International Journal of Yoga - Philosophy, Psychology and Parapsychology

EDITORIAL
Year
: 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1--2

Consciousness: Going beyond the brain and death


Govindasamy Agoramoorthy 
 College of Pharmacy and Health Care, Tajen University, Yanpu, Pingtung 907, Taiwan, Pingtung

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Govindasamy Agoramoorthy
College of Pharmacy and Health Care, Tajen University, Yanpu, Pingtung 907, Taiwan
Pingtung




How to cite this article:
Agoramoorthy G. Consciousness: Going beyond the brain and death.Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol 2020;8:1-2


How to cite this URL:
Agoramoorthy G. Consciousness: Going beyond the brain and death. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 15 ];8:1-2
Available from: http://www.ijoyppp.org/text.asp?2020/8/1/1/277013


Full Text



People, in general, are puzzled by the marvel of death. Death as such is certainly a displeasing topic matter for discussion in society. Although death appears to be an ultimate endnote in the life saga, it's perhaps the friends and family who narrate the events proceeding to death of an individual. When old age catches up, people naturally think of death, but they often avoid discussing about it. However, the ancient Greek philosophers, namely Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, were perplexed by the notion of death. They also expressed their views out rightly.

Socrates spoke to his followers on the nature of soul and the afterlife. Before death, he talked about the existence of the immortal soul connected to body that constantly in conflict with worldly desires.[1] Similarly, Plato viewed death as the ultimate freedom for the soul from the body. On the other hand, Aristotle believed in the nature of the inseparable soul and body. These views portray the fact that ancient philosophers agreed on one thing for sure: death happens so nothing to fear about it. Thus, the fear of death, be it natural or unnatural, fascinates all humans across cultures over millennia.[2]

When I searched the scientific literature, I found journals titled “Death Studies,” Journal of Death and Dying, Journal of Near-Death Studies, etc., This evidently shows that scientists are also puzzled to explore the progressions of death. However, they seldom venture into the depth of consciousness. In fact, death can be described only by the perceptions of the living. Hence, the tools of yoga need to go beyond death to untangle the thrillers encasing the secrecies surrounding death. However, the question is: will it be logically feasible?

The cognitive faculties of the mind incorporate consciousness, which is intimately linked to the functioning of the brain. When biological functioning stops, brain death automatically happens. Thus, the phrase “consciousness” itself alarms scientists since they have no clue on how and where it arises in the brain. Anesthesiologists often face the consequences of consciousness as they routinely use chemicals to dose off patients during surgical procedures. However, one person in every 2000 surgeries regains or remains conscious during the procedure that puzzles physicians. Yet, they are unable to comprehend the diverse levels of expressed consciousness in patients.[3] Debates however continue on the altered states of consciousness including the near-death experiences as they intrigue physicians, psychologists, and neurologists. Critiques nonetheless argue that consciousness is nothing but a by-product of the brain circuitry and that's about it.[4]

We also come across some peculiar near-death cases in newspapers at times. For example, a man died of heart attack in Ohio, USA few years ago (https://kdvr.com/2014/02/18/man-dead-for-45-min-ays-he-awoke-after-seeing-afterlife). Although he was pronounced dead by physicians, his heart started beating after 45 min. Later, he remembered walking along a path lined with pretty flowers and touched by his recently dead mother-in-law who said that it is not time for him to die. It may appear as an illusion, but the patient did not show any brain damage even after 45 min of complete loss of the brain functioning.

Hence, I wonder whether the concept of death is just an illusion created by consciousness. The provocative theory of biocentrism in quantum physics states that the universe exists only in consciousness where life propelled by biology is the key to reality leading to the existence of the universe and not the other way around.[5] This may sound illogical, so research needs to go deeper into the parapsychological aspects of yoga.

When I searched the words “yoga health” and “yoga medicine” in the Web of Science database (http://apps.webofknowledge.com/WOS) from 1955 to 2019, it yielded 1,408 and 718 papers, respectively. However, the words “yoga parapsychology” surprisingly yielded no papers at all. This shows the lack of scientific scrutiny into this mysterious subject matter. When experienced yoga practitioners go deeper into the roots of psycho-spiritual pursuits, they may encounter glimpses of some paranormal phenomena. The ancient Hindu scripture, Patanjali Yoga-Sutras, outlines various paranormal phenomena encountered by great yogis.[6] Such paranormal features involving yoga still needs to be logically tested through systematic experimental research. That's why the future yoga research agenda needs to proceed deeper into not only parapsychology but also biological functioning of the brain and beyond to unravel the mysteries surrounding death and the certainty of consciousness.

References

1Bostock D. Plato's 'Phaedo'. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1986.
2Agoramoorthy G, Hsu MJ. The Suicide Paradigm: Insights from Ancient Hindu Scriptures. J Relig Health 2017;56:807-16.
3Sebel PS, Bowdle TA, Ghoneim MM, Rampil IJ, Padilla RE, Gan TJ, et al. The incidence of awareness during anesthesia: A multicenter United States study. Anesth Analg 2004;99:833-9.
4Facco E, Agrillo C, Greyson B. Epistemological implications of near-death experiences and other non-ordinary mental expressions: Moving beyond the concept of altered state of consciousness. Med Hypotheses 2015;85:85-93.
5Lanza R. Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books; 2016.
6Satchidananda SS. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Buckingham, Virginia: Integral Yoga Publications; 2012.