The ground of faith
 Science and Mysticism together
spinning globe

Near Death Experiences and Out of the Body Experiences
the following four sites deserve careful study.

Dr. Pim van Lommel     "The Lancet" and van Lommel

Dr Sam Parnia Southampton, England
Near Death Experiences in Cardiac Arrest and the Mystery of Consciousness
Dr Bruce Greyson 

TRANSCRIPT of  sound track of the part dealing with  the operation on Pam Reynolds, and her NDE.
  Brain specialist Dr Fenwick     "One of the things that has always fascinated me
about these experiences is the  question When do these experiences occur? Because the common story is that
you go nearly dead, your brain is not active any more, and you are having this
experience while the brain is dead, then you wake up and remember it. But actually
 I think it is much more likely that you are having these experiences when you are
 going into unconsciousness and when you are coming out. These are the borderline
 states in which you know that hallucinations and peculiar feelings are happening
anyway. And it is not happening right in the middle when people are clinically dead.
 Now, to find out the answer is very difficult. We need to have some kind of
 timing mechanism for the experience. And that means catching people
 describing something happening at a specific time, and we know what
was happening in their brain at that time. But that’s very difficult to arrange,
 so for the moment we don’t know, and my strong betting is that all these
experiences are at the beginning and at the end in that borderline state."
Commentator: For experts like Dr Blackmore no one NDE has ever been recorded with
 irrefutable clinical evidence to support the idea that the mind can live on
after the brain has stopped functioning after death.

But in Atlanta, Georgia, one particular case was to astonish experts and doctors.
Dr Michael Sabom  cardiologist was also studying NDEs when he came
 across one extraordinary account.
    "Pam's case is unique in that she had a NDE at a time when she was fully
 instrumented under medical observation. I think if you wanted to construct a
 laboratory experiment where you had someone and took him close to death
or perhaps even into death as possible, and then bring them back and ask them
 what they could recall. Pam's case comes closer to this than any other so far
 that we know of."
Commentator:Pam Reynolds was an established song writer, singer and a busy working
mother. In 1991 she became seriously ill.
Pam Reynolds: "I began to experience extreme dizziness, loss of speech, some difficulty in
 moving the body, and it was then that my physician recommended that I have a
catscan. The Catscan showed an aneurysm, it was a big, a giant aneurysm.
I was referred to a neurologist, and the neurologist gave me no chance of
 survival at all,"
Commentator: But for Pam there was one last hope. She made what she assumed would
 be her last journey. 2000 miles to the Barrow Neurological Unit in Phoenix
Pam Reynolds: "I remember the bright sunshine. The light in Phoenix Arizona is piercing, from
summer on, and I remember getting into the shower. I had been given a scrub
 cap with a hard bristle brush with an antibacterial solution to reduce the
chances of infection I am sure. To this day I can remember the stinging of
that brush and of that solution on my skin. I can remember being placed on a
carney with squeaking wheels.
Commentator:Neurosurgeon  Dr Robert Spetzler decided to
 take on Pam's case against all odds.
Dr Robert Spetzler: "What we are looking at is the aneurysm that she had. This is at the very
 base of the brain. This is the balloon that can burst and cause this incredible
 catastrophe in the patient's brain. Why is this so difficult in this particular case?
 I think it is easiest to see here, when you look at this plastic model of the head,
 and we turn it around, and we take out the top of the brain. What we are
 talking about is that aneurysm is all the way at the very base of the brain, and
 that is why it is so incredibly difficult to get there. So you have to go somehow
 through the skull… When we look at it, in the natural brain, we can actually
see where that is….
Here is the brain stem. All the function of the brain passes through the brain
 stem. That is why it is so difficult to treat, and why it is so catastrophic if things
 go wrong."
Commentator: The operation that Pam was about to undergo was known as Operation Standstill.
 Pam's body temperature was lowered to 10-15 degrees C. Her heart and
breathing stopped, The brain waves flattened and blood drained from the head.
 She would be clinically dead for a whole hour of the operation.
Dr Robert Spetzler"What we want to do is to bring the brain to a halt. We want the metabolic activity
 of the brain stopped, every measurably output that the body puts out really
disappears completely. You have measurably neuronal activity whatsoever.
Prior to the operation starting a lot of activity goes on, the patient is put to sleep,
 the eyes are taped shut, there are little clicking devices put in each ear in order to
 monitor the brain. The patient is then completely covered. The only area that is
exposed is the head where we work..
Pam Reynolds "I don’t remember the operating room. I don’t remember seeing Dr Spetzler at
all. It was one of his fellows that was with me at that time. After that, nothing.
Absolutely nothing until the sound." "And the sound was unpleasant,.. reminiscent
 of being in a dentist's office, and I remember the top of my head tingling, and I
just sort of popped out of the top of my head, and I was there looking down at
the body. And I knew that it was my body, but I didn’t care. My vantage point
was sort of sitting on the doctor's shoulder. I remember the instrument in his hand.
 It looked like the handle of my electric toothbrush. I had assumed that they were
 going to open the skull with a saw. I heard the term saw. But what I saw looked
 a lot more like a drill than a saw. It even had these little Bits which were kept in
this case. It was like the case my father kept his pocket wrenches in when I was
a child. Then I distinctly remember hearing a female voice saying "We have a problem,
 the artery is too small" (Male) "Try the other side".  It seemed to come from down
on the table. I do remember wondering what are they doing there, because this is
 brain surgery. And what had happened was that they had accessed the femural
arteries in order to drain the blood, and I did not understand that."
"In the course of my study I interviewed Dr Spetzler, and looked at his operative
report, I found that what she saw in her OBE seemingly corresponded very accurately
 to what had actually occurred. She looked at the bone saw that was being used
 to cut open her skull, I didn't have any idea what this thing looked like. She described
 it as an electric toothbrush which I thought was ridiculous, I had to send off for
 a picture of this saw to Fort Worth, Texas, to confirm whether or not what she
said it looked like was accurate. And I was astounded when I saw the picture,
 it does in deed resemble an electric toothbrush."
"I don’t think the observations that she made were based on her experiences as
 she went into the operating room, they were just not available to her. For the drill
 and so on, all those things were covered up. Not visible, they were inside their
 packages. You really don’t get to open them until the patient is completely asleep,
 so that you can maintain a sterile environment. She also heard a conversation
during the operation between Dr Spetlzer and the cardiovascular surgeons that
were cutting in to her legs to hook her up to the heart lung machine. When the
cardiac surgeon incised her right groin, she found that her veins and arteries were
 too small. She had to go over to the left side. And the conversation between the
doctors, Pam accurately recalled hearing that conversation."
"At that stage in the operation, nobody can observe, hear, in that state. And I find
it inconceivable that your normal senses such as hearing , let alone that she had 
clicking modules in her ears, that there was any to hear those words through
normal auditory pathways. So again this is very suggestive that there was some sort
 of extrasensory perception, or OBE or whatever occurring at the time, which was
allowing Pam hear accurately and seemingly see accurately what was going on in the
operating room at the time.
Pam Reynolds "I felt a presence, I sort of turned around to look at it, and then it was that I saw
 the tiny pin-point of light. And the light seemed to pull me, and I know how odd
this must sound, nevertheless it was true. There is a visible sensation, rather like
going over,.. and I went toward the light. I began to discern different people
different figures. I heard a friend call. It was a very immediate voice. And I went
over to her. It felt great. Someone called me who had passed away when he was
only thirty nine years old. He had taught me a lot, he taught me to play my first
 guitar, and I saw many many people I knew, and others I didn’t know, but I knew
 that I was in some way connected to them. I asked if God was the light, and the
 answer was No God is not the light. The light is what happens when God breathes.
 And I remember thinking that I am standing in the breath of God. At some point
 in time I was reminded that it was time to go back. Of course I had made my
decision to go back, before I laid down on that table. But the more I was there,
 the better I liked it. And my uncle was the one that brought me back down to the
 body. When I got to where the body was, I had a look at the thing, and I was sure
 that I didn’t want to get into it, because it looked pretty much like it was, as void
of life, and I knew it would hurt, since I didn’t want to get back in, he started reasoning
with me, like diving into a swimming pool. He reminded me about the children.
And I said My children will be fine. You have got to go. "No!" He pushed me, he
 gave me a little help there. It has taken a long time, but I think I am ready to forgive
 him for that! I saw the body jump and then he pushed me, and I felt..
Commentator"This is a classic NDE occurring under extremely monitored medical conditions,
 where very known vital sign, and basically every clinical sign of life and death
 was being monitored at the time. And that is what makes her case so remarkable
and so valuable."
"I don’t have an explanation for it. I don’t know how it is possible for it to happen
considering the physiological state she was in. At the same time I have seen so many
 things that I cant explain, that I don’t want to be so arrogant as to say that there is
no way that it can happen."
Pam's case shows that somehow she was able to maintain coherent perception and
memory whilst clinically dead. This suggests some kind of mind brain separation.
When the heart is stopped and the brain is not functioning there can be no memory,
 no remembering of experience .. the memory circuits don’t work. So when the
NDE talks about these memories of going out of their bodies.. it is difficult for our
current neuroscience to understand how this can happen when the memory system is
 defunct, and so in some way the information is retained outside the brain, and then
 later on is fixed in the memory circuits. Or you have to argue that somehow or
another it occurs in the brain and goes into memory in a way that we do not understand.
Scientists are agreed that they have yet to discover what the mind is, or how the
 brain produces consciousness. What makes us, us, has always been a mystery.
The oldest, the most formidable, the most exciting challenge that science has yet to solve.
In the middle of the Arizona desert there is a scientist who is trying to come up
with the answers. To unravel just what the mind is, and to explain how consciousness occurs.
Prof Stuart Hameroff is an anaesthetist, and a director of consciousness studies
 at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Prof Hemeroff has been working with physicist  Roger Penrose developing a
theory about consciousness which might bring us to an understanding about how
 and when NDE happen.
Prof Hameroff:"When a patient is anaesthetized they are completely
unconscious, they feel no pain, are not conscious have no memory. Unlke sleep
there is no dreaming and if someone takes a knife to them they don’t feel it, so it is
 different from sleep. The brain is still active, there is electrical activity, but it is kind
of like a motor idling, with the clutch in the brain is telling the lungs to breathe, the
 heart to work, it is doing all kinds of htings, but the thing that is missing is
consciousness. So it is a good way of isolating or separating consciousness
from other brain functions. So understanding anaesthesia is a clue to understanding
Commentator: Pro Hameroff has been studying microscopic brain structures called microtubules
that are deep inside the cells that form the brain. It is at this microscopic level that
 he believes the brain produces the mind.
Hameroff"Inside of cells, including nerve cells, there are forests of routers, or cylindrical
structures or microtubules, self assembled to form the shape of the cell. They are
 also the nervous system of the cell, which process the information internally and
organise what happens within each cell. And also how cells interact with other cells.
 These microtubules are also very well designed as computational devices."
Commentator: Hameroff proposes that the microtubules are tiny on board computers that organise
 cellular activities in the brain. He has been studing a structure in the cells. He sees
them as quantum computers.
Hameroff"The quantum world at the level of atoms and below has some very strange
properties. For example everything can be interconnected with everything else,
particles can be in two or more places at the same time by the process called
superposition, so in a quantum computer, information can be in two states at the
 same time."
Commentator: This ability to be in two places at once, known as Superposition in space-time
geometry is thought to be a fundamental property of the very fabric of the universe.
 The fundamental level of the universe is so infinitesimally small that it impossible
even to imagine, but as go down in size scale for example from our brains to our
nerve cells to the microtubules, and inside the microtubules we have atoms, and keep
 going down even smaller than atoms (atoms are mostly empty space).. imagine
 that you are in an aeroplane looking at the surface of the ocean from 33000 feet,
 the surface of the ocean looks very smooth, however if you are in a boat on the
 surface, it is choppy, and there is a pattern obviously in the waves; similarly when
 we get down to this fundamental level of the universe, there is information that is
patterned, that information gives rise to consciousness precursors. It is there at the
 most basic level of the universe that Hameroff and Penrose believe that
consciousness occurs. Concerning the well established field of relativity, Einstein
said that everything, matter, energy, space and time, and the very fabric of the
universe works on the tiniest scales, and that it is at this level that consciousness
may exist, within the processes of the microtubules, which could explain how
NDEs occur. The microtubule coherence pumping activity stops, it leaks out, it
is not lost or destroyed, leaks out into the universe at large. It spread out but hangs
 together due to another strange phenomenon, of quantum coherence.  By this
mechanism it is possible for consciousness to exist at least temporarily outside the
 body, floating above the body, floating above the body observing resuscitation.
Hameroff's study can give us a glimpse of what life after death may be like, into
a world where we don’t have the technology or capability for scientific understanding.
One thing is clear, that NDEs have extreme effects on the people who have them.
 Most people who have these experiences are profoundly changed.
They become less materialistic, competitive, less involved in personal power,
 prestige and fame, much more concerned about relationships with others,
and with the spiritual side of their lives. People change their careers. And while
NDEs have changed lives, they have given some people experiences, that they
 never would have dreamt of having.


This month's issue journal producers Subscription
Copyright © The Ground of Faith 2003 (note any individual authors retain their own copyright)