Doctor Sam Parnia, currently head of the Reanimation Department at the Stony Brook University Hospital, New York is quite categorical when states “Death is a process, and it could be reversible!”
Sam declares “We have proof that human consciousness does not end at death, in fact it continues, ..we remain in a state of hibernation that cannot be perceived externally- Brain cells remain alive for at least eight hours without oxygen. If doctors could learn to manipulate the cellular process, and slow down the rate at which cells actually die, they could work on resolving the problem that caused death in the first place. Of course this could not be possible if someone was dying of a tumour.”
His latest book Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries between Life and Death Dr Parnia points out that fifty or so years ago death was indeed irreversible. However, the latest resuscitation techniques sometimes bring people back to life and more advanced technology is in the pipeline.
Doctor Sam Parnia is talking sense. after all his job is to drag folks back from the brink with the latest high tech resuscitation techniques, in fact Dr Sam Parnia is determined to understand whether the soul really exists, whether it is created by the brain or whether the brain is its catalyst.
In his book Sam writes about the case of Jo Tiralosi. When he arrived in the Emergency Unit Jo’s heart had stopped beating. Medics immediately began the CPR process and lowered Jo’s body temperature so that they could operate on his blocked artery. After forty minutes in total cardiac arrest Jo was reanimated. Later, in recovery he started to talk about an experience that had deeply touched him. He said whilst “dying” he was taken to a place full of love and compassion, a place where he experienced a sense of deep serenity. Not only did the experience inspire him, but it helped him recuperate from the heart attack.
Dr Parnia says that people’s cultural conditioning affects what they see on “the other side”. For example a Hindu will describe Krishna, a Christian Jesus; an atheist might describe a light being. But they are all seeing the same thing explained in different ways. In fact, death is a universal experience common to all human beings that is why we need not fear it.
Dr Parnia’s take is spiritual, profound, perhaps a result of the detailed NDE accounts he has studied. The question remains do NDE’s occur whilst people are totally without brain activity or when they awaken to normal consciousness?
One of the more metaphysical elements of the Near Death Experience is when patients become aware of their surroundings whilst they are supposedly “dead” They talk of floating down hospital corridors and listening in on their relatives desperate conversations in waiting rooms, or even returning to their homes miles away and watching relatives or friends who cannot see them. They sometimes see themselves suspended on the ceiling looking down on their own bodies on the operating table. On awakening they can repeat medics’ conversations, even describe the surgical instruments used. Doctor Parnia concludes that there is something in the human brain that we have not yet discovered, and it has to do with consciousness and how the human brain “channels” it.
So what is the soul? Science concludes that it is a cellular process, but there is no evidence to show that cells conduct human thought, even though Dr Parnia tells us there is evidence to prove there is a connection between certain brain areas and both physical and mental processes.
Perhaps the human psyche connects to a subtle force that inter relates with the brain, but is not necessarily a product of it. More research is needed in this area, and as Parnia states, science needs to acknowledge its own limitations.
The neuro surgeon Eben Alexander also known worldwide for his near death experience, is no hair brain, he taught in the prestigious Harvard medical school and was extremely sceptical when it came to Near Death Experiences. He opened his mind to the possibility of eternal life after his own brush with death. He has been highly criticised by his colleagues for his opinions, but still maintains that what he experienced on the other side was beyond anything he had experienced before, and now he is convinced life continues well into eternity.
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