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Re: [steiner] Thinking and the I-Consciousness

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    In a message dated 1/2/2002 1:03:40 AM, softabyss@yahoo.com writes:
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 2, 2002
      In a message dated 1/2/2002 1:03:40 AM, softabyss@... writes:

      << Yes, this analog of the mirror has been so very helpful to me
      over the three years I've studied Steiner. I remember the
      first time it struck me that just as we can not hope to find
      the reflected image in an microscopic analysis of the mirror,
      we shall not find thinking or consciousness by delving into
      brain matter...


      *******Great way to put it. And speaking of that, here's a recent study
      showing consciousness is not in the brain any more than a TV program is in
      your TV set.


      Near Proof for Near-Death?

      By Shankar Vedantam
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Monday, December 17, 2001; Page A11

      The 44-year-old man who had collapsed in a meadow was brought to a
      hospital, unconscious and with no pulse or brain activity. Doctors began
      artificial respiration, heart massage and defibrillation.

      A nurse trying to feed a tube down the man's throat saw that he was
      wearing dentures. The nurse removed them and placed them on a stand
      called a "crash car." The patient was moved to the intensive care unit.

      A week later, after the patient had recovered, the nurse saw the man
      again. The man immediately recognized the nurse as the person who had
      removed his dentures and also remembered other details of what had
      happened while he was in a deep coma. He said he had perceived the
      events from above the hospital bed and watched doctors' efforts to save
      his life.

      This account would be standard fare in a supermarket tabloid, but last
      week it was published in the Lancet, a British medical journal. It is
      the latest in a long series of efforts to either document or debunk the
      existence of "near-death" experiences, something that for the most part
      has remained in the realm of the paranormal.

      The new study, conducted in the Netherlands, is one of the first
      so-called prospective scientific studies. Instead of interviewing people
      who reported near-death experiences after the fact, the researchers
      simply followed hundreds of patients who were resuscitated after
      suffering clinical death as their hearts stopped. The idea was that this
      approach might provide more accurate accounts by documenting the
      experiences as they happened, rather than basing them on recollections
      of the distant past.

      About 18 percent of the patients in the study reported some recollection
      of the period when they were clinically dead, and 8 percent to 12
      percent reported going through "near-death" experiences, such as seeing
      lights at the end of tunnels or "crossing over" and speaking with dead
      relatives and friends.

      The researchers say the evidence supports the validity of "near-death"
      experiences and suggests that scientists should rethink theories on one
      of the ultimate medical mysteries: the nature of human consciousness.

      Skeptics, however, maintain that the Dutch researchers had not provided
      evidence to buttress any extraordinary claims; certainly nothing as
      dramatic as proof that there is an afterlife.

      Most neuroscientists believe that consciousness is a byproduct of the
      physical brain, that mind arises from matter. But if near-death
      experiences are really what those who experience them say they are, does
      that mean that people can be conscious of events around them even when
      they are physically unconscious, when their brains do not show signs of
      electrical activity?

      How can consciousness be independent of brain function?

      "Compare it with a TV" program, said Pim van Lommel, a cardiologist at
      the Hospital Rijnstate in the Netherlands and the lead investigator of
      the research. "If you open the TV set you will not find the program. The
      TV set is a receiver. When you turn off your TV set, the program is
      still there but you can't see it. When you put off your brain, your
      consciousness is there but you can't feel it in your body."

      The study, he said in a telephone interview, suggested that researchers
      investigating consciousness "should not look in the cells and molecules

      Although the Dutch scientist said the research did not address whether
      there was such a thing as the soul or God or the afterlife, many
      remained skeptical. In an accompanying article, Christopher French,
      director of the Anomalistic Psychology Research unit at Britain's
      Goldsmiths College, said that multiple questions persisted.

      "We have understandable and natural urges to believe we will survive
      bodily death and we will be reunited with our departed loved ones," he
      said. "So anything that would support that idea -- reincarnation,
      mediums, ghosts -- present evidence of the survival of the soul. It's
      something that we would all desperately like to believe is true."

      French pointed out that some of those in the study who reported they had
      near-death experiences said in follow-up interviews that they had not
      had them, while a few who had said they had experienced nothing later
      said they now remembered them. He said that this could suggest that
      false memories were at play.

      "I don't think the study suggests anything beyond the dying process,"
      agreed Paul Kurtz, a former professor of philosophy at the State
      University of New York in Buffalo and the chairman for the Committee for
      the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

      "The out-of-body experience and light and traveling down a tunnel and
      meeting people on the other side -- in my view these are the
      psychological states that people go through as they are dying," he said.

      Both pointed out that hearing is the last sense to shut down in the
      dying brain and that victims such as the 44-year-old man may have heard
      some of the events around them and subconsciously reconstructed the
      events as visual.

      The Dutch researchers tracked 344 patients who had been resuscitated.
      They ranged in age from 26 to 92. Three-quarters were men. Most were
      interviewed within five days of being resuscitated, and the researchers
      followed up with interviews two and eight years later to test the
      reliability of the patients' memories.

      Patients' demographics, religious beliefs, psychological makeup and
      medical treatment were also documented to see who was more likely to
      report such experiences.

      The researchers found that the experiences did not correlate with any of
      the measured psychological, physiological or medical parameters, which
      Lommel said meant the experiences were unrelated to processes in the
      dying brain. Most patients had excellent recall of the events, he added,
      which undermined the theory that the memories were false.

      Finally, the people who had such experiences reported marked changes in
      their personalities, compared with those who had come near death but not
      had the experiences. They seemed to lose fear of death, and they became
      more compassionate, altruistic and loving.

      Bruce Greyson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia
      in Charlottesville who has also done research in the area, said that
      science had neither good explanations nor good rebuttals of the
      conclusions of the Dutch researchers.

      In experiments underway, he said, tiny signs were placed on the ceilings
      of hospital rooms, so that if people were genuinely having out-of-body
      experiences and hovering over their beds, they would be able to see the
      signs and provide "proof" of the phenomenon.

      While it may take a long time for such experiments to uncover a case, he
      and others said, because not all patients will be resuscitated in that
      room and not all cardiac arrest cases result in near-death experiences,
      it could provide evidence to buttress patients' reports.

      "Brain chemistry does not explain these phenomena," Greyson said. "I
      don't know what the explanation is, but our current understanding of
      brain chemistry falls short."

      © 2001 The Washington Post Company

      > *******Steiner put this all in another way in lectures, where he described
      > the body as providing a 'backing' like the silvered backing of a mirror,
      > enabling the "I" to reflect its activity back to itself. We do not THINK
      > the body, he's saying, but because we have a body our thinking becomes
      individually aware, develops an I-consciousness... and keeps this because
      > it's then taken up into the self-conscious human spirit we think with.
      > Starman >>
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