Tag Archives: dying

The Science of Reincarnation

 

Physics of the Soul: The Quantum Book of Living, Dying, Reincarnation, and Immortality by Amit Goswami, PhD

physics

 

So judging from the title you know this is going to be a tough book. Intriguing- yes, but not a walk in the park. Amit Goswami is a theoretical quantum physicist and in the book he attempts to reconcile the science and metaphysics of reincarnation and immortality. Essentially he outlines a science for reincarnation and some kinds of paranormal phenomena. The structure of the book follows the ponderings of a scientist as he develops his theory. Although this is personal, I often lost track of the details as he set forth on one track only to reverse himself later. As a reader (without a PhD in physics), I’d rather have the bare bones of the theory without the intricacies of why he went one direction or another. No one should attempt this book as a first foray into the quantum world, but for those with familiarity with nonlocality and the double slit experiment, go for it. This adventure will include proving that The Tibetan Book of the Dead is correct. There is no way I can cover the entire book, but I’m going to outline some of our quantum scientist’s ideas.

wheel

Photo:Philipp Roeli

The underlying paradigm shift that is required for us to understand this new science of reincarnation involves dropping the notion that matter creates consciousness. That is an outdated, old Newtonian idea. Consciousness is the basis of everything. It is consciousness that creates matter. The brain does not make us conscious. The brain is a receiver for consciousness. For most of you reading this blog, you long ago accepted that idea (so what else is new, you’re asking. Well, keep reading).

 

Goswami borrows from Indian medicine the idea that we have five bodies of consciousness. The first one (and the only one for materialists) is the physical body. Then comes the vital body made of vital energy followed by the mental body. The fourth body is the supramental intellect and the fifth is unlimited bliss (Brahma). Eastern traditions rely on the idea of chi or prana. Goswami thinks that acupuncture and chakra work, similarly and yet using different energy points or centers can both be effective because they are quantum in nature. They exist in possibility until the quantum wave collapses. (A fascinating idea that will drive a materialist scientist mad trying to figure out which modality is correct.) It is in the interaction of these subtle bodies outlined above which allows for the soul to survive and reincarnate.

subtle-bodies

At death, the physical body dies along with classical memory. However, quantum memory (acquired through repetition and stored in the vital and mental bodies) and the subtle bodies continue to exist. According to Goswami, souls cannot grow spiritually once they shed the physical body because they lack subject/object awareness. Although this may upset some notions of heaven, it does give weight to the idea that a physical body has a purpose and that purpose is spiritual growth.

In this theory, people who have had near-death-experiences or out-of-body experiences have shifted their center of identity to the vital/mental bodies which could be a Samadhi experience (without ego) but haven’t actually died.

Drawing on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, after physical death we have opportunities to transcend (and return to the Quantum Monad), but most of us will miss those chances and return. In the in-between states, we have the ability to correlate and communicate with the child you will be. In Goswami’s theory, karma is not reward or punishment but rather contexts or themes we develop in one life which continue. Failure to learn the theme results in more opportunities in later lives to obtain that knowledge. Learning creatively with closure “burns” karma. Other people (quantum monads) can become entangled with us as either supporters or enemies to help us learn our themes. At the end of each life, we have the opportunity to transcend again.

chakras

Art: by Kwakin1

There is a whole section devoted to ways to live spiritually. Goswami believes that our inner and outer expressions of creativity are key to developing a unique spiritual path. The book culminates with further musings on the evolution of the supermind, UFOs, and alien intelligences. Overall, this is a fascinating book! Find someone to talk to as you’re reading it. It provides great opportunity for discussion.

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WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE TO DIE TO FIND OUT?

    THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD

Tibetan Book of the Dead

In 1927 American anthropologist, Walter Evans-Wentz published a bestseller he called The Tibetan Book of the Dead taking his lead from the Edwardian fascination with all things Egyptian. Only five years earlier Howard Carter had discovered King Tut’s tomb. Evans- Wentz’s book or subsequent translations can be found in most bookstores and the original has never gone out of print. During the rebellious Hippie days, the book was re-interpreted by Timothy Leary at Harvard to guide and justify the use of LSD. How can an eighth century Buddhist text still capture our imagination? Simple really. It might just hold the key to what happens after death.

Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup & Walter Evans-Wentz, circa 1919

Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup & Walter Evans-Wentz, circa 1919

Not that this book will ever really be mainstream. How could it be in a society perpetually captivated by youth and the denial of death? Americans do not talk about death. It is taboo. People die in hospitals and nursing homes, and we like it that way. As a society, we are all about acquiring stuff and death has its upside. Maybe we’ll inherit something. That’s probably about as deep as it goes. We muddle through funerals and try very hard to get back to normal. It is the odd fellow who contemplates his own death. So if you are a typical American, this is where you go look for something ego-comforting and fluffy elsewhere on the web.

Ah, but what if you’re not typical. Come closer because we are about to examine the origin of a mysterious text and answer some questions about what happens to you when you die.

PADMASAMBHAVA, wall painting in Bhutan, Baldiri, 2007

PADMASAMBHAVA, wall painting in Bhutan, Baldiri, 2007

Sometime in the eighth century the famous Indian saint, Padmasambhava entered Tibet. Today he is known for converting the indigenous demonic spirits of Tibet to Buddhism, doing healings, and producing miracles. He also wrote a funerary text which he called Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State. Some scholars have called it the first how-to book, but today we  know it as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Upon reflection, Padmasambhava felt he couldn’t release the book to a population of newly created Buddhists. He hid the book keeping it safe for future generations. Six hundred years later, treasure revealer (terton), Karma Lingpa had a vision and was able to recover the manuscript.

The book is a guide for what happens to your consciousness as it passes from this life to the next. Reading it before death allows for preparation and familiarization with the process.

For, at this singular opportunity, you could

attain the everlasting bliss (of nirvana).

     So now is (certainly) not the time to sit idly,

     But, starting with (the reflection on) death, you

should bring your practice to completion.

In Tibet, the text is read for the dead by monks during a forty-nine day transition period. After encountering the light (similar to what NDE survivors report), the deceased is faced with three bardo states. Each phase offers the opportunity for liberation (enlightenment). Rare individuals who have been well-prepared avoid subsequent phases having mastered the understanding of consciousness, avoid rebirth, and become enlightened. Others pass through the bardo stages where various peaceful and terrifying beings appear arriving at the third which concerns itself with rebirth. A person’s karma then directs rebirth into one of six realms. The human realm (although not the most comfortable) is considered to be the best because it offers the possibility of eventual enlightenment. The deceased has the ability to choose his parents and the best situation for the next incarnation.

Zhi Khro Bardo Thodol: Mandala associated with The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Zhi Khro Bardo Thodol: Mandala associated with The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The value of The Tibetan Book of the Dead does not lie in its vivid descriptions of the entities the deceased meets along the way because those can be viewed as cultural constructions. Interestingly enough though, it might explain why Christians meet Jesus or Muslims meet Mohammed as reported in near-death accounts. The bardos are constructions of the mind, self-generated, and culturally dependent. You can only create what you are familiar with and what scares you the most. So the value of this profound and lyrical text is an overall familiarization with the process of death as a transition of consciousness. From the Tibetan standpoint, death doesn’t have to be a scary unknown. It is knowable and everyone can prepare for it. What would it be like to live a life not fearing death? How would our world change?

Watch a History Channel Documentary on The Tibetan Book of the Dead:

                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ermcc6iDqQA

FOR MORE:

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Pilgrims of the Clear Light- Biography of Walter Evans-Wentz by Ken Winkler

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