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Posts Tagged ‘survival of consciousness’

Want to hear something scary? There is a growing consensus in the psychiatric community that some cases of mental illness are caused by malignant spirits taking over a mind. Richard Gallagher trained in psychiatry at Yale University and is a practicing psychoanalyst and . . . exorcist. Although the vast majority of those practicing mental health care refuse to believe in the reality of demons affecting one’s mind, Dr. Gallagher is ” . . . pleasantly surprised by the number of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners nowadays who are open to entertaining such hypotheses. Many believe exactly what I do, though they may be reluctant to speak out.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/07/01/as-a-psychiatrist-i-diagnose-mental-illness-and-sometimes-demonic-possession/?utm_term=.b5895e67d890)

I’ve written before about possession and exorcism, and the insights I gleaned from my meeting with a Catholic priest who is also an exorcist. In that meeting, I received his blessing to assist in such work. I have yet to truly throw myself into this vital, spiritual work, a fact which may explain my current state of mind (I’m wasting my talents, truth be told, as are so many of us who study the ‘paranormal’). However, the topic of this post is slightly different. Many of us–scholars or not, mental health experts or not–agree based on the evidence that demonic possession is a reality for an unfortunate few. What I don’t see discussed as much in academic circles is the reality of possession by non-demonic entities.

Once you admit the possibility that an evil entity, a dark spirit, can and does take over a body, mind and soul, then you must admit that the same phenomena can occur with beings that are not demonic in nature. If it is possible for a demon to possess a living person, then it is possible for any person in spirit to do the exact, same thing via a similar mechanism. Exactly how this happens is unknown to me, but I hypothesize that you must be in a vulnerable state: altered by drugs or alcohol, severely depressed and/or anxious, inviting such contact via ouija boards, channeling, automatic writing or (it must be said) so-called ‘ghost hunting’. If you are a spiritually grounded person with a strong religious practice and belief, you are more protected from the invading spirit; however, those of us who dabble in spirit contact are most definitely at risk. The reality of this possibility is what is at the heart of our gradual decline in time spent investigating the paranormal, which seems to happen to all of us. It isn’t that we don’t believe it after years of spirit contact, it’s that we discover how powerful these connections are, and we realize how much that contact affects us emotionally and spiritually.

Spirits, souls, conscious beings, are in contact with us on a daily basis. Most mediums talk about the ‘veil’ that separates the living and the ‘dead’; this language is reflected in theories of the multiverse and other ‘theories of everything’ that postulate multiple dimensions. Dr. Robert Lanza’s ideas concerning death and multiple dimensions go a step further: not only does consciousness continue in other dimensions, ‘death’ as a concept is meaningless. It essentially doesn’t exist except as a description of a mundane, physical process which has no bearing on the conscious, individual human being. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/is-there-an-afterlife-the-science-of-biocentrism-can-prove-there-is-claims-professor-robert-lanza-8942558.htmlWhatever it is that separates multiple dimensions, whether it be vibrating strings or dark matter, the systems of separation are not perfect and break down. Or, more tantalizingly, WE can break them down through mental effort and meditative practice. Once the boundaries of a multiverse are breached, we can’t keep whoever is living there ‘out’ of our reality. Their energy flows through, finds us, penetrates our consciousness and plays out its need for communication or emotion.

In simple terms, our interaction with what we call ‘ghosts’ often results in spirits finding a receptive home to express themselves through us.  This explains many mysteries and questions of mine that up to now, seem to have no answer. Boundaries are broken down between dimensions, and our easy classification of ourselves as one being, one spirit, in isolation from all others, disintegrates. We are all interconnected and affect one another in ways both subtle and obvious. Therefore, to provide an example, a haunted house story is not a story of a person who discovers ghosts, but of ghosts who discover a person and the beginning of a relationship where all entities rely on each other’s energy and emotion. When you enter into an emotional relationship with the spirits around you, the ‘haunting’ isn’t about the ‘other,’ it’s about all parties involved. You may not realize that your persistent, depressed mood or your strange reactions to familiar situations have to do with someone else living in you, with someone else sharing your psychic space.

Is that possession? It’s probably more ‘influence’ or even relationship. If you have ever felt an inexplicably strong connection to a house or other place, it is likely that you are experiencing the effects of your intimate interaction with the spirits you’ve come to know quite well there, even if not consciously. Much of this phenomena is experienced in the subconscious mind, where our ego and super ego (to borrow from Freud for a moment) expend much energy repressing, denying and fleeing from the truth of our spiritual attachments and engagements. How much of what we feel, what we do, how we react to other people, how we live our lives, has to do with spiritual relationships of which we are hardly aware? That is a sobering question.

There are things I need to know, but the process of understanding frightens me. I would like to know the identity of the spirits who live with me or interact with me. I would like to separate myself just a little more from their influence. That requires an investigation into other dimensions of reality and that, in turn, requires a professional medium of great talent and respectability. That is more than likely the next step for me. It is not easy for me to trust other people, especially people who interpret in my stead what my reality might be. I have always despised that trait in others: the individual who pretends to know more than you about your own life. However, I do believe that trustworthy mediums exist and can shed light on the spiritual mystery that surrounds us all. Of course, those of us who regularly attend church in the Christian tradition understand that this spirit world is all around us at all times, effecting changes and transitions of which we are barely aware. The church, however, tries hard to manage, limit and interpret our spiritual experiences so that they do not fall outside the accepted boundaries of Scripture. I need more than that.

Think about the ways that your spirit interacts with others, both in the flesh and transcendent. If there are no boundaries to spirit, and we are all spirit, then to speak of ‘containers’ of flesh, vibrating strings, dark matter, conscious and subconscious, is all a waste of time. The categories ‘dead’ and ‘living’ are nonsensical when you’re are speaking of souls and not of matter. Just as the spirit of your nasty boss can harm you, so can the spirit of the guy who drowned himself in your bathtub years before you moved into your house. The charge, then, is to be more aware, more conscious, of who is affecting your heart, mind and soul, and where you need to draw the line on a psychic invasion. It would be wise to start with meditation and prayer. But I don’t plan to end there.

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHWkirsten-in-2017

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Dr. Alan Hugenot is a medium who is also an engineer and a classically trained physicist. I don’t like long quotes, but if I’m going to reference someone as an authority on something as important as life after death, make sure that your readers know who this person is. Here is his own bio on LinkedIn, but you should read more on your own:

alainhugenot

Dr. Hugenot is a semi-retired, Naval Architect & Marine Engineer, who often works as an expert witness in maritime cases. After surviving a Near-Death experience in 1970 which occurred during a 12 hour coma, he has made a 45 year, scientific study of Consciousness Survival and Evidential Mediumship. The NDE “opened” his consciousness to intuitive communications, and after completing studies with the Morris Pratt Institute (NSAC), and Arthur Findlay College of Psychic Science (SNU), He currently serves as research medium with the Consciousness Research Lab at IONS (Noetic.org) with Dr. Dean Radin, Ph.D and Dr. Arnaud Delorme, Ph.D, and also with Dr. Gary Swartz (University of Arizona). He currently serves on the Board of Directors for both the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS.org) and the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies (ASCSi.org). He is fascinated with parapsychological science and the physics of consciousness, consciousness survival in an afterlife, mediumship, remote viewing, and out of body experiences. Trained in classical Newtonian physics, but having also experienced the phenomena of consciousness survival and out-of-body consciousness, he realizes that our materialist paradigm is an extremely restricted aperture for viewing the larger reality of the Conscious Universe, yet he also comprehends the skeptic’s perceptive difficulty that, “Consciousness survival can never be observed unless the observer first infers that it could be possible”. He speaks several times each month at various conferences on Death, Consciousness Survival and Mediumship Science in North America at local IONS and IANDS groups and at various Unity and Spiritualist churches. He also holds workshops on Evidential Mediumship. He is available, by prior arrangement, to speak and hold workshops throughout Europe and the British Commonwealth.

What I like about Dr. Hugenot: He made a decision to become medium via intense study and preparation, discarding the notion that the scientist or the observer must keep herself at a skeptical distance in order to draw conclusions or gather evidence about survival of consciousness. The preponderance of the evidence is in favor of the existence of ‘discarnate entities’ who communicate with us via signs, direct voice, writing, channeling and other means. It is NOT that we don’t have enough evidence to support our beliefs in the afterlife; the issue is that we can’t convince the majority of the scientific community to examine the evidence because they refuse to consider the question. If you refuse, a priori, to study the evidence because it concerns an issue that requires you to abandon materialism, then you cannot convince a skeptic. Oddly enough, this has led to an anti-scientific attitude among the materialists, since they will not consider the results of studies carried out at universities and government agencies that followed scientific protocol. Dr. Hugenot joins the ranks of Dr. Morse, Dr. Stevens, Dr. Mona Schultz, Dr. Parnia and so many others who have found reasonable grounds for accepting the continuation of consciousness. We need to be reminded: science has not proven that consciousness arises from brain function, an assumption upon which materialists rely.

Another fascinating theory that Dr. Hugenot proposes: the ‘near death’ experience is an actual ‘death experience.’ Therefore, the question of reincarnation has been solved: if you return to your body after you died (Dr. Sam Parnia discusses this in depth–he has resuscitated patients who he considered dead–no less dead than those who don’t return to their bodies), you HAVE REINCARNATED. Not, clearly, into another body, but back into the one you had before. That fact alone is enough to upend any thinking person’s world view. Several of us wandering around right now have returned to our bodies after death. We have reincarnated. If we could do it once, why could we not do it again in a different body?

There is much more that you need to hear. Go to his page and listen to the videos. They might just change your life.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

 

 

 

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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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life and death quote

If you believe, like so many profess to, in the existence of the human soul (or consciousness, if you prefer) as something separate from the material body, then you must also accept that the sharp distinctions we draw between life and death don’t make logical sense. How do you define life? Are you so completely entwined and identified with your body and its chemical processes that you can’t imagine a ‘self’ without them? It’s a bit like saying that your car is you, or your clothes are you; if you leave one and shed the other, are you no longer yourself?

I have written before about what all children know when their pet dies. After ‘death,’ the body has nothing to do with the pet. Everything that made that animal your pet departs at the moment of death. We do ourselves a disservice by asking WHERE the pet ‘went.’ The usual categories upon which we depend to locate a self do not apply here. Only in the material world can one say where you are in space and time. Does that mean that you do not exist after your material body ‘gives up the ghost’? Of course not. You exist, but not as a material entity. Sometimes we can contact the self that exists after physical death, and for centuries, human beings have done so. Contact with the non-material self has happened countless times and will continue to happen.

Why is this so hard to believe? For me, that’s the real mystery. There is abundant evidence dating back thousands of years that all cultures on this planet have engaged in practices designed to contact the departed. Contact with the ‘deceased’ has been empirically studied for 150 years. That’s all the Society for Psychical Research did for many, many years. In any jury on the planet, the case for life after life has been proven time and time and time again. Why, then, is our culture so loath to accept something that any intelligent human being, reviewing the evidence, would be utterly convinced of?

Two reasons:

1) American culture focuses almost exclusively on the material world, because we are a capitalist culture that needs materialism to justify our economic system. If you focus exclusively on making this life comfortable and fun, then you need to buy a lot of stuff to accomplish the American goal of getting rich. YOLO is the supporting doctrine for consumerism. BUY baby, buy a lot, because you only live once!!!

2) Religion. If religion is the exclusive domain of the human spirit, then all expressions of that spirit can be controlled and defined by doctrine, often in the service of an economic and political system that directly benefits from that doctrine (think fundamentalists of any stripe).

OK, so you might think that this is all too pessimistic or too conspiracy-theorist, but it makes sense to me after years of contemplating this topic. If you agree, or if you don’t, write to me!

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

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Praying hands

Praying hands

2015 ended poorly. In fact, without going into great detail, the year left me in a state of near constant anxiety, insecurity, sadness and confusion. When I have fallen into a state of spiritual disrepair, I pray; but I am not satisfied with the way I am praying. Prayer, I should add, has nothing to do with one’s religious affiliation. Prayer is universal and cosmic in nature.

What do I not like about the way I have connected–or not connected–with God? I wasn’t sure until this morning. Sometimes, what you THINK is bothering you is simply a screen or a deflection from what is ACTUALLY bothering you. Praying for a particular outcome does not work. For me, there is no point praying that I won’t die or get sick, because it is our peculiar human destiny–along with everything in the natural, material world–to get sick and die. I might hate that, find it unfair, repugnant, crazy, terrible, and so on, but I can’t change it, and I’m not going to pray for the impossible. When I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness 18 years ago, I did not pray that God would spare my life. I asked only that the result of the process leave me more spiritually evolved and more healed as a broken human than I was before.

I didn’t die. Once again, I survived. I did grow a tremendous amount in the direction of God, but what really upset me was the reality of what that means. Following God can be terribly painful. It means letting go of the people who have hurt you, giving up homes, family, friends and sometimes, your very life. Most of all, following a universal principle means losing your fear. You are forced to lose your fear to follow God, even the biggest fear of all: your physical death. Did I succeed in losing my fear? HELL NO. However, I did learn a huge lesson: as long as you try to control what happens to you and to other people, you will be miserable and afraid. I can’t control someone else’s path in life, even if that path horrifies me, upsets me or confuses me. I can’t even control what happens to me, much less other people! My job is not to micromanage change, but to accept it and attempt to understand it. Of course, I can take productive and proactive steps to change my circumstances, and one should always move forward on a path towards a goal; but if the path floods or you get lost along the way, what matters is your resilience, your faith and you ability to see God through the obstacles.

I have discovered that it is far better to pray for someone’s continued, spiritual evolution and healing. I can’t know what form that will take. If I pray for one’s spirit instead of one’s body, I have allowed God to decide the form that the healing will take. That is what I am attempting to do for everyone I love: I won’t pray that Uncle Todd stop smoking, but I will pray that he is spiritually transformed to such an extent that he will no longer wish to harm his body, the temple for his soul. This is all we can do, pray for enlightenment, for progress, for deep understanding. The particular way this progress will manifest itself is not our concern or within our power to determine.

When I thought I had only a few years left of life back in my early thirties, I understood it was useless to ask God to spare my life. If I needed to die to evolve in the next life, then so be it. If I was supposed to lose my life at that time in my development, then my job was to accept it as gracefully as possible and find a way to make that time mean something. For in truth, we are ALL on borrowed time and we ALL have to learn this lesson, whether we have only a few months to figure it our, or a few decades. In the end, we have the same task; some of us have to learn it faster than others. None of us escape suffering, and it is now my belief that most of us don’t learn anything at all unless we’re in pain and we figure out how to relieve that pain through considered and thoughtful prayer and meditation.

My particular case is odd, since I was dying at age five from kidney problems. I truly was not expected to survive, and I knew it then. What has been the strangest experience for me in this life is to have survived at all. I think that is why I am often confused about my path, about what I am supposed to do with myself. That is why every year I make resolutions to figure out what my mission is as Kirsten in this life. Death seems oddly more familiar to me, and what I mean by that is not annihilation of consciousness, but that state one is in between lives. I came into the world very strongly connected to my previous life (I have written about this before in previous posts on this site) and remembering a great deal of who I used to be. As a child, I felt that I was ‘going back’ to a place I had been before that was much more familiar than the hospital and my family. I couldn’t explain where that place was or what my role was in it, but I KNEW it. Now, halfway through my life, I still feel that I am not entirely HERE. On a purely animal level, death terrifies me. The physical self is hard wired not to die. On the level of consciousness and identity, death means very little. It’s a gateway to a more understandable world. I was there before, I’ll be there again.

I do believe with all my heart and soul that prayer works and is effective, but not if the prayer is directed towards specific, concrete, ego-driven goals or desires. The prayer must not be grounded in fear of loss. The only prayers that work are those that ask for love and light to do their work in and through us. We must heal our fractured, fearful minds before the real work of transformation can begin.

Many blessings to you and yours in 2016.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

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0016OP

0016OP

Kitty Odd Black and White

This time of year is really difficult for me. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and have to use a ‘happy light’, but it’s not just that–these short days and the odd winter light make me think of death, not birth; so while Christians celebrate the arrival of Jesus (which, in fact, happened in September according to historical records), I am contemplating the endings of things.

I accept my particular mindset and the inevitability of my mood this time of year, but sometimes, I really need help. That happened yesterday. I was tired of my general tendency to believe that anything really good that happens to me or to my little family will be followed swiftly by some kind of cosmic punishment. It looks like we just bought a house for the first time since we lost our home in 2013, via a you-have-no-choice short sale. I have been so overwhelmed by this that I managed to convince myself that since something good just happened, I will either get cancer, or a truck will flatten me crossing the street from Starbucks, or we’ll have some catastrophic event that will drain all of our money and put us in the street, or some other variation on that general theme.

I parked near the soon-to-be new house and walked a few minutes until I reached a trail behind Mulholland (this is one, big reason we bought the house–the location allows me to walk into the hills). I scurried into the scrubby, fragrant underbrush and soon was well hidden among the tumbleweeds, oak trees and prickly bushes whose name I never look up. The goldfinches were cheeping and extracting seeds from dry weeds, a scrub jay cried out nearby, and assorted hummingbirds zoomed by me in their incessant search for juicy flowers. Then I talked to God.

I have conversations with God on a fairly regular basis; but a caveat: please, dear Reader, don’t see me as a Bible-thumping fundamentalist–I am very liberal in my spiritual views and although I do identify as Christian, I do not evangelize. This time, I was really emotional, crying out in the wilderness, and completely, spiritually naked. I said that I was tired of not allowing myself to be happy. I asked for permission to let that go, along with the main reason that I put myself through such torment: fear and insecurity. The events of the last three years–crises with my kid, the loss of our home, issues at work, illnesses in the family, financial challenges, and more–had conspired to turn me into a terrified, depressed, fatalistic pessimist who had lost all faith in the world around her, and worse, in herself.

I also cried out about Death, which I think is deep down the root of all my fears. If I have such limited time to learn, to figure so many things out, then I am not going to succeed, and if it all ends in death, then why bother to evolve at all? This was a crisis of faith in its purest form: if you’re going to end my existence, God, then why I am here at all? What’s the point? I made Him a promise: I am going to let go of my anxiety and my fear to the best of my ability, but please, help me to understand these things I have asked You. What happened after that was life changing, and I am going to be processing it for quite awhile.

As I walked home, I ‘heard’ a voice that asked me: do you remember who you were at 15? Think about your emotions then, the way you thought things through, your core personality, that girl in Spain who was absorbing her surroundings at light speed, that girl who first found God watching an image of the Virgin Mary surrounded in candles, flowers and gold. Is that girl gone? “No,” I said aloud, “she is me.” That person who is and has always been me is NOT SUBJECT TO TIME. Time passing has not changed Kirsten’s fundamental characteristics, personality, preoccupations, emotional identity or spiritual essence. All that has changed is her biology: she doesn’t look exactly the same. That’s the only difference.

That which is not subject to time is, therefore, not subject to death. Death cannot happen without the passage of time; the passage of time ‘kills’ organisms via entropy. Entropy cannot occur without the concept of moving forward in time. Consciousness is not a time or entropy affected concept or phenomena. The source of consciousness is outside of the physical organism that expresses it, just as radio waves exist outside of the radio itself, or television transmissions are not “in” the television set itself. What allows for the show to play is not the show itself. “Kirsten” is expressed at the moment in a physical body that changes and will pass away; but “Kirsten” is consciousness, emotion, spirit and soul–none of which are dependent on her body to continue to exist.

We have become so obsessed with the question of HOW this happens–how a conscious personality moves from one state to another, or one body to another, that we have missed the important point: WE DON’T DIE. By “we,” I mean our essential, defining characteristics, our ‘anima’, our consciousness, our essence, and our eternal selves, that which recognizes itself as a particular expression of the universe. Think for a moment: go back to a point in time and ask yourself WHO you were; is that person gone? Has he or she been obliterated by the passage of time? The core individual who recognizes him or herself as the same over time is not part of your body. Do you mourn the stray hair that washes down the drain? Do you cry over your loss of self when you cut your nails? Of course not, you say; but what about my brain? There are people with less than half a brain who function normally. But that’s not the point; your brain is filtering and expressing consciousness and is quite necessary in that process. It is not, however, producing it.

You have always been you and will always be you, whether you die once or a thousand times, whether you are born once or a thousand times. Your birth and your death do not make you who you are. They are physical transitions necessary for the version of you that is here now.

One would expect that this epiphany would bring instant relief, but it has not. If fact, the consequences are huge and daunting. If I can’t die, then I can’t ever stop existing, even is my existence is painful or emotionally difficult. There is no stopping the process or opting out when I’m sick of being in the world, or ‘being’ in general. This kicked off a kind of existential panic like I’ve never felt in my life. The cry in the wilderness was for the end of pain, which, if the answer had been different, would end at the very least with my death. The answer received, however, was of a very different nature. Since there is no end in sight, I have to handle the pain, the challenges, and the fears and the insecurities without the comfort of knowing that it will all vanish when I die.

So there is no choice. You have to progress, you have to work through all the dramas and traumas until you find peace. That could take more than this life, and probably will take a few more–God knows how many. Although is seems appealing to have another and another shot at life, there is also something deeply frightening about eternal life. You simply cannot choose to stop it and you cannot escape it. Last night, I was reading something dismal about global warming that said 80% of us will be dead by 2100 due to climate change. I told Ty that I was glad I would be dead by then and wouldn’t have to experience it. Then I remembered the lesson from earlier today: there is no way to escape life. You might very well be there to experience it. You might be one of the people that helps the planet recover, or you might have some other role in the global catastrophe. You don’t, however, get to skip out on a problem you helped to create.

I am so overwhelmed by knowing this. I wrote about this concept over the years, but it was always a plausible theory and not a lived reality. I connected in such a strong way with the universal intelligence that I was granted an answer to the most fundamental question. Living with that answer is the next, huge challenge. I will be ‘unpacking’ this insight for quite awhile, always hoping that anyone who reads this will share their own experience of asking a difficult question and receiving a transformative answer. If this particular question has also been answered for you, I hope that you will tell me about it in the comments section below.

With much love and respect,

Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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Maria marin

I was listening to “Maria Marin Live” (forgive the lack of accents; not sure how to add them here!) on AM 1020, as is my custom after my last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She pulls no punches and forces her callers to be direct, honest and sincere. Woe betide you if you can’t make your point or you’re full of B.S.; she will call you on it. I’m not sure how many of my readers listen to talk radio in Spanish, but I recommend you listen to what she has to say if you understand Spanish.

The topic of one of her recent shows concerned life after death, or more specifically, what her callers believe happens after death. There were those who had the quick answer, “you go to Heaven to be with God,” but when pressed on the details, became utterly incapable of providing any realistic descriptions or scenarios. Others, of course, said that nothing happens; and the majority stumbled around attempting to answer the question without the Heaven or the nothingness explanation, only to find themselves impaled on their own uncertainty. Ms. Marin did not provide them an easy out; she pressed them relentlessly to answer the question in a specific and meaningful way. When they couldn’t do it, she moved on to the next person.

I found myself in something of a panic, imagining that I was one of her callers and I had been pressured into answering the question. Even though this topic is my area of research and interest, there is NO WAY to spit out a quick answer to the question, ‘what happens after you die’. I realize that those who have had a near death experience might be able to answer this with the typical imagery: the tunnel, the white light, meeting relatives who have passed on, the life review, the inability to cross a certain boundary between life and death, and the final (usually unwanted) return to the body. However, this describes a transitional state between life in the flesh and the life of consciousness, not what happens after actual, physical death.

No one can answer definitively, since no one has died 100% in the flesh and returned to talk about it except Jesus, and well, there are some issues there, as well. My experience tells me that while there is no quick answer to the question, there is–at least–a concept that we can hold onto when forced to answer questions about life after death. In terms of scientific research, nowhere is there better evidence for the continuation of life than in the work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson from the University of Virginia. His work on the past lives of children from around the world is legendary; I’ve discussed it extensively in other blog posts. What his work points to is that ‘life’ after ‘death’ is about the transference of consciousness from one body to another.

The best evidence points to the indestructibility of the conscious mind, spirit or soul (I do not think that these terms are interchangeable, but the differences between them are the subject of another post). It doesn’t disappear, but finds another body through which it expresses a self. How this happens is pure speculation, but it must happen at some point in fetal development. I remember my sister telling me–and she is nothing if not a skeptic–that she felt the precise moment when a spirit ‘jumped into’ my nephew while in the womb. He was pure potential and suddenly became a personality. This personality was, in his case, external to him and perhaps had nothing to do with our family and genetics at all.

Consciousness finds a way to continue, whether it be through reincarnation or through some other mechanism, such as inhabiting another dimension or alternate universe as posited by some quantum theories. One of these alternate dimensions of reality might look and feel much like the Heaven that the faithful expect to experience. Many Eastern religions posit the twin existence of soul and spirit, each living out separate existences as the same personality: the “spirit” continues to reincarnate with limited or absent memories of the previous existence, and the “soul” inhabits a timeless dimension where the expected rewards and/or punishments are experienced as expected. Some quantum theories posit that there are infinite versions of us in infinite universes, so that when one of us dies in one world, we simply skip over to another and pick up our lives there, either in the ‘present’ moment or a past or future moment.

It doesn’t work to think of time as important to consciousness after death, since it is a biological concept useful to understand what we perceive as forward movement towards a goal, but it is not an independent entity necessary to understand reality (at least as far physics is concerned–time could just as easily move backwards as forwards, and we only need the ‘arrow of time’ for formulas concerning entropy, which some physicists think doesn’t exist as an independent measure of anything, anyway). You can see why, by now, there is no way to answer Maria Marin’s challenge in a one-minute phone call. When you are discussing issues concerning consciousness–that great mystery–it doesn’t make sense to explain exactly what will happen, since that requires us to know exactly how our minds will perceive reality when we are no longer dependent on a brain or a body to filter and limit our experiences.

Since Ms. Marin requires total honesty, I will say this: I am afraid that the best evidence points to a recycling of consciousness that does not involve karma, reward, Heaven or eternal rest. It seems that our personalities are transferred to another human being, and we drag our baggage along into another life–whether in the form of unconscious trauma or conscious memories. I do think there is room for spiritual evolution from life to life, but that is not the same concept as karma or reward. Our suffering in one life might purify us and lead us closer to God, but it certainly doesn’t mean our next lives will be easy, fun, interesting or rewarding. The most spiritually evolved person might appear to have the worst material circumstances.

For what it’s worth, that’s my answer to Ms. Marin, if I had called in. We come back, again and again, working towards a nobler, more refined relationship with God. What that looks like for each individual is unknown. So, I take my last breath, I might have a transitional period where I’m in the Light and meet up with those long gone, and then I probably black out or go to sleep and wake up screaming, inhaling that first breath again, remembering or not that I was here before, and here I go again.

Yours on the journey,

Kitty Soul bank Post

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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