Reflections Part VII.
Laura Geraghty’s story is one that’s been widely recognised, and as a consequence she’s become known as the walking 57 minute miracle - 57 being the number of minutes she was without any flow of blood, blood pressure, oxygen, in fact any sign of life in her body whatsoever.
“I floated right out of my body”, she claims, “my body was here, and I just floated away. I looked back at it once, and it was there”.
She speaks of seeing loved ones, her mother and her ex-husband.
"It was very peaceful and light and beautiful. And I remember like, when you see someone you haven't seen in a while, you want to hug them, and I remember trying to reach out to my ex-husband, and he would not take my hand. And then they floated away."
Next, she says, she was overwhelmed by "massive energy, powerful, very powerful energy."
"When that was happening, there were pictures of my son and my daughter and my granddaughter, and every second, their pictures flashed in my mind, and then I came back."
Such graphic, lucid descriptions are not at all uncommon, and a considerable number of similar cases are presented in the book, “The Truth In The Light”, by authors, Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick.
One aspect that appears most significant is the similarity of experience that runs like a common thread through most of these cases: the tunnel; the light; the relatives, and so on.
And the dichotomy–or what some might see as a clear contradiction–with regards to the scientific reasoning put forward is that apart from the possible physical causes offered to explain away the “tunnel” and “light” scenarios, on the whole these experiences are dismissed as dreams.
Yet when would we ever, collectively be able to report such distinctive similarities in our dreams, and especially with the crystal clear presence and lucidity those with NDEs come back to report?
The common dream experience tends to be quite random and nothing like as organised as these.
It’s natural, particularly in the current mechanistic and science-oriented culture we live in and are accustomed to, that a desire for proof of a quantifiable nature is required before accepting anything as credible.
But the dogma of modern day mechanism would have us discounting much about someone else's subjective experience, as opposed to what we can identify as physical evidence.
Authors Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick, in “The Truth In The Light”, eloquently describe the difficulty of comprehending the subjective experiences of others when they can’t be cross-referenced with one’s own experience. Although their book focuses on the syndrome of NDEs and OBEs (out-of-body experiences) it nevertheless addresses the wider challenge.
"So it follows that when we talk about the subjective experience of NDE, we cannot and should not use only the ordinary scientific method to validate it.
We give labels of true or false to a subjective experience according to whether or not we happen to share it. The best analogy I can give is falling in love. It can be described quite well in physiological and psychological terms. Your heart and breathing rate increase when the telephone rings or the mail arrives. Your stomach lurches and your palms sweat at the sight of the loved one in the far distance.
Your perception of this perfectly ordinary, maybe even rather plain, person is quite different from that of someone who doesn’t happen to be in love with him or her. Like an NDE, being in love can have a lasting effect and change your life. It can change your behaviour, make you give up (sometimes for quite lengthy periods) biting your nails or humming under your breath or staying too long in the bath or the pub.
It can even make you, for a while, a nicer person - so much nicer that those around you notice it and say, ‘Aaahhh, he must be in love.’ The presence of the lover is a source of bliss, his loss a cause of devastation. No on can doubt that being in love has meaning and value to the people involved."
The book goes on to say that we can only truly understand this if we have been in love ourselves, and because most of us have experienced what that’s like, though it’s not measurable it is nevertheless held to be a "true" experience.
"Likewise, if it had never happened to you it would be difficult if not impossible to comprehend the obsessive behaviour of the lover, and his attachment of special significance to some other quite undistinguished human being in an apparently random fashion. You wouldn’t really be able to ‘believe’ in it, and you may even think that those involved were completely crazy."
The truth is, of course, that both the conceptual and the actual belong together, they are two sides of the same coin.
Our western view differs significantly with some of the planet’s more traditional cultures that have always valued the world of dreams, myth and legend - and we may argue that they do so at the detriment of technological progress, a view based on our need to perceive ourselves as “forward moving”, something we see possible only with technological development.
So much of our world depends greatly on the subjective realms of imagination and inspiration, both of which the methods of modern science cannot measure.
They not only provide a driving force in the area of artistic creativity, but also they “idea” many achievements of a technical and scientific nature. Nevertheless, we can tend to undervalue the importance of these essential components of a process that the resultant actualisation is completely dependant upon.
In other words, we put most of our eggs in the “doing” basket, with much less recognition of what gets us there.
As it’s not “physical” we tend to think that the theatre of imagination is not real - and that “real” equals physical.
Given that scenario, I have experienced what I’d describe as “waking up” in dreams during sleep, and that I’ve examined and scrutinised my existence in that dream as though it was no different from day to day physical reality.
I’ve looked at and felt at my hands; observed those around me; all in an attempt to prove to myself that I am actually there, and as far as I’m concerned, at that moment I was there as much as, at this moment I am here now. Is it correct to say that one state is imagined and the other isn’t?
Though modern science can only theorise on the subject of consciousness, the generally held belief is that it is generated by the physical brain.
There are, however a great many people out there–even those who work in the realm of science and medicine–who argue the possibility of the brain as purely an instrument that receives or accommodates consciousness. In other words, the brain and the mind are not the same thing.
In this breath I’ll conclude the chapter by posing this question: though mechanistic dogma might state, with no degree of uncertainty, that the subjective world is a result of the physical, might it be possible that it could actually be the other way round?