of drugs seriously affected my friendships. I would cry if a friend smoked a joint. I would lecture fellow college students on the dangers of drugs and make myself an unwelcome guest at many school parties. Anything, even an aspirin, seemed to contain the horrendous possibility of a slow, downward spiral into unconsciousness. As I have written about before, I ‘knew’ the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco not from a tourist point of view, but from the standpoint of a drug addicted, teen-aged prostitute.
That, of course, is speculation. However, it fits with certain behaviors, automatic reactions and responses, emotional trauma and general life perspective that doesn’t make much sense unless I lived a certain kind of life in my distant, previous-personality past. There are other aspects to my life as a young adult that point strongly in the direction of the past life that I mention above, but the details are so personal and painful that I don’t wish to relive them in a blog post. The most I am willing to say is simply this: I knew what it felt like to prostitute myself for money and drugs without ever actually doing it. I would talk to myself about my life as a prostitute, the narratives rich with detail, yet I should not have known or understood the content of those narratives. I have repeated those stories for years, for decades, even.
As weird as that sounds, I know that my instinctual reaction of nausea, sadness and depression simply writing about it validates that it did happen, and not in my current lifetime. Psychologists are the enemy of reincarnation theories, since they would always say that the roots of this narrative are in my childhood, and that I repressed the memories that would lead me to understand myself a certain way. Of course, when an entire profession bases its authority on key evidence that the individual cannot, by definition, access—repressed memories resulting in unconscious behaviors—there is no way for me to claim my life as within my understanding. The mental health profession cannot prove their theory nor can I prove mine; but how many key aspects of our lives can we not prove yet know to be true? Most, I think.
My strongest evidence comes from the memories that I do indeed have access to, and no ‘logical’ explanation for. My highly precocious childhood and my abnormal understanding and knowledge of a world I never lived in is proof enough for me. In many ways, I am still struggling to overcome the legacy of that past life. I believe that it continues to traumatize me to this day, but since I can’t find a mental health professional who treats past life trauma (wait—I’m in L.A.—they are probably everywhere), I will continue to work on the details of this life the best way I know how: bringing these issues into the light.
Back to Jim Tucker’s book; I DID finish it as of this writing, and I have to say that I am slightly disappointed with the theories he proposes that explain reincarnation. It is common in the last several years to use quantum theory as a tool to understand everything anomalous, but dare I say we lay people might not understand quantum theory well enough to make such sweeping connections to phenomena such as reincarnation? Yes, it’s true that particles behave strangely in quantum physics, so much so that an observer is required to bring a result into reality; it is also true that particles can exhibit backwards causality, where an observer can determine in the present the outcome of something that supposedly already happened.
It’s fun to go in circles with quantum mechanics and speculate on what it means for consciousness, but until there is some definitive proof that consciousness is required in the observation process in order for a present reality to coalesce, I have to take all this as interesting but not necessarily compelling. OK, so Dr. Tucker does say that important figures in the field of quantum physics have stated that the conscious observer is necessary for the outcome of present reality, but I need to read the original sources in order to accept that. My fear, of course, is that I will not be able to comprehend the original sources at the depth necessary to be able to make any true statements.
Dr. Tucker admits that he is speculating based on some commonplace tropes in quantum physics (I am really tired of the double-slit experiment and Schrödinger’s stupid cat), but I keep coming back to a basic problem with the idea that the universe and everything in it does not exist without my conscious observation (or someone’s conscious observation). It sounds too much like solipsism, the notion that the individual creates his own reality with every act of observation, and therefore the moon is not there if I do not look at it. Dr. Tucker does address that briefly, but doesn’t satisfy my objections.
Maybe this sounds stupid and reduces my credibility, but this little story doesn’t seem to have a good answer for me: the other day, I was looking up at the balcony and I tripped over a clump of grass that I had no idea was there. I fell and was injured. I did not observe that clump of grass, but it was there nonetheless. This sounds a lot like the disagreement between Bishop Berkeley and Samuel Johnson, which goes like this:
Refutation of Bishop Berkeley
After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
Boswell: Life
It appears that quantum physics is being used to prove the validity of what I see as sophistry: matter only appears to exist because we perceive it to exist. I don’t want to start walking down this long road of philosophical debate, because, frankly, it exhausts me. If the universe is a great thought, and our lives are successions of dreams, then there really is something pointless about existence itself, since it is not REAL (and here, drum roll please, is where I am supposed to ask ‘what is real,’ but let’s hold off for a moment on that one). Dr. Tucker disturbs me when he compares lives we live to dreams. He finds that metaphor most apt to understand our multiple incarnations, but for me the metaphor falls flat. Most dreams have very little in common with what it feels like to be alive in the world. He quotes a communicator through the famous medium Leonor Piper who, when asked what the afterlife is like, states that she was most shocked at how REAL it was, how everything had substance and weight. Reports on the afterlife via reputable mediums coincide on this observation; there is nothing vaporous, illogical, bizarre or contradictory in the afterlife. It seems just like a natural extension of this life.
Therefore, the extended comparisons to dreams don’t make much sense to me. If incarnations are us dreaming new existences, then it sounds like our lives are rather inconsequential. We are working out our spiritual development, but to what end? In which world? With what consequences? Dreams are experiments in reality that are not, in the end, real; dreams are psychological in nature when not precognitive, lucid or visionary or facilitating contact with the spirits of the deceased. Most dreams, probably 99% of them, are not indicative of a new reality but are rehashing our current one. No one can argue that most dreams feel like dreams, and that wandering around in the world of the awake is very, very different—very predictable, for one thing.
So while the dream analogy falls flat for me, I do understand why Dr. Tucker has to follow that route. If you accept that reality is created by the observer, you take away an external, objective world that forces people to interact and engage with challenging situations. If you believe that the world only exists as your projection of consciousness, then you run the risk of believing that you have no obligation to change it for the better, unless it’s to work on your personal, spiritual evolution. There is no suffering ‘other’ that needs you, just endless projections of you, everywhere you look. Take away the suffering other, all that which is NOT you, and you are left with a world saturated with your consciousness alone, your giant ego in search of self expression. It makes you God. And that makes me very, very uncomfortable.
I suppose that is the crux of the problem. These “we create the universe” theories turn the self into the Creator. Whether or not you believe in a Creator separate from you is not the issue; do you believe in anything that is not an extension of you? If you don’t, you’re probably two years old or a certain kind of scientist. I might have misinterpreted Dr. Tucker’s intentions or analyses here, and if I have, I hope he or someone who knows his work better than I do will set me straight.
We may not ever be able to “prove” reincarnation as scientific fact. I am dismayed by the fact that science is considered the ONLY way to prove an assertion. The statement “we live more than one life” can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt through other venues besides hard science. It can be proven using legal definitions of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.” Once you have accumulated enough anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that it becomes preposterous to reasonably believe anything else, you can declare your case proven for the vast majority of the population. Why is it that we are so obsessed—especially in the study of the so-called ‘paranormal’—with proving via the scientific method something which hard science CANNOT EVER ACCEPT AS PROVEN?
The blessings of neuroscience or psychiatry will not be forthcoming. We can use their language and their methods to explore issues of continuation of consciousness, but we are not going to be invited to their awards ceremonies or ever find a place at their table.
That does not change the fact that reincarnation is the closest theory that fits the truth of so many people’s experiences. It does not change the truth of my life or the truth of the lives that I lived before, or the reality of the lives I have yet to live.
–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD
Kirsten with glasses

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The images for this post were taken at random from a Google search for ‘afterlife’ and ‘reincarnation’. They are revealing insofar as they represent visually our belief systems.

George Anderson has my respect and my admiration for the work that he does; he is probably the world’s greatest living medium. I read his book We Don’t Die and expected to feel tremendous excitement about the life of perfect peace that awaits me after death. No matter how inspirational and lovely his vision of the afterlife appears, I simply can’t believe everything is so perfect and luminous, not only because I have a different approach to survival of consciousness, but because the world he describes is foreign and frightening to a human who defines herself through struggle and spiritual engagement that is often painful.

I read constantly, every day, the research on and related to the survival topic. I believe this is necessary for a writer on this subject to be taken seriously. However, in the end, what I study must match my intuitive experience of life and consciousness for it to become incorporated into my understanding of how life works. I have rejected the theory that consciousness is a result of brain processes not only because no one has proven it to be true, but because it doesn’t match my experience of conscious awareness and memory.

I think that we need to return to our experiences as children to answer our questions, or we need to incorporate them into our overall life philosophy along with the research. When I return to my childhood understanding of life and death, I realize that as I child I understood intuitively the realities that I am now attempting to both remember and recreate. The glorious visions of the afterlife that many religions and some mediums promote as our final destination do not make sense with my childhood wisdom. The afterlife is not static, consistently positive and life-affirming, free of negativity or an eternal resting place for the weary soul. I doubt that it looks much different from the current reality you and I are living.


As a society (Western, in general), we do not take children seriously. With a few notable exceptions, such as Dr. Ian Stevenson’s work with children who remember past lives, we ignore what children say, remember, and how they experience death and rebirth. What I remember and what most children I know experience is nothing like Mr. Anderson’s trouble-free afterlife. In fact, although I don’t dispute that there could be a comforting zone between lives, much of what we experience before and after this life is fairly mundane and occasionally, terribly painful. If we truly listened to our children as they recount scenes from a life already lived, we would learn more about life than through the reading of countless books. To read and absorb information is one thing, but to watch reincarnation in action in your own child is an existential awakening like no other.


The following is a brief list of what children know that adults ignore, suppress or ridicule:

1: The living creature doesn’t die with the body.

When I was a child, I remember knowing that a dead body had no identity as the person or pet that I had loved. The first death that I recall was that of my rat, Sir Bell. Sir Bell died, as rats are wont to do, after a few months with us. I saw his body one morning, and I knew that Sir Bell had left. The stiff little carcass in the rat house was not my pet. Yes, I was sad, because I couldn’t hold, pet or play with him anymore, but not because Sir Bell had died in his body, but because my rat didn’t HAVE a body anymore. I knew the difference completely, at age four.

Even though my parents desperately attempted to keep me away from death (probably because I had had several brushes with death myself by age 5), I managed to glimpse it anyway. More recently, when we lost Kenny the Sphinx, I had a similar experience that reminded me of my long-ago lost pets. Kenny was the most adored feline on the planet, and when he succumbed to heart disease in July of 2010, I was terrified of seeing his body. I suppose that I had forgotten the earlier lessons of childhood; but when I did see what was left of him, it was immediately, instinctively apparent to me that Kenny was not in that cold cat body. He simply was NOT there; that didn’t mean that he wasn’t ANYWHERE, but that I was looking at lifeless flesh, not Kenny.  On many occasions, our other cats will play and chase Kenny around the house. Their behavior is clearly, for anyone who understands cat behavior—playful, and they are playing with Kenny where he used to hang out.

Can I prove that my two living cats are playing with the spirit of Kenny? Of course I can’t; but over two and a half years of watching this behavior, I am very comfortable affirming that Nod and Bingo are playing with the Kenny without the body.  Every time I saw the dead body of an animal as a child, I knew without anyone telling me that the spirit of that creature no longer resided in that flesh. I could not have explained where the spirit went, or even what a spirit was; but I knew that my pets were not alive only in my head or in my memories of them. My sadness and frustration was about not being able to find them, not about losing them forever. This was in contradiction to what my parents taught me about death. They maintained that we—everything that we are, including anything like a soul, in addition to our consciousness—dissolved into the earth recycled itself through another life cycle. My parents were not religious; there was no afterlife for them. They also did not expand their spirituality to include survival of a spirit.

What I knew was intrinsic to me, learned through experiences I could not consciously recall.

afterlife 1

2: You don’t have to stay with your body all of the time. You can leave and come back.

As I have written about before on soulbank, I left my body during surgery when I was five years old. I was up near the ceiling and saw, quite contrary to my wishes, that I had a mask over my face. Before this surgery, a nurse asked if I wanted the needle or the mask to put me to sleep. I had been adamant that I wanted no mask over my face. She had agreed. The nurse had lied to me. I don’t remember anger over this, but I was planning on bringing this up later. I experienced no internal contradiction over the fact that I was two places at once. I knew that the little girl on the table was me, but the ‘real’ me was up near the ceiling; of that there was no doubt. To this day, the strongest lesson from that experience was the fact that my identity and consciousness were in no way connected to that body on the table.  I was not afraid of that fact, nor anxious in any way about the fate of the girl below. I was safe up on the ceiling and very calm.

Later, I did bring up the mask issue to my doctor, to the nurses, to anyone who would listen. Beyond a few strange looks, they never addressed my concerns. In fact, everything I said to anyone regarding that incident was written off as a hallucination. After that incident, I would occasionally glimpse people and images that others couldn’t see, as if I had been granted temporary access to another world. Every single time I attempted to explain who I was seeing, I was told that I had an overly active imagination, that I was prone to fantasy, or that I was getting sick. Sometimes, the adults would accuse me of manipulating reality for my own entertainment, or as an aggressive game that no one else could play. I learned to shut up whenever I saw, felt, heard or experienced anything out of the ordinary. What a sad lesson.


3: Most adults and most of your peers will think you’re crazy or odd if you say anything about perceiving animals or people who supposedly aren’t there.

The adjective that everyone used to describe me—both family members and friends—was “weird”. That epithet clung to me like a dark cloud. I could never shake the accusations that I “made stuff up,” “lived in a fantasy world,” “created reality,” or “had a vivid imagination.” Every single time I attempted to communicate how I saw the world, I was shot down. If I felt that a passed relative or friend had communicated with me, I was told that I was engaging in wish fulfillment. Unless you have lived through this yourself, you can’t know how painful it is to see the world differently and be told that you are stupid, crazy or deluded.

Much of what was leveled at me was based in fear and ignorance. My memories of a past life were so vivid that much of my behavior as a young child was driven by them. To this day, I have phobias and behaviors that are traceable to a past life. At this point, I don’t care if I can “prove” that to anyone; it’s simply a part of my reality that I have to accept, just as I have to accept my experiences as a child, a teen and an adult as part of who I am. There is no difference. I certainly didn’t choose to be involved in drugs and prostitution as an ideal past incarnation, but we don’t always get to choose, or maybe we never do; in any case, I remember—I will always remember—the shame and sadness of that life, a life that I have spent 47 years attempting to reconcile with my current life. Anyone who tells me that past lives don’t exist has not spent her entire life attempting to overcome the last one. I don’t care what the scientists say, or the academics, or the average Joe: my evidence for reincarnation is, quite simply, who I am.


4: Children come into the world with baggage.

Genetics and heredity do not explain what most parents experience with their children: they come into the world with complex emotions, inexplicable behaviors, preferences, personalities and desires that often confound and confuse their bewildered parents. Almost every parent would say that their child was unique in ways that were not explicable by random combinations of genes. No one has been able to prove that what makes us who we are in terms of personality, memories, identity, sense of self, values, beliefs, attitudes or ideas can be reduced to genetic codes. Where is the code for an intense fear of substance abuse in a four year old?

When I first looked into my nephew’s eyes, I saw a world weariness and a sadness that was centuries old. This was not the infant as blank slate, which was in fact what I was expecting before I looked into his eyes. What I saw, what my sister saw, was a soul that had already lived many times before, and was back for another round. We used to joke that he cried so intensely and with such emotional pain because he couldn’t believe he was a baby again, that he was ‘back’ again. It really isn’t a joke; not to those of us who still remember the long-ago struggles of our lives. It’s easy to laugh, but what is more heart-wrenching than seeing your baby and your toddler struggle with traumas that you had no hand in creating and can’t fix?

So: when mediums write about the afterlife as glorious and trouble free, or when religion paints Heaven as a place of eternal repose and joy, forgive me for remaining skeptical. My experience tells me that life is one, giant recycle bin where consciousness expresses itself over and over again in different bodies. It’s common and constant. We think it’s such a big deal to be born or to die, but consciousness neither comes into being nor goes out; it simply changes venue.

This is neither comforting nor upsetting to me. It just is. Even though I welcome struggle and transcendence, I certainly do not welcome the ugly realities of inhabiting a body that is riddled with disease or addictions. I don’t look forward to a life whose pains and pleasures I cannot predict or even understand right now. Maybe there is a ‘life between lives’ that is pure bliss, but I don’t remember experiencing it. Eastern religions teach that eventually, the cycle of birth and death is overcome and Nirvana awaits; for me, that is wishful thinking. There are infinite lives, in infinite time periods, in infinite circumstances, that one can move through. There is no ‘before’ or ‘after’ when you are discussing consciousness and identity, so ‘coming from’ Heaven or ‘returning to’ Heaven is a meaningless concept.

Listen to your children when they tell you stories of who they were ‘before’. Attentive parents understand the difference between children’s creative fantasy play and real memories. They are essentially different modes of expression. If you are struggling with this as a parent, please go here: http://www.childpastlives.org/

If you are struggling with this issue as an adult, well, that’s the point. It’s all part of your journey.



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I created a persona awhile back named “Ms. Kitty”. She existed then and continues to exist now as a guide and mentor for teenagers. I work with teens all day long and am the parent of one, as well. Although Ms. Kitty was created for teens, she also speaks to adults. The reason I decided to post something my alter ego wrote was simply because she speaks to the soul. We all have an ongoing consciousness that will continue on after our current incarnation has ended. My goal and my hope for those I love is that we are all engaged in a spiritual evolution that will lead us to the next life. Our job in the here and now is to learn how to speak the truth without fear, love without barriers, fix what is broken in us, and reach out and heal the wounds of others in our human community. If we can do that well in this life, the next one will not wound us nearly as profoundly. We come into the world destined to experience pain; but the purpose of pain is to teach, not cripple. I try to tell teenagers that their suffering is real, but not defining or permanent. There is resolution to all unhappiness through action and “reperception;” sometimes, a simple realignment of our perspective and thoughts can create a complete breakthrough in our emotions. Although for most teens their emotions become their reality and identity, they (and we) can learn to change that and see emotions as a temporary result of often misguided thoughts and perceptions. We can, and do, change our reality day by day; choose to see the solutions and they will present themselves as if by magic.

Ms. Kitty hopes that you will find some wisdom in what she says, even if you think the Teenagers’ Dilemmas don’t apply to you.

Dear Ms. Kitty,

I think I have an eating disorder. What do I do?

First and foremost, see your doctor and tell your parents.

Here are my thoughts on the matter: an eating disorder is a form of self-punishment and expresses a need for control. It is also about denying emotions that are painful and somehow unacceptable, especially anger. Starving, binging, alternating between the two, even cutting yourself or using drugs and/or alcohol are different heads on the same monster.

What is the monster? Overwhelming feelings that demand to be understood and acknowledged, but are, instead, ignored. Anger is a big part of the problem: women are taught, usually by example, that expressing anger is unacceptable. However, anger is a natural emotion, and inevitably situations arise that rouse your anger: your friends betray or reject you; your parents have expectations of you that you don’t feel you can manage or achieve; you want yourself to be perfect, to please everyone, and you can’t; you try to ‘save’ a friend from destructive behaviors, and he/she refuses to listen to you; and the list can go on and on.

Imagine how difficult it could be to confront friends who have hurt you and say, “I am angry with you for ignoring me, for making me feel insecure and unhappy, for not being there when I needed you the most”. That’s hard to do. You risk upset and more rejection. Imagine saying to your parents, “I know you want me to be a straight-A student and go to a prestigious college back East, but I can barely manage to survive school every day, much less plan my entire academic future”. You risk facing their disappointment or possible disapproval; or worse, you might end up arguing with them about the ‘reality’ of what you know you feel. Imagine having to admit to yourself that you have let people down, that you are so imperfect that you have hurt others without meaning to. It’s a risk confessing your own imperfection, your inability to be who they want or need you to be, and your fear that they will reject you if you don’t manage to be the person that they expect. Finally, imagine having to admit to yourself that someone you loved, someone you tried to save from her/himself is beyond your help. Admitting that you cannot save someone who you love is difficult, sad and frustrating. You might even feel angry towards this person, and then immediately feel guilty for feeling angry.

So what do you do instead of facing all of these challenges head on? You create a distraction, a way for your mind to focus on something that you can control. Once you realize that you can’t control anyone else, and that your anger about that fact is unacceptable to those who love you, you skip lunch instead and go hungry. That will hurt those who love you, and hurt you: perfect for someone who can’t directly express her anger or other strong emotion, or who doesn’t want to face a painful situation head-on. Or, you can eat three bags of chips, get sick, barf, and start over. You will be so preoccupied with your particular cycle that you won’t have time or energy to deal openly with the people and situations that hurt you. You could also cut yourself, and substitute physical pain and injury for emotional pain and injury. You might opt to take drugs or get drunk, thereby temporarily numbing your anger and pain. There are probably many other ways you could accomplish the task of distraction: stuff your feelings with food until you are obese and physically ill; gamble until you’ve lost your savings; have sex with multiple partners to ensure no one, single person ever really gets close to you; or even decide that you are going to lose yourself in work so that you never see the people that you say you love. 

The monster has many, many heads. We can cycle between self-destructive behaviors, but don’t get distracted by what creates the distraction in the first place. Understand WHY you are running from your emotions. If you’re afraid of your own anger, realize that you must find the truth in order to help yourself, and that sometimes, you have to get angry in a useful and intelligent way in order to get to the bottom of things. Perhaps an example from my own life will help you to see what I mean. Ms. Kitty has trouble still expressing her anger. She thinks that if she gets mad, the people she loves will reject her. That’s not a rational thought, but that’s what her ‘fear body’ has fooled her into thinking. Ms. Kitty was wandering the aisles of a Halloween store with her husband looking at the ridiculous costumes that they sell to adult women. One picture showed a woman with impossibly skinny and long legs wearing a maid’s outfit. Ms. Kitty wondered if she was expected to dress up like this for Halloween. Her husband laughed and said, “You don’t have the legs for it.”

After that, I refused to wear skirts and only wore jeans. I also convinced myself that I needed to stay at a certain weight, or my husband would find someone else. For years, I didn’t buy skirts or wear them, always remembering that “I didn’t have the legs for it.” Also, more importantly, I was furious that my husband would make such a remark and force me to stay at an unreasonable weight and not wear what I wanted to. Secretly, I feared he was intolerant and too focused on looks, and I wondered if our relationship could last if that were the case. Pondering that caused me to panic, thinking I was about to be abandoned. That, in turn, sent me to the gym in the quest to make my legs good enough for a skirt. Finally, one day, my husband asked me why I never wore a skirt. I told him the story I just told you. He was horrified. “That’s not what I meant!” he cried, “the legs on that model were freakish and Photo shopped! NOBODY HAS THE LEGS THAT SHE DOES!! I NEVER wanted you to look like that!” I think he cried when he finally understood why he never saw my legs.

I had changed my wardrobe, worked out my legs until my knees ached and occasionally skipped meals (although, to be honest, Ms. Kitty loves to eat, so she would usually make up for a skipped meal later with a bag of stuffed jalapeños) so that I would ‘have the legs’ to wear a skirt. More importantly, I re-defined myself as someone with ‘bad legs’ all due to a remark that I had MISUNDERSTOOD. If had expressed my anger at the time it was appropriate to express it, if I had said: “What do you mean I don’t have the legs for this skirt? That’s rude and cruel; how DARE you tell me something like that?” my husband would have immediately corrected my misperception, and I would have been spared years of insecurity about my body.

Now, imagine that the consequences are much bigger than hiding your legs. Let’s say that you tell your friends something very important about you, you confide a secret to them, and they betray you by telling someone else or by not supporting you. That’s much worse than a misinterpreted remark. You have the right to be angry; very angry. You must confront those who hurt you, and tell them why you feel the way you do. You must do this in an intelligent fashion; no need to be aggressive or nasty. You must tell them the truth and let them ponder it. Once the truth is out, there is no need to create a monster for yourself; there is no need to cut, starve, binge, barf, pierce everything, avoid everyone or gamble your life savings. The truth creates freedom, because you shift the burden of your emotions from you to the people who need to feel what you feel, because they, in part, have created the crisis. Sometimes people are utterly clueless that they have created a crisis or hurt you; your job is to let them know, sometimes gently, sometimes with force. If those people don’t want to understand or react poorly, then walk away and consider yourself fortunate that toxic friends or family are out of your life for awhile. If they can face their part in your pain, then maybe you can let them back in. If they can’t, turn the other cheek, don’t hate or turn on yourself, and find that community of people that will not judge, criticize, label or ignore you. Those people are everywhere. You are more loved, by the way, than you probably fully understand or realize.

Every time you face the truth and feel the appropriate emotion for the situations you find yourself in, you will slay the monsters of self destruction. Those monsters only turn on you, because you are not turning to the people who can help and turning away from the people that hurt. Sometimes, the truth can make other people uncomfortable. Well, that’s just too bad. We all have to face reality and come to terms with the fantasies we create in order to protect us. Adults have to realize that we create more subtle monsters, such as losing ourselves in an obsession that we call a hobby, or becoming zombies in front of the television or computer. We’re afraid of the world out there and of the power of our own emotions and thoughts. The world out there will find a way in, and our emotions will find a way out; let’s make sure that we’re healthy enough to handle both.

And, by the way, I bought a bunch of skirts. I discovered that I don’t really like skirts, because I like to sit in unladylike positions. I NEVER skip a meal unless I have the flu, and I go to the gym only to stay reasonably strong. I have the legs and the guts to take care of myself, and maybe help you, dear reader, as well.

–Ms. Kitty

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In my last post, I attempted to reconcile Dr. Lanza’s theory of biocentrism with prevailing notions of time and causality. After much consideration, I have to discard the notion that nothing exists outside of our perception of it, or that we create our reality without any interaction from a separate, external reality. I started to feel crazy the more I read, which is why it took more than a month to add to this post. Current theories of consciousness and reality are in conflict with one another, and I doubt that I will be the one to resolve these disparate philosophies.

I’m currently reading Christian de Quincey’s amazing and incredibly thorough Radical Nature, (2010) and I’ve just completed Colm A. Kelleher’s Hunt for the Skinwalker (2005). These works are apparently unrelated: Quincey’s tome covers the history and current theories of “panpsychism” (a theory that proposes the notion that all matter is imbued with consciousness at the most fundamental level)  and Kelleher’s book details the years-long investigation of a Utah ranch with a long history of UFO contact and other “high strangeness” (an investigation carried out by the now-defunct National Institute for Discovery Science). However, something does connect the two along with our best EVP evidence. The result for me, at least, is disturbing and overwhelming. Every time I get close to understanding what might be happening out there, I have to stop all research and plant some herbs. It’s just too much.

So here it is: consciousness, for de Quincey, permeates all levels of reality, down to the microscopic core. Everything, therefore, is alive:

“If the universe is dead, it tells no stories. The implication of this is that if the universe is not “dead,” if it is not simply a huge mechanical system running according to a handful of laws at work in a vast ocean of chaos, then it is in some sense “alive.” A more accurate term would be “sentient”–an inherent capacity for feeling or experience. In other words, to make explicit the main argument of this book: The matter of the universe, its raw “stuff” or ingredients, has within itself the essence of what we call “consciousness.” There is something about matter itself, some quality or property, some intrinsic principle, that moves matter from within, an automotive urge toward self-organization, evolution, and complexity. In short, matter feels and moves itself. It doesn’t require external forces pushing and pulling it.” (38)

Perhaps this is where there is some relationship possible between Lanza’s and de Quincey’s view: we can “call forth” this ‘quality or property’ that moves itself. Human, animal consciousness could exert great power over living matter and space. It could create the necessary conditions for contact with other souls/spirits/energies/beings that might spring forth from this matrix that allows for or creates life at all levels. Another way of saying this is simply that the energy of our awareness and mental/emotional will could ‘draw out’ specific aspects–even specific individuals or souls–from the universe. If the universe is multidimensional, as many physicists believe that it is–we could connect with living beings through our questioning and conscious intent to make contact. If all of matter is conscious–if the entire fabric of our reality is, in some sense ‘aware’, as both quantum physics and de Quincey’s consciousness study suggest–then is could also be ‘responsive,’ able to interact with us when we make the request (or call something into being, as Lanza would say). 

What, exactly, responds to us is another issue entirely. Lanza might suggest that we are seeking and responding to ourselves, creating our own fragmented consciousness and then–in the ultimate display of solipsism–listening back to projections of our own mental processes while thinking that through our audio recordings we’ve ‘made contact’ with a separate, human being.  I don’t go that far. It’s a more complex question than that. If we are inhabiting a living universe with multiple dimensions, then we could, on occasion, cross that barrier and find someone. That someone might be the spirit of Grandpa Joe, or it could be entirely alien, originating in a split-off universe inhabited by creatures we can only imagine.

In Hunt for the Skinwalker, Kelleher ponders the possible reasons for the Gorman’s terrifying experiences on the ranch, including (but not limited to) cattle mutilations, flying orbs of various sizes and colors, UFO sightings, strange animal sighting and poltergeist-like activity. After covering a number of explanations, I find myself stuck on a particular one that weaves together the experiences of so many witnesses (and victims) over the decades and also works with the theories of reality that make the most sense of quantum behaviors:

“After experiencing all sorts of bizarre activity during his research on UFOs, John Keel formulated his “ultraterrestrial” hypothesis, which postulates that Earth has shared living space for millenia with other intelligent beings who interact with humans when they choose to, who are more intelligent than us, and who manipulate our physical and psychic reality for their own obscure agendas. [See Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse for details on the phenomena he endured] . . . Keel’s description of existing in the strange netherworld between reality and some deeply disturbing nightmare exactly encapsulate the Gormans’ description of what life was like on the ranch prior to NIDS investigation.” (240-241)

UFO experiencers and victims of hauntings and poltergeists might be on the threshold of new realities that choose to (or happen to) invade or flood our dimension either purposefully (the ‘unknown agenda’ to which Kelleher refers) or accidentally (although the patterns of this ultra or extraterrestrial activity seem to indicate otherwise). These ‘new realities’ also rely on our participation and interaction in the experience itself. Weaving these strands together, we see the following:

1) The Universe is sentient from ‘top to bottom’;

2) Humans call into being a particular reality which is not necessarily ‘ultimate’, transcendent or common to all life forms (indeed, it is not) but suited to our current, terrestrial condition as intelligent and conscious animals–however, this does NOT mean that we have wholly created something with no independent existence;

3) Our consciousness is not of necessity connected to our animal state and is, rather, an expression of the sentient universes;

4) There are likely multiple dimensions with a tremendous variety of life forms inhabiting them;

5) Space and time perceptions will vary from world to world;

6) Our consciousness can ‘disconnect’ from it’s biological moorings and allow us glimpses into other worlds and realities.

I could probably come up with 100 statements like this, but to sum up: EVPs could be inter or intra dimensional voices that are not human (hence the odd, robotic sounds we often pick up that sound nothing like someone’s voice) or they could be capturing a consciousness unmoored from the constraints of time and space; in other words, we could pick up not only voices from our world’s past, but from some other world’s future. We could also be picking up our own voices in another dimension. We can’t assume that what we hear is from the past, present or future or even emanates from a human consciousness–we could well be hearing alien voices from 2300 AD. The reason we’re hearing anything at all is because we are bringing it into reality; whereas paranormal phenomena were only floating in a sea of multiple possibilities before, we capture something specific as soon as we start to measure it. Our measurement does not CREATE multiple realities, but simply collapses the possibilities into one. Were we to experience all realities at once, we would certainly abandon our sanity or simply shut it all out due to biological necessity.

Sometimes it seems that our multiverses and created realities are something out of science fiction. I actually would prefer that all this were fiction, instead of the result of well-researched work by scientists, doctors, philosophers and other professionals who are all slowly, gradually, beginning to agree on some of the basic characteristics and origins of the high strangeness that permeates our world. I’m afraid that now, after thinking about this all morning before committing words to paper, I must go plant some basil . . . or I might lose my mind.

Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D

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Robert Lanza, MD

 Author’s note: I’m writing this in bits and pieces, which seems appropriate to the topic. Since I wrote the body of the paper, I posted a query on Facebook regarding time and entropy, and received some great responses and leads. I’ve dutifully read and considered the responses and followed up the recommendation to read Sean Carroll’s website. I did, in fact, slog through great sections of From Eternity to Here, but I confess that I felt, at times, overwhelmed by the content. I must revisit the book and read it again more carefully. Also, I checked reviews for Biocentrism and was dismayed by the sheer nastiness of many people purporting to “critique” his work. More often than not, reviewers—scientists and non-scientists alike—were unbearably nasty and disrespectful to the author. A notable exception is Richard Conn Henry’s quick overview (http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/biocentrism.pdf) where he points out factual errors in Lanza’s physics, but ends up agreeing with his major tenets. Otherwise, there was much Lanza bashing out there, boiling down to the fact that anyone who seeks to merge any kind of spirituality into the study of the universe is a complete, babbling New Age idiot enamored of bad science and bewitched by ‘woo’. Sigh. My entire website would be bashed mercilessly for the same reason. I am not a scientist, but I do have a sharp, critical mind honed by decades of reading and study, helped along by a Yale Ph.D in literature and culture. That doesn’t matter at all for those with degrees in the sciences, which apparently gives many critics license to disembowel you with sarcasm and contempt. However, if you try to do something really big—like explain the universe and its workings as related to human consciousness—you’re bound to upset people. What interests me, of course, is how all of this relates to life after death, or to the survival of consciousness unfettered from the animal, so to speak. If you will kindly bear with me as I first discuss the general implications of Lanza’s work, I will address the issue of EVPs and evidence for the afterlife right afterwards. I promise.

I tried. I really did. I’ve slogged through so many ‘popular’ books on quantum mechanics and Theories of Everything that I’ve lost count. The latest one was Dr. Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism. I have not finished the book yet, but I’m close. I’ve made it through six of the basic tenets or precepts of his theory. I thought this biocentric view—in which living things create all reality according to their perceptions and perspective–was pretty amazing, but I was troubled by the need to obliterate objective reality in favor of one entirely dependent on us. He explained why it is when you kick a tree, it hurts—it’s not because the tree has any objective reality, it’s simply a complex reaction between wave-functions of the tree that have collapsed into ‘thing that causes pain’, or something like that. I confess, it’s a little murky to me. I lay awake last night wondering how Dr. Lanza would explain why it is that a tree could fall on us and kill us, even though we never looked at it, never ‘collapsed’ it into reality or filtered it through our sensory systems.

I then wondered why it is that we all agree to such a large extent on what constitutes outside reality (assuming, as I’m afraid I still do, that such a thing exists) and to what we are referring when we use language. I suppose Dr. Lanza would say that a community of human animals agrees on illusory external realities because we all process information in a similar way: we’re built from the same ‘stuff’, so to speak. Then, just because I thought it would be fun to fret over this until 4 AM, I questioned the entire time issue. Of course, time is relative, and I do understand that on a layperson’s level. If you’re shot out into space and travel at a certain speed, you will age more slowly than your counterparts on Earth. There is even a formula to determine this. What upsets me about time is its relation to aging, to ‘entropy’, I think, if one can equate the two. We assume that as we age, time is passing; somehow, time is responsible for wrinkles and bad knees. Dr. Lanza says that the very notion of time is illusory, created by humans to make sure we can get to the office on time and function in a capitalist society (those are my words regarding the office and capitalism). Simply because we measure something does not mean that it exists in any objective sense or in any sense at all. Clocks are solely for convenience; as the author claims, we could measure the same thing by melting ice cubes or sunsets or tides.

So why, then, do we age and die as all biological things are wont to do? Dr. Lanza maintains that where we see progressive change there is really only a series of present moments that we link together and pretend form some kind of coherent trajectory from past to present to future. I think we all accept that the past and future don’t really ‘exist’ in any meaningful sense; the past lives only through memory of it (and we all know how tricky and deceptive memory is; even if we could remember everything ‘perfectly,’ we still don’t know what it is that we are remembering—certainly nothing material, nothing we can point to) and the future hasn’t happened yet, so by definition it has no objective existence either. This eternal present has always terrified me, because it rips me out of context. I think our author would say that ‘context’ is just the human animal’s way of making sense of things that aren’t there. That’s the problem. The previous statement doesn’t mean anything, yet that’s what Dr. Lanza is saying. Back to the aging and dying issue: all of humans experience this trajectory, whether or not ‘time’ exists. It seems to me that if we all share this path, always, without exception, then something ‘like’ time is happening to us. We don’t have to call it time, but we have to call it something. Here’s a quick and concise definition of entropy:

“Entropy is a measure of order and disorder. If left alone, aging systems go spontaneously from youthful, low entropy and order to old, high entropy and disorder”. (http://www.worldscibooks.com/popsci/p597.html)

So if entropy is responsible for aging and ultimately what we call ‘death’, then what is entropy’s relationship to time? If time is a human-made illusion, then what is killing us? The key word in the quote above is ‘spontaneously’. That word, by definition, indicates that a process is occurring without resorting to the passage of time. How is it that aging can occur ‘spontaneously’? If it is not a process, and doesn’t the word ‘process’ indicate something occurring over time, then what the heck is it? I’m afraid that Dr. Lanza cannot say that time is purely illusory when biological systems age and die due to a process that we call entropy. His argument against this is interesting, yet in many ways illogical.

He states that what we see as having progressed to a state of entropy is simply another snapshot in the present moment, and what we observe is change from one present moment to another present moment; it’s only our interpretation that sees a progression or superimposes a pattern or value judgment. In other words, aging is an assumption we make when faced with changes in the human organism. Those changes result from an illusory past in the first place. If time doesn’t happen, then change doesn’t either; therefore, nothing we observe is a result of a change. We don’t, however, live in the eternal present. I would argue that we can’t. Does it make sense that we could possibly understand life as one present moment after another and then death? We can’t think that way, so if that’s the way “things really are,” then what’s the point if we can’t make that conceptual leap? The Theory of Everything makes no sense if we can’t live it or even fully grasp it.

I have to finish the entire book before I get to the implications of Dr. Lanza’s theory. If life creates consciousness and consciousness creates the universe and everything in it, we are certainly all-powerful. Maybe he is about to say that we are eternal, since nothing that is out of time can possibly cease to exist. OK, so I will take that to mean that my consciousness is boundless and not in any way bound by change (an illusion created by time). However, I know that I will age and die, as evidenced by everything around me succumbing to entropy. So I’m back to square one. My death means something to me, as it does to those who love me. Of course, if Dr. Lanza says that Kirsten will ALWAYS exist, the question is HOW will she always exist? All that which limits my consciousness—including my body, my perceptions, and my brain—is what I know as real. One might TELL me that what I know as real actually isn’t, but that doesn’t change anything for me. You can say that my iced-cream is an illusion that I brought into existence, but in any case, it tastes the same whether it is an external reality or a consciousness-created reality.

The following quote is from Sean Carroll’s web site:

“The first mystery of the arrow of time is that it’s nowhere to be found in the fundamental laws of physics. Those laws work perfectly well if we run processes backwards in time. (More rigorously, for every allowed process there exists a time-reversed process that is also allowed, obtained by switching parity and exchanging particles for antiparticles — the CPT Theorem.) Nevertheless, the macroscopic world we observe is full of irreversible processes. The puzzle is to reconcile microscopic reversibility with macroscopic irreversibility.”

Therein lays the issue, the knot: what happens on a microscopic level—including, of course, the quantum level—is apparently NOT occurring on the macroscopic level. Photons can behave in bizarre, contradictory and fantastic ways, but that doesn’t mean anything in our large, material world is doing anything remotely like it. Our ‘big’ world seems to function according to the classical laws of physics. There are two possibilities here: we have a fundamental contradiction which can only be resolved when someone—probably a physicist—finds the missing link (something like the debunked notion of the aether) that explains everything (the GUT: Grand Unifying Theory), OR the world on the macroscopic level DOES contain all of the contradictions of the quantum level upon which its existence rests, and we simply haven’t devised the correct experiments to illustrate this correlate. Again from Sean Carroll’s web site:

“Is there any way the arrow of time can be explained dynamically?

I can think of two ways. One is to impose a boundary condition that enforces one end of time to be low-entropy, whether by fiat or via some higher principle; this is the strategy of Roger Penrose’s Weyl Curvature Hypothesis, and arguably that of most flavors of quantum cosmology. The other is to show that reversibilty is violated spontaneously — even if the laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, the relevant solutions to those laws might not be. However, if there exists a maximal entropy (thermal equilibrium) state, and the universe is eternal, it’s hard to see why we aren’t in such an equilibrium state — and that would be static, not constantly evolving. This is why I personally believe that there is no such equilibrium state, and that the universe evolves because it can always evolve. The trick of course, is to implement such a strategy in a well-founded theoretical framework, one in which the particular way in which the universe evolves is by creating regions of post-Big-Bang space-time such as the one in which we find ourselves.”

 So, if the universe were static and eternal, time would be an illusion that we clearly create from a biocentric position. If, however, the universe is constantly evolving, we certainly do need time to account for that. Of course, Lanza would say that the universe is only evolving because we “evolve” it through our perceptions. I think he goes too far, actually. It’s an interesting idea that he presents, but it makes much more sense that the internal/external worlds are in relationship to each other, not that one precludes the other:

“To say that time is not well understood is one thing, but to assert that time is therefore an illusion seems unfounded to me. When forced to summarize his conclusion, he (page 111) backtracks from the bolder statements and writes only that: “Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.” I could add that time is real because mind and change are real.” http://darwiniana.com/2010/02/12/biocentrism-review/

I’m inclined to agree with the author of this quote. We perceive changes in the universe and the passage of time through our ‘animal sense perception,’ but that doesn’t mean that time and change are non-existent properties or phenomena. We need the notion of time for classical physics and we don’t, really (from what I am able to glean) for quantum physics, but again—time appears to be a hypothetical concept in every area of cosmology, necessary but not ‘proven’. Time may not exist, but entropy does, and I feel entropy as growing older and facing biological death. My experience of time leads me to believe that I (and all other living things) am in a constant state of evolution and flux. What might stand apart from that? Consciousness. It is entirely possible that what is in the constant evolutionary state is the material world, not the quantum world. If my consciousness arises from a quantum field, if awareness itself functions according to the rules of the sub-atomic realm, then consciousness is not bound by time and would, theoretically, continue on indefinitely.

Critics would accuse me of bringing ‘dualism’ back into the discussion as an excuse to save the notion of a soul. However, I’ve never understood why dualism is such a dirty word for scientists. If we can have a material and a quantum world that function according to different paradigms, then why is it not possible that the ‘human animal’ functions in two entirely different ways as well? Why could we not be both ‘material’ and ‘quantum’? Yes, I realize that no one has proven that consciousness emerges from a quantum field; however, it seems the best explanation that we have right now. Now we can engage in Part Two of this grand discussion, which involves the data that paranormal researchers bring back from their investigations. Yes, I realize that many scientists will stop reading right here and forever turn their backs on soulbank (if they would even look at it to begin with) and everything herein contained, but . . . we DO come back with tantalizing data that is not explained by normal means. I can say that with authority after years of painstakingly sorting through audio, video, ITC sessions and so on. I think that the hypothesis that consciousness occupies the quantum space might explain EVPs and all the other anomalies we bring home and puzzle over.


Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D

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