AwareofAware

Evolving news on the science, writing and thinking about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Premature Publication

In my impatience with the progress of the AWARE studies, my frustration at the lack of clarification from Sam Parnia about the auditory reports he presented in November 2019, and my eagerness to get my “message” out there to coincide with the “Surviving Death” series, I hit the publish button on my book too soon. Having reread it again, the book relies on more convincing data from the AWARE studies to really stand on its own, so I have unpublished it.

What did frustrate me a little was some communication I received on the issue of my bringing “God” into the discussion, and how it reduced my credibility. I go with the evidence, and NDE reports include encounters with a supreme Being Of Light that many describe as God. That is a fact, and to ignore it is to ignore evidence on one of the most important questions man has.

I am going to be true to my word and go with the evidence now. To date the AWARE studies have failed to provide proper scientific validation of OBEs, and until they do my book will go back on ice.

My book on NDEs and the AWARE studies

I have finally finished my new book. It has been through a few rounds of editing with professionals and I am happy with it but would love to have your opinions so that I can improve it still further. I uploaded it on Amazon today. The Kindle version is available now globally. The paperback is available in the US now but might take a day or so to appear in other markets. Other eBook store versions will appear over the weekend in new posts. I have currently priced it as cheap as possible for a week or two specifically so that any who comes to this site regularly might buy a copy before I add a few dollars so I can hopefully start recouping some of the costs.

If you have enjoyed my posts over the years, then I think you will enjoy it.

A few points:

  1. If you buy it, thank you. Please provide feedback in one of two ways:
    • If you like it, then please please write a review on the amazon website and give it lots of stars!
    • If you don’t like it, I would be grateful that rather than slating it on the sales page for the book which will pretty much kill it, and be somewhat frustrating after all the work I have put in, please provide honest feedback to me via a PM on here, and I will see if it is something that I can address. I will be taking all feedback and doing a final version in February, so constructive criticism is very welcome, and if there are any inaccuracies, please let me know.
  2. While I do discuss “God” or the Being Of Light, this book is completely ecumenical. I have stripped out any references or preferences to specific religions except for a short passage for fellow Christians in the appendix.
  3. If you do enjoy it then please recommend it to friends and family. The paperback should be ready soon and while for the next week it will only be available on Amazon, I will be widening availability to all on line bookstores within a couple of weeks and posting on here when that process is complete.
  4. I’ve realised one thing I will be changing, and that is in the acknowledgements. There have been some really helpful contributions from people on this site, so I will include something on that in the opening.

Surviving Death – thoughts

So today saw the arrival of the new Netflix series, Surviving Death. I was able to have a good look at it and here are my thoughts on the entire series…yes, I know it is only 9.30am UK time, 1 hour 30 minutes after it was launched, but believe me, I have seen enough to form an opinion.

Episode 1 was on NDEs. It was pretty good. There was Bruce Greyson, Peter Fenwick, some material from the Pam Reynolds NDE among other good stuff. It certainly presented the subject in a reasonable and credible way, and if that was the first time someone came across NDEs, it would certainly make them think. However, there was nothing on any of the clinical studies looking into it. No mention of Sam Parnia’s work (if he was asked to be involved, he was wise to decline). A small mention of the arguments around drugs or hypoxia, but nothing that would float our boats. In truth, there was absolutely nothing new on NDEs. Nada, but it was a good show.

Episodes 2-4- I looked at the episode descriptions and they were all on paranormal experiences around mediumship etc. I skimmed through the shows and didn’t see anything that would interest me. If anything, unfortunately, many will find it off-putting. I have a very specific viewpoint on the subject, and it comes firstly from my experience of growing up with a medium in the family…so I know it is real, and secondly from my Christian perspective, and some experiences that I have had that make me feel it is something that we should avoid like the plague. Now, I am aware there are some who cannot avoid it since it comes to them, but I still prefer to steer clear of it.

Final Episode was on reincarnation. Again, interesting, and there is evidence to support it, but it doesn’t interest me sufficiently to watch an hour of it. This is the life we are living, we should make the most of it and live in the way we are supposed to. Simple stuff really.

Anyway, other than the first episode, I wouldn’t really recommend the series to anyone who is serious about the subject of NDEs. What it has done though is get my thumb out of my exterior and caused me to finish off the book I have been writing on NDEs over the Christmas period. The cover is now on the front page of this site, and it will be available in the next day or so as I make a few last minute changes.

Data from Parnia Lab at AHA Nov 2020

Last year Sam Parnia presented the first data to come out of AWARE II with the suggestion that validated auditory OBEs had been recorded. I was hoping that we would see something that expanded on that initial report this year, but so far the only data that has been registered from NYU with his name on it is abstract 314 “Cardiac Arrest Related Cognitive Activity” By Tara Shirazi and Sam Parnia, which will be presented this Friday.

I found it through downloading the AHA conference app and searching for him, and the link the app spits out doesn’t work, when I find one that does work I will add it here (now below). The abstract is interesting though nothing groundbreaking. It is a retrospective analysis of patient reports of consciousness after Cardiac Arrest. These were held in a registry of CA survivors. There were 118 reports of consciousness (out of how many we are not told although the numbers 10-20% are mentioned at the beginning), and the reports were analyzed and various themes identified. The usual NDE motifs cropped up – like tunnel and life-review. OBEs were reported in 40% of the cases, which is higher than the previous reports of 25% of NDEs having OBEs. Maybe because this was a situation of patients self-reporting outside of an observational study, they only felt the need to do this if the experience was particularly notable, and having an OBE would definitely make it notable.

It is possible that there will be a late breaking presentation by Sam Parnia, but at the moment it doesn’t look as though AHA 2020 is going to give us anything new on the NDE front.

https://eventpilotadmin.com/web/page.php?page=IntHtml&project=AHA20&id=ress27

More data from AWARE II(maybe), news on AWARE III and my book.

It’s been a while, so I thought I should post some thoughts and updates. In terms of the latter, this has been a very quiet year, not just from Sam Parnia, but in general on the subject of NDEs. Of course everything has been overshadowed by COVID. Most conventions or scientific meetings have either been cancelled or held virtually.

I recently attended a virtual European convention on sleep science, and it was an illuminating experience. In some ways it was better – no airport security queues, or late night rides in a smelly taxi to soulless hotels where I would be away from my family for days on end. I found I was able to interact with other researchers quite well when they were presenting data, and I was able to look at the things I was interested in at my leisure – while wearing very casual attire. However, in general it was vastly inferior to an in person convention, and while my job was already one that was done partly from home, and in future things will be a hybrid, I cannot wait till I am able to get back into the hospitals and universities to meet with physicians and scientific researchers face to face.

As a result of this year, many of the meetings where someone like Dr Parnia would present have not occurred in the normal way, and when you google him, or the AWARE study, most of the links come from previous years. The truly awful Daily Express seems to create recent links to a rehashed story on Dr Parnia explaining NDEs in terms of something that can be explained by physiological means, but I have never heard him say that in a meeting or in a written article. However, he did just publish a paper exploring the link between cerebral oxygen levels and neurological outcomes after Cardiac Arrest (CA). The abstract published in last month’s Resuscitation does not hint at any data on consciousness, so I am going to withhold my $36 to buy the full text, although if we continue to experience this NDE news drought, I may well go ahead and buy it! There was data he presented at AHA last year that did seem to hint at a possible link between conscious brain activity during CA and oxygen levels, so I suspect this new data may have come from his AWARE research group – hence the teaser of data from AWARE II in the title! (I know, somewhat tenuous, but these are desperate times for an NDE research blogger!). The link is here:

The association between post-cardiac arrest cerebral oxygenation and survival with favorable neurological outcomes: A multicenter study

So other than this, we have been left with Sam Parnia’s very quiet Twitter feed and the Parnia lab website which has been updated as the year has gone by. The most significant thing to come out of that has been the announcement of the commencement of the study on awareness during deep hypothermic circulatory arrest. This is in essence the COOL study mark II.

The COOL study was set up in Montreal at the beginning of the last decade and designed to investigate reports of NDEs and OBEs during deep hypothermic cardio circulatory arrest. Out of 33 returned questionnaires, 3 reported conscious mental activity (very much in line with the 10% reported from CA NDEs) one veridical OBE report was made from this study in which a young pregnant woman reported seeing various instruments that were behind her head, and was later verified by hospital staff (VOLUME 83, ISSUE 1, E19 2012. Conscious mental activity during a deep hypothermic cardio circulatory arrest? Mario Beauregard). The study was retrospective and did not have the kinds of experiments built into it that could prove an OBE. This is where Dr Parnia’s study is different since it is prospective and uses the same equipment that is used in the AWARE II study. I am dubbing this new study the AWARE III study, since it falls under the same AWARE research umbrella. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this study has a lot more chance of eventually getting “a hit” than AWARE II due to the controlled conditions (vs a random CA in an ER unit), prior patient awareness of the presence of the iPad and most importantly, the chance of surviving long enough to be interviewed. Dr Parnia tweeted that the first patient had been recruited in July of this year.

For a while there was a bit of confusion over whether AWARE II had wrapped up, partly due to one of the research portals saying recruitment had closed. However, on the Parnia Lab website it states that recruitment is still ongoing, and indeed they are looking to expand the number of research centers over the next two years.

So one day we will hear more from AWARE II or III. It may not be till next year now due to all the delays in everyone’s lives, especially someone like Dr Parnia who would have been in the thick of things earlier this year (although if he is anything like ICU and ER physicians I know in the UK, he will have had the quietest summer of his career!).

In the meantime, I have been focusing on my work in Neuroscience and on writing books. My non-fiction book on NDEs is now complete and has been copy edited. I will be publishing it imminently, maybe through extracts on here first. I have also found myself in the fortunate position of having 7 weeks gardening leave as I switch from one Biotech Neuroscience medical scientist role to another, and I have decided to devote this time to rewriting my second novel, which is based on a more outlandish extrapolation of NDE possibilities (think of Flatliners on steroids and you will be getting close). An idea along these lines has been knocking around my hard drive in various forms for over 20 years now, so it’ll be good to finally finish it!

Anyway, I continue to browse the web and pubmed a couple of times a week for news on Sam Parnia and NDEs, and I know others who come here do the same, so please get in touch with me if you see something. Rest assured, when things finally do get interesting again…which I have no doubt they will, I will be here starting a discussion on it!.

AWARE III, IV, V…I’ve lost count.

On July 13th one of the readers of this blog will be having an operation in which their heart is temporarily stopped before surgery is conducted. This reader has asked me to suggest how she might think in advance how, in the event she has an OBE, she could prove the OBE.

Firstly, I’m sure all the readers of this blog will join me in wishing her a successful outcome of this operation and a speedy recovery.

Secondly, it should be noted that most people who “die” whether it be due to a natural CA or a medically induced CA, do not have OBEs. Maybe as low as 3% of people recall being able to observe their bodies or the room they are lying in. Therefore it is very unlikely that the sole subject of AWARE X will have anything to report. However, in the event that she does have an OBE, please could the regulars think of some way she could devise to prove it if its occurs.

My “starter for ten” is that she would need to collaborate with the surgical team and ask them to put some object in the room after she is unconscious. If the surgeon is skeptical of these kinds of reports he may not be interested, but if he has had previous patients report such experiences, he may be willing to take part.

Comments very welcome please!

New Era For Parnia?

Thanks to Z for picking up on the new website for the “Parnia Lab”. The old link to his research projects had become a very bland summary of the medical aspects of his research, and I couldn’t find the new one…Z to the rescue again! Dr Parnia obviously has a lot of clout at NYU to have a lab named after himself before he retires, gets a chair or dies! Fair play to him, he deserves it. He is a true pioneer. It may also be something to do with the research grants his work attracts (that’s how it usually works).

Link to Parnia Lab website

The site is very slick, and well worth a visit. The site’s primary focus is on the important research that his group are conducting in resuscitation medicine, and it is clear that he is establishing himself as world leader in this area due to his focus on prolonging the viability of brain cells during CA so that when patients achieve ROSC, they won’t be impaired.

His discussions of NDEs are little more scientific and somewhat less philosophical in their tone, but nonetheless he does say this:

However, in a true cardiac arrest, when there is no heartbeat, even with CPR there is insufficient blood flow to the brain (around 20 percent) to meet the needs of brain cells. Consequently, seconds after cardiac arrest, brain function ceases as evidenced by brain stem reflexes and electrical activity in the brain. People also immediately lose any visible signs of consciousness and are deemed unconscious by all available clinical assessments.

However, cognitive activity and conscious awareness have been reported by 10 to 20 percent of people from the period of true cardiac arrest. Studies of cardiac arrest survivors’ experiences of awareness during a time when the brain is not functioning support the idea that—as with many other conditions that biologically mimic death, such as deep hypothermic circulatory arrest—even when people lose conscious awareness of the outside world and do not feel pain or discomfort, the entity of the human consciousness and mind may not become immediately annihilated once the heartbeat ceases.

The first paragraph does somewhat contradict the findings that he presented in his own poster presented at AHA last Fall in which it was suggested that they had recorded sufficient brain activity during CPR to potentially support conscious activity. This has been disputed by others here due to the type of brain waves, but the poster is quite explicit in stating this possibility.

He also mentions on the homepage how their new discoveries are providing insights into understanding the nature of consciousness that bridges the gap between science and philosophy (thanks for pointing this out Clay). The tone of this site is definitely more focused on the medical science than consciousness side of things. This can only help further establish his credentials as a serious scientist.

Anyway, it is good that he has own website now, and hopefully we will see more in the way of frequent updates. No doubt Z or someone else will get there first!

AWARE II is not powered to validate an OBE

I am currently revising a chapter in my book on NDEs, and having reviewed some of the videos of Sam Parnia and the various presentations he has given, and the posters from AHA, I have come to conclusion that the AWARE II study is not powered to validate a visual OBE. Moreover, despite some enthusiasm over the patients in the AHA poster, I am not convinced that they are validated auditory OBEs. However, I am of the view that something has either already occurred or will occur, from this study, or another study, that will provide new evidence.

To my first point, and the title of this post. In autumn 2017 Dr. Parnia presented a slide showing current status of the study. In it he said that 300 patients had been included. This caused us considerable excitement as it suggested that he would have had a few hits if he had only included subjects in the way that I suggested on here after AWARE I. I realize now that this is not the case. This is the update from may 2019:

half Money slide

In the year since his March 2018 update there had been just under another 100 patients recruited. The target number  is 1500. They have increased the number of sites over 2019 and were aiming to complete recruitment by the end of this year, but with COVID, their attention for the next few months will be rightly on other things. These guys will be at the frontline, putting themselves at risk every day, and will have other things on their mind than AWARE II. However, it really doesn’t matter whether the results come this year, or five years from now, as I think it is quite unlikely now that we will see a validated visual OBE. Auditory OBEs I am not sure of, and will get onto in a moment.

So if you look at the flow chart you can see why I might be concerned that this study is not sufficiently powered to generate scientifically confirmed visual OBEs. Patients are included in the study if they have a CA and the crash cart with the kit arrives before resuscitation occurs. As Parnia has said, this in itself has proved a rate limiting step for the AWARE team due to lack of research staff, and the fact that many of the patients come round before the special cart arrives. However, and this was my aha moment as i was reviewing all the bits and pieces related to this, this is still the main inclusion criteria. Patients are still included in the study if they die before being interviewed, which was the reason why AWARE I did not produce any hits (as well as the targets being in a few specific locations).

In the AHA analysis presented in November 2019, the dataset used in the slide above was the one used as it had all the same numbers, with the exception of the number of patients interviewed, which was 22, although only 19 were counted for the data analysis. Going back to NDE stats, only 10% of CA survivors have NDEs, of these 25% have visual OBEs. If everyone who had an OBE saw the image on the ipad, then the chances of a visual OBE hit would be roughly 50% – 19X2.5%. Of course, we have often said that the chances of someone actually observing the image would be quite low, despite the position of the ipad, probably less than 50%. Therefore if you had 100 interviews from CA survivors you might get 1 or 2 visual OBEs (2.5/2).

Since Dr Parnia said they were intending to recruit 1500 patients, and in the May 2019 data they were a third of the way there, then going by their current rate, they will have about 150 survivors, and 60 interviews. In my view you would be very fortunate to get even one visual OBE from 60 interviews considering only 6 of those would have had NDEs, maybe 2 OBEs if you are lucky, and if you were super lucky one who saw the image. This of course would not be enough to convince even the most moderate skeptic.

When the number 1500 was originally announced, I assumed this would be 1500 who survived to be interviewed, other wise what is the point of including them in the study? With 1500 you could expect 150 NDEs and possibly upwards of 5-10 validated visual OBEs. Now I am seeing that actually the true objective of the study is possibly to look at EEG and oxymetry and determine what effects CPR have on this and the potential for Awareness. I wish I had a laptop made out of chocolate…I said I would eat my laptop if AWARE II didn’t get a hit based on the understanding that only patients who had been interviewed would be included.

To my second point, the auditory OBEs. Looking at the presentation in 2017, and picking up on other things that have been said, we only know that sounds were “timed”. Also, we don’t know if headphones were put in both ears. My feeling is that timed means they may have been playing intermittent sounds, and if that is the case, then they would have been able to hear the conversations in the room if they had sufficient oxygen to produce some consciousness. This last point relates to the second AHA poster in which it was postulated that in some patients CPR produced enough circulating oxygenated blood to produce EEG activity that might support consciousness. What has never been discussed by Dr Parnia, despite repeated requests for clarification, is exactly what is going with the sounds (i.e. would it have been possible for the patients to hear conversations or not) and whether there was any overlap between the 2 sets of subjects in the two AHA posters, and therefore the ability to correlate, or not, the ability to make auditory observations and the potential for consciousness.

It is very frustrating that these questions have never been cleared up. I have approached all the names on the posters, and I know that a couple sniffed around my LinkedIn profile, but no one has ever responded. I posed these questions at the November meeting, and they were ignored. As I have said, it is one thing being patient about the progress of the study given the restraints they operate under, but another to know that a burning question could be answered with currently available data. It begs the question why not? I have some thoughts on this, but won’t go into them here.

At the end of the day it may all be irrelevant though. As we have said countless times, Dr Parnia has stated unequivocally on numerous TV shows in recent years that the consciousness persists beyond death for at least a short while. He doesn’t say that we have evidence that it does, he just states it as fact, which makes me think he does have some evidence in his pocket. Also, I think that AWARE II may become irrelevant. The DHCA study, which is under controlled conditions, and possibly with prior consent from the patients, may be the one to watch, and may yield results much more efficiently, and therefore quickly than the AWARE II study…depending on how many of these procedures occur a week, and how many of the patients consent. They may even be told to look at the ipad! So if you had 3 of these procedures a week, and 60% consented to be involved, you would have 100 subjects in a year, which should yield 2-3 visual OBE hits.

Anyway, this may not be news to some here, and maybe I am a bit slow, but the penny only really dropped recently about the powering. Lastly , please be civil in the discussions…

Life has a case fatality rate of 100%

I received an email from Eduardo last week in which he echoed something that I had been thinking during this coronavirus nightmare which everyone has suddenly been engulfed by. He said that if Sam Parnia has any “informative” data beyond what he presented at AHA last fall, then now would be the morally right time to share it. The rationale for this is that many people are scared to death of this virus, and in fear of their, or their loved ones, lives, and that having more evidence that our souls, or consciousness, survive death would provide enormous comfort for millions.

I completely agree. My own personal faith, which arises from a number of things including a certainty that life was not due to a spontaneous natural process (as discussed in my book, DNA: The Elephant In The Lab), and my knowledge of NDEs, helps me put the 0.5-4% risk of dying from this bug in perspective. So too does the simple fact stated in the title of this topic. Whether you die a lonely “premature” death gasping for breath in a crowded field hospital in the next 2 months, or whether it is in your 90s gently slipping away surrounded by your children and grandchildren…you will die…and if there’s something “eternal” beyond, then that puts death at any time in its place.

In my book, Aware of Aware which I self-published in 2013, and which this blog is named after, I discuss this in detail and how knowledge of NDEs can help us in many ways in this life. (By the way, don’t buy the book, it is terrible, I am in the process of writing a new one). Here is an excerpt from very near the end:

 

“I know other scary things much closer to home. I work on treatments for HIV. I know that there is the potential for a virus to appear that could eliminate mankind. I haven’t even mentioned nuclear weapons or asteroids. Anyway, you see where I’m going. The human race could end tomorrow. For many people, and it could be you, life will end tomorrow anyway. Maybe the Being Of Light wants to give those of us left, a last ditch chance to get our spiritual house in order.”

 

I was going to delay the publication of my revised and hopefully much improved book on the evidence around NDEs until the AWARE study had indisputable proof of verified OBEs, but I have decided to go full steam ahead now. My reasoning for this change of plan is partly due to what I just said, namely that I believe it is important that people should be thinking about these things today. I hope that the perspective I have gained from following this subject for years provides insights that may benefit the lives of others now…and for some that may be important. The other reason is related to the whole chloroquine issue.

Now, I am not going to get into too much detail here, and definitely don’t want to enter a debate or discussion about it. The reason I bring it up is due to the reasoning process which is related to the NDE subject, as you will see.

Given there a number of different studies, albeit small non-randomized single cohort studies, combined with very positive in vitro data, and an announcement that the Chinese found Chloroquine to be significantly better in reducing symptoms and presence of virus than standard of care in 100 patients vs controls, and that as a result they would include it in their COVID-19 treatment guidelines, I am inclined to be more optimistic than pessimistic about the prospects that this drug holds. For those who don’t know, I have a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the 1990s in which I designed anti-viral drugs. I also spent a significant chunk of my career in virology and anti-infectives, so I have seen new treatments emerge over the years for various conditions, and sometimes the early signals showing promise for new indications of existing medications take a similar path to the one we are witnessing with chloroquine. Also, in such circumstances, as you do now, you see the research and medical community divided equally.

Some are early adopters and see the potential and run with it, especially when there are no other options. They would even feel that they would be negligent if they didn’t. Others need data from large randomized double blinded multi-center studies before they will risk a new treatment on their patients. There is no absolute right or wrong in this until we know for sure. It may well be that chloroquine doesn’t work, but if I was a doctor, I would be prescribing this for my patients given what data we have, the lack of alternatives, and the good understanding we have of its safety profile. What is there to lose by doing it, provided the side effects are understood? (I strongly advise against self-medicating chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 – used at the wrong dose can result in serious, and even fatal side effects. All use should be under the guidance of a qualified health care professional)

With NDEs we are now in a similar situation I believe. We have thousands of accounts of NDEs and OBEs from credible people, many of which have been verified by equally credible health care professionals. We also have a number of peer reviewed studies looking at retrospective accounts. We also have a small number of prospective studies (3 now I believe) in which OBEs were verified by health care professionals in the study. For the “early adopters”, like myself, this is enough. What have you got to lose by believing this stuff? You will live life without fear etc and actually be excited at the prospect of what lies ahead. Refusal to believe may have negative impacts on your spirituality though.

AWARE II has always promised to be the study that tips the balance of evidence. If it had any scientifically verified OBEs, either auditory or visual, then it really becomes irrational to remain skeptical when combined with all the other evidence, just like if another respected doctor comes forward with even better cohort data in the next week or two about chloroquine. This would be important for many people.

I believe that the AHA data does contain scientifically verified auditory OBEs in which patients who couldn’t possibly have heard what was going on in the room because they had headphones playing music AND had no EEG/oximetry data to support the presence of consciousness, did hear documented discussions. However, despite multiple requests from myself and others for clarification on this issue, Dr Parnia had not responded with answers that he surely must have.

I have enormous respect for Dr Parnia…huge huge respect. I have sent him yet another message, via the research portal this time, asking for some clarification on this, and whether there are any other cases of interest. I know that at this time he will be overwhelmed with work in New York City, very very important work, but I believe that it is actually more important for humanity that if he is sitting on any significant data that he shares it sooner rather than later. I know he asked us to be patient, but there are limits.

Anyway, whether or not he responds to my plea for clarification on the AHA data, I will be pushing ahead with my book, and my next post will contain a link to a chapter that I would love people here to read and help me refine. Probably late April or early May

 

 

Just an illusion

My training in Chemistry has long since given me a view on matter that shatters most people’s perception of reality. When you look around, you are fooled into believing you are seeing solid objects, but in reality you are not. “Solidity” is an illusion created by the absorption of light by electrons orbiting atomic nuclei.

The truth is that electrons, and nuclei take up tiny amounts of space, but due to the nature of quantum mechanics and the speed of movement of sub-atomic particles, they create the appearance of solidity. Moreover, due to electrostatic repulsion when objects come into close proximity, they “feel” solid. However, if all movement of electrons were stopped, and you were able to bring all sub atomic particles into immediate juxtaposition, objects like trees, even buildings would be invisible to the naked eye. To exemplify this point it has been estimated that if you were to bring all the sub atomic particles that comprise the entire human race together it would be about the size of a sugar cube. (Link)

Currently, I have a very poor understanding of quantum mechanics, something that I wish to address over the coming years as I feel it is important for gaining deeper insight into this whole subject area, but from what I do understand, and from facts like the sugar cube and that the entire universe originated from an impossibly small pin prick of light, I sometimes feel nervous about the nature of “reality”. In fact, I wonder if it is in fact just a gigantic illusion. I know others believe the same.

So how does that fit into the subject of NDEs? When I read about NDEs, people often describe their experiences of the other side as feeling more real than “real life”. Others refer to this life as a place of learning to prepare us for the next life. When you combine those subjective observations with the understanding of matter I just described, then it does indeed make more than just a bit of sense to understand the physical universe as being just illusory, and that our brains are the quantum processing machines allowing our consciousness to interface with this “illusion”. Now the fact we experience this illusion through our consciousness lends it a reality that it may not otherwise have had. This is not unrelated to the notion in quantum mechanics that a quantum state is not real until it is observed (I am probably saying that incorrectly).

Anyway, before I end up disappearing into a philosophical rabbit hole of ever decreasing circles, I just want to conclude with another concern that I have. Let’s say that this view of things is somewhat correct, namely that this life is illusory in nature and that the life after is “real”. How do we know that life is actually “real” and not just another level of a wider illusion in which we move.

Finally, I invite those who are better informed than I am on this particular area to comment on how this may or may not relate to Penrose and Hameroff’s theory about micro tubules within neurons being sites of quantum processing, and that this forms the basis of consciousness. I apologise in advance for not following up on comments immediately as I am travelling for the next couple of weeks.

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