19th-century English historian Henry Buckle: “If immortality be untrue, it matters little whether anything else be true or not.”
Since prehistory, the most prevalent doctrine about sentience is that consciousness is an incarnation of an immortal soul. Maharaj: “The senses in the body operate only thanks to the consciousness. And you are separate from this body and the consciousness.”
There are 6 distinct, amply documented bodies of evidence that souls exist. They are out-of-body experiences, remote viewing, near-death experiences, terminal lucidity, ghosts, and reincarnation.
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An out-of-body experience is conscious awareness detached from the physical body. Though still energetically tethered to the body, the mind sensates remotely.
Out-of-body experiences have been reported throughout history. They were known to the ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, American Indians, Hindus, Hebrews, Muslims, and Oceanic peoples. 90% of the cultures in the world have a tradition regarding out-of-body experiences.
15 to 20% of people have an out-of-body experience sometime during their lives. Out-of-body experiences tend to be spontaneous, though some people can will an out-of-body experience. Many recall the experience as blissful.
The validity of out-of-body experiences has been repeatedly confirmed by out-of-body travelers relating physical details of environments they could not have otherwise known.
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Out-of-body experiences are the dime store version of long-distance vision called remote viewing. American CIA official Norm J, responsible for the US military’s Fort Meade remote viewing unit: “You can’t be involved in this for any length of time and not be convinced.”
The US military ran a remote viewing project dubbed Stargate from 1978 to 1995. The US used remote viewers to find a downed Russian bomber in Africa, know the health of American hostages in Iran, locate a kidnapped American general in Italy, surveil Soviet weapons factories, witness a Chinese atomic bomb test 3 days before it occurred, and map numerous otherwise undetectable archeological sites.
As a prelude to the Stargate project, the psychic abilities of American painter Ingo Swann were extensively studied. Swann quickly got bored with such tests as describing pictures in sealed envelopes. So, researchers gave Swann a formidable challenge: to view Jupiter from his chair in a California lab. At that time – in 1973 – specifics of Jupiter’s appearance were unknown. 6 years later, the Voyager 1 probe transmitted back details. What Swann precisely described in 1973 – thin, glittering rings in the upper atmosphere, among other things – were confirmed by the first satellite sent Jupiter’s way. American physicist Russell Targ, who studied Ingo Swann: “Unlike Saturn’s rings, which are clearly visible from Earth even through small telescopes, Jupiter’s rings are so difficult to see that they weren’t discovered until the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1979.”
English psychologist and paranormal skeptic Richard Wiseman sums up: “By the standards of any science, remote viewing is proven.”
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Belgian psychologist Charlotte Martial: “Near-death-experiences seem to be regularly triggered by a sense of detachment from the physical body and end when returning to one’s body.”
A study of 140 survivors of cardiac arrest found numerous instances of awareness while their body was non-functional, yet they had, according to American physician Sam Parnia “explicit recall of actual events related to their resuscitation. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected.” Parnia continues: “Awareness appeared to occur during a 3-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections were consistent with verified events.”
While out-of-body experiences are common in near-death experiences, a feeling of peacefulness is reported by 80% of those having had a near-death experience. Shuffling off the mortal coil provides the emotive experience of enlightenment: detached contentment.
Correspondent with closure approaching death, brain activity surges with a coherent harmony of waves that typifies transcendence during meditation. Mongolian neurobiologist Jimo Borjigin: “The mammalian brain can paradoxically generate neural correlates of heightened conscious processing at near-death.”
The most common aftereffect of having a near-death experience is a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in life.
People who have had out-of-body experiences feel less fear of death. Experiencing materiality as a mirage fosters a proper perspective for living.
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American neurobiologist George Mashour: “There have been innumerable anecdotes of unexpected or paradoxical mental lucidity in the days and weeks before death among people with longstanding dementia.”
Terminal lucidity occurs when those with a severe chronic brain disease experience a revival of mental clarity before dying. This phenomenon has repeatedly been reported since antiquity. German American neurobiologist Michael Nahm: “The most remarkable cases involve patients whose brains were destroyed by diseases such as tumors and Alzheimer’s, but who seemed to recover shortly before death with their memory intact.”
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Ghosts have been noted in every culture worldwide throughout history. Attachment to life can be so strong that the shock of its sudden termination is deemed unacceptable. American paranormal researcher Hans Holzer: “A ghost is somebody who’s gotten stuck in the physical world but is not part of the physical world.”
Normally, at death, one’s spirit is ushered out of the body. For those who become ghosts, the soul transition process falters because of trauma at the time of death. Ghosts just won’t let go. Hans Holzer: “A ghost appears to be a surviving emotional memory of someone who has died traumatically, and usually tragically, but is unaware of his or her death. Unwilling to part the physical world, such personalities continue to stay on where their tragedy or their emotional attachment had existed prior to physical death.” A ghost is a soul with post-traumatic stress disorder after their body has died.
According to copiously documented sightings, the presidential mansion in the US, called the White House, is haunted.
Willie Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, died in 1862, at age 11, of typhoid fever, while in the White House. His father thereafter received regular visits. A bereaved Mary Lincoln spoke of seeing her son’s ghost once at the foot of her bed. Willie Lincoln was also seen by staff members of the Grant administration in the 1870s. President Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Lynda saw and talked with the disembodied young Lincoln.
After his 1865 assassination, Lincoln joined his son in phantasmal appearances. First lady Grace Coolidge spoke of seeing Lincoln looking out a window in his former office.
In 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had just stepped out of a hot bath in the Lincoln bedroom, wearing nothing but a cigar, when he encountered Lincoln by the fireplace. Churchill said, “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.”
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom in 1942 when she heard a knock on the bedroom door. She opened it to see Lincoln and fainted.
President Ronald Reagan said that his dog would go into any room in the White House except the Lincoln bedroom, where he’d just stand outside the door and bark. Reagan and his daughter Maureen both admitted that they saw the spectral Lincoln in the White House.
There have been many other reports by numerous people serving in various administrations of seeing Lincoln, including President Theodore Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Roosevelt.
Abigail Adams was the 1st First Lady to live in the White House. She used the East Room to dry sheets. Since her death, there have been repeated sightings of her likeness in that area. She walks with her arms out-stretched, as if holding clean linens.
Dolley Madison liked taking care of the White House garden. During the Woodrow Wilson administration, staff members reported seeing her ghost as they were about to move the Rose Garden. They decided to leave the garden where Dolley wanted it.
William Henry Harrison was the first president to die in the White House. He haunts the attic.
US President Harry Truman, on his tenure at the White House: “The damned place is haunted, sure as shootin’.”
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An afterlife has been a central tenet in all religions. Reincarnation figures in the religions spawned in the Indian subcontinent, the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, and also among indigenous peoples worldwide.
Young children, typically between the ages of 3 to 5 years, have the most vivid memories of a past incarnation. Canadian-born American psychiatrist Ian Stevenson extensively recorded the memories of reincarnation in 3,000 children worldwide. Stevenson: “Too often the children are troubled by confusion regarding their identity and this becomes even more severe in those children who, conscious of being in a small body, can remember having been in an adult one, or who remember a life as a member of the opposite sex.”
Other researchers have reported on children who remember a previous incarnation, citing details they could not possibly know. Some children exhibit xenoglossy: being able to speak an unfamiliar foreign language.
Stevenson and others have found correlations between previous lives and birthmarks or physical defects in the reincarnated, and otherwise inexplicable food and clothing preferences – and, in some cases, certain fears.
A common myth about reincarnation is that it is progressive: that a soul matures through existential seasoning. Nature is not a moral accountant, and the soul is not a pecuniary ledger.
The evolution of a soul is in its learning from experience. Every incarnation presents a challenge that reflects the residual of the previous incarnation. Learning in life works as a puzzle to be solved: to progress from ignorance to realization. Indian guru Anandamayi Maa: “The supreme calling of every human being is to aspire to self-realization.”
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Every culture since prehistory, and practically all religions, have teachings related to spiritual presences, including Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islamism. The most publicized, and extreme, aspect of presences is exorcism: the expunging of a malingering spirit. Exorcism rites feature in all the aforementioned religions.
An individual soul is part of a group, like a leaf on a tree. This spirit complex corresponds with the fact that all animals are symbiorgs: hosts with vast, multitudinous microbiomes.
Spirit presences transiently make themselves felt in various ways, including moods, thoughts, insights, and in dreams.
The body is warm and energy cold. Strong presences may sometimes be felt as a core of cold which may cause an internal shiver. Ghosts may also be felt by a chilling sensation.
People are aware of presences to various degrees. Ascension to enlightenment may make you more sensitive to spirits, just as sensitivity to all aspects of being is heightened. This acuity can be instrumental in identifying the source of certain curious mentation.
Presences may feed off of or feed psychic energy. Like quanta, which are incomplete without their virtual companions, souls do not exist in solitude.
Presences are part of life: an involuntary sociality on the spirit plane. Nisargadatta Maharaj: “You are never alone. There are powers and presences who serve you all the time most faithfully. You may or may not perceive them, nevertheless they are real and active.”
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Immortal souls and a vibrant spirit plane have been a staple of cultures worldwide since antiquity. Next, we shift gears from immortality to the here-and-now, with a look at perspectives on perception.