Sunday, October 30, 2005

From Here to Eternity

The body of knowledge that I am about to write here makes sense to me, but it may not make sense to some of you. There is no "scientific" base to this knowledge, and may in parts sound delusional, wishful, or psychotic even. The knowledge is based on the clinical records of many patients who, when underwent hypnosis, narrated their experiences. It starts with the very subject that no one really wants to think or talk about: death. I guess there is a degree of fear in us that prevents us from confronting the subject. Gordon Smith, a prominent medium from the U.K., has written a book called "Spirit Messenger" (Hay House, 2003) in which he quoted a message that he received, when in deep trance, from a spirit who identified herself as "Dominica". Here is the quote (page 183-184):

"…Fear is the one major problem that humankind shares. All of our problems are born out of fear. You become afraid when you lack things, but even more afraid when you have things, fearing that you will lose what you now have. That which you fear most is death and dying. All of you life you are plagued by the thought of death, either your own or those whom you love.

"Try to accept the impermanence of the physical world in which you live. Remember that all life is in constant motion. By trying to hold on to a particular part of your life, you will become restricted and afraid of change. When first you learn not to fear, this is the first day of your true life. Let us in the Spirit teach you so that you will no longer fear and your lives can be lived blessed with freedom and peace.

However, I am not here to talk about Fear, I am here to share the body of knowledge that I have learnt over the past few months through heavy readings. I am a sane person, still a man of free will to a large degree, and holding a job that gives me enough to ward off the wolves on the door. My work performance has been well above average, and the bosses are happy with it. I am respected by my colleagues, and friends find me easy going. I am not outstanding, nor outrageous; all in all, I am really your OK guy. Because I know what I believe in, I am not worried about what anyone may think, really, least of all the skeptics of this world. I maybe vulnerable emotionally, but I am not gullible or stupid.

My journey began with the book titled "The Chicken Soup for the Grieving Souls", among several others, thanks to my loving nieces from afar. At the time I have just lost my loved one, and I was deeply affected by my grief. The books not only soothed my soul, but also whetted by appetite for more. Indeed, I was more than curious about the hereafter, and I have good reasons for it. Missing loved one(s) is the most painful experience one can endure, be it through separation or death. With separation, there is always a dim hope of getting together one day; with death, the parting is final. The longing to remain in touch was real for me, and the realisation that this was no longer possible was devastating. I hunted through book stores relentlessly and eventually found several more books in various book stores. With the books written by Gordon Smith, James Van Praag, and John Edward, each a prominent medium, I found a new hope: it is still possible to contact the departed loved one(s) afterall.

A medium acts as a messenger in the communication between "this side" and the "other side". A gifted medium can deliver the messages clearly, precisely, and, most important of all, accurately. They can tell you things that only you and your deceased loved one(s) would know. You as a sitter can "validate" the information delivered to you and experience the moving moments only you can appreciate while in contact with your loved one(s) on the other side. A medium has no control as to who may come through, but if your loved one(s) are around you, as they always will be, they will come through. Yes, your loved one(s) will always be looking over you, no matter where you are, as long as you have them in your heart. The messages are usually of no significance, just to let you know that they are who they claim to be (only you know that), and that they are still around you and doing fine. The power of healing on the broken soul on this side is unbelievably strong. One finds peace almost immediately knowing that the souls of your loved one(s) have not died, and that you will all be together again one day. This makes moving on in life less painful.

Souls are energies that live in another dimension. This concept was thoroughly explored by Dr Michael Newton in his three ground breaking books, "Journey of Souls" (1994), "Destiny of Souls" (2000) and "Life Between Lives" (2004). In his practice as clinical psychiatrist he would use regression hypnosis to take a patient back to his/her past lives to understand their current ailments. His later research, up until now, has been concentrated on the souls as a "community" living in another dimension. He collects his "data" by regressing his research subjects through hypnosis to the time just after the death in their last life when their souls go back to another dimension to join up their respective cluster groups in their community. The activities and the purposes of these souls were studied in details in the three books published which I find fascinating. The message is clear: we come here on earth to learn our lessons in order to advance our soul, and we reincarnate life after life until all lessons are learned. Frequently many from our own core cluster group may reincarnate together in order to render supports to one another on earth in our common objective to advance further. The roles we play in each life may change depending on what lessons we need to learn. Father-daughter in the last life may become two brothers or sisters. Gender is not important in as far as role play is concerned. Two soul mates may become partners again in several lives together, or may not be at all. They may also return as siblings or friends. Our souls are guided by other more advanced souls. These are the ones who whisper to us when we have a flash of intuition as we come to a crossroad and unable to decide which path to take. They are our soul protectors as well. When a soul reincarnates, its energy would frequently split, leaving a portion behind "at home". A soul can also reincarnate concurrently in two places at the same time, depending on the strength of the energy. The energy of soul vibrates at higher frequency than our physical body. To get a glimpse of the afterlife, we can raise our vibration frequency through meditation.

In a series of books published to date, Dr Brian Weiss (see earlier blog on his interview) has also used the regression hypnosis to take his patients back to their past lives in order to find out the root causes of their problems in the current life. But unlike Dr Michael Newton, Dr Brian Weiss has not explored the life of souls between earthly lives. He is more interested in the karmic effect of past lives on the patients' problems in this life. There is an interesting case that Weiss briefly mentioned in one of the books. When a couple was regressed in his office they both experienced the same past life simultaneously when they were together in that life. The details that emerged were later on compared and turned out to match with those that they experienced in the past lives.

There are other researchers in the field as well, but I have yet to catch up with their writings. It's remarkable that thousands of subjects, when undergo regression hypnosis, have shared similar experiences. All have narrated their past lives, and all have observed their surroundings as souls. There is afterlife after one dies. Souls do survive in the form of energies after the death of their physical bodies. Near Death Experiences, as reported by so many people, have shown that souls do leave their earth bound bodies behind to return to their "home" in another dimension (the other side). But when they were "told" that it's not their time yet they would return to their original bodies in order to complete the unfinished businesses here on earth.

Souls are immortal. They live in a very structured dimension that is full of light, love, wisdom and peace. They speak of "The Source" as the ultimate place where they would hope to join one day. "The Source" is the Creator of all, and what the Christians would refer to as God. To reach that ultimate state, we, as souls, would reincarnate to learn the ultimate meaning of LOVE and its embodiment. This may take many lifetimes to achieve. A lesson will repeat itself until it is learnt, in one lifetime, or several.

I am more at peace now than I was for the past decades. I have come to the crossroad where I have needed to make a choice, and I have chosen the path that will guide me spiritually from here on. I don't know where I am going, but I will get to where I am meant to go someday. As immortal soul, the destiny of our journey will always be from here to eternity,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

An Interview with Dr Brian Weiss

Having accidentally encountered past lives and reincarnation, Dr Brian Weiss took time to accept what came to pass. He went on to research many such mystical and religious ideas, turning him into a doctor who has got enlightened. An interview with the author of bestselling books such as Many Lives, Many Masters, excerpted from Voices of Truth (Full Circle)

Treating patients by guiding them through recollections of their previous lives is just about the last thing Dr Brian Weiss thought he would be doing.

A prominent South Florida psychiatrist, before the age of 35 he was the first Chief of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and a professor at the University of Miami's medical school. He was publishing papers and becoming a nationally recognised expert on psychopharmacology and considered himself the kind of guy who rarely gave much thought to anything mystical, philosophical or spiritual.

One patient changed all that. Weiss calls her Catherine in his first best-selling book, Many Lives, Many Masters (1988), eight years after he began treating the young woman.

He had been using routine psychotherapy to treat her and after 18 months with little improvement, Weiss finally put it very simply to her one day while she was under hypnosis: "Go back to the time from which your symptoms arise." She did.

Back to the year 1863 BC when she was a 25-year-old named Aronda. Since treating Catherine, he has researched reincarnation, Eastern religions, mysticism, quantum physics, intuition and everything in between. He exudes an air of wise counsel, but does not come across as some kind of guru.

Much to his surprise, Weiss's work has been taken seriously by many in the medical community.

Shortly after his first book was published, the former president of the Dade County Psychological Association said: "Those of us who do hypnosis are not all that shocked by Dr Weiss's book. Many have had patients who have gone back to something-I'm not prepared to say it was a previous life. I think we are very interested and very afraid to talk about it…"

Weiss says his work on past life therapy has helped not only his patients and readers, it has also helped him. It has led him to explore a great body of knowledge, and to look inward as well. The following has been excerpted from Nina Diamond's Voices of Truth-Conversations with Scientists, Thinkers and Healers.

Are we just vessels that hold the soul?

Dr Brian Weiss: Yes, exactly. We are vessels, and we contain this eternal and immortal, much more knowledgeable part of ourselves. Now, probably as you get more mystical you find out that these souls, as well as the bodies, are connected to everyone else's, because really everything is of the same substance.

Why do people find reincarnation a difficult concept to accept?

People fear the unfamiliar. If only they would keep an open mind. Not just scientists, but everybody. Just observe it, watch it. Meditation can teach people to do that. If they can let go of their fears.

Philosophers and mystics once incorporated reincarnation into their explanations of life, and Plato wrote about soulmates.

Yes, Plato wrote about reincarnation. So, the Greeks believed in this too. And so did ancient civilizations.

Reincarnation is in all religions. Where did this knowledge come from?

It comes from so far back that we don't even know where it comes from. We only lost it recently. I think we lost it for political reasons.

In Judaism, belief in reincarnation or gilgul is not just ancient, but existed until early in the 1800s, and it was only with the migration out of Eastern Europe to the West, and the Age of Enlightenment and science, and the need to be accepted, that the belief went underground.

But not in the Chassidic (Ultra-Orthodox) populations. They still believe in reincarnation. In Christianity it went underground much earlier, in the 6th century at the Second Council of Constantinople where reincarnation was officially declared a heresy.

Christianity was becoming a state religion, and the Romans felt that without the whip of Judgement Day people wouldn't behave, they wouldn't follow.

They would think: "Well, I'll do it next time around." And so reincarnation was consciously made a heresy. But this was at the Council, centuries after Jesus.

How is the time period between lifetimes determined?

People who die violently, or children who die, often come back faster. And people who live longer lives, and die more peacefully, there can be a much longer time between lives, a hundred years or more.

How many past lives do people generally have?

That varies, but the numbers that come up most (in my work) is about 100. Not the thousands and thousands that the Buddhists talk about.

Is there a finite number of souls?

To me it doesn't matter because ultimately we're all connected.

Are new souls being created?

I'm not sure, but my inclination is to say no. We're probably all ageless and have been (around from the beginning).

Are families more spiritually connected from life to life than strangers are?

Yes, and I do think that people come in groups for the working out of debts and responsibilities, the concept of karma. These are the people that we're learning and growing with. I even put love at first sight, or hostility at first sight into that category, a recognition of souls.

I know the old saying: blood is thicker than water. Well, I mention in Through Time into Healing that spirit seems thicker than blood.

So people can be male in one lifetime and female in another, and vice versa?

Yes, there seems to be frequent switching. You may have a preference, but you've tried out the other to see what it's like. This is also true of races and religions.

How do you explain souls that occupy bodies that are biologically damaged?

If this is all to learn-and this is what my patients keep telling me-to grow, to become more and more Godlike, then whatever experience you have is a learning experience. Sometimes, though, it's a teaching experience as well, so you may come back into this for others, maybe as an act of charity.

How do pre-determination and free will co-exist?

Someone told me this once: Life is like being on a bus. It has a certain pre-determined route. But the person you sit next to, how you act, what you say, that's all the free will part.

Why don't we automatically, consciously remember our past lives?

For one, more and more people are remembering. Through therapeutic techniques such as hypnosis, but also through dreams, spontaneously, through meditation, déjà vu. When they're in a place they have never been before and they know their way around.

This may be an evolutionary shift. I don't know why we don't all remember. The Greeks had a myth that when you were born again you drank from the River of Lethe, so you would forget your previous lives.

So you think some of us are born with certain values and ideals?

Yes, that's the whole purpose. That it gets ingrained at a deeper level. At the level of the heart and the soul-where the real learning takes place so that you're not dependent just on what your parents teach you.

If one's parents were bigots, and the child is able to overcome that, this is a degree of independence that transcends what we're taught.

This is your soul saying: "You know it's not right to be a bigot, despite what your parents, what the church or temple is telling you. You know better. Follow your heart." And when you're doing that, you've really learnt it. This is the soul memory.

When we're 'out there', will we be with all the people we knew here?

I think so, and even with those who are still here. The vision is better coming from the other direction. They're aware of more because they are not limited by a body and the brain. But we are.

What's the state of reincarnation research today?

There are physicians doing this. Raymond Moody, the psychiatrist who coined the phrase Near Death Experience, is now writing about his research with past life therapy. Then there's the Association of Past Life Reaserch and Therapy (APRT). They publish a journal. It's a mixed group, so it's hard to characterize them as representative of the scientific community.

How can reincarnation be validated? Do you look for supporting information?

It's difficult to prove reincarnation scientifically because of what we consider scientific. As a psychiatrist I'm interested in my patients' clinical improvement, in their welfare, so I look at two levels: of therapy and helping people, and then the other level, that of validating, or proving. Both are vital.

But I function more these days at the therapeutic level. There's no question in my mind, or in the minds of all of these physicians and psychotherapists who are writing to me, that this has a therapeutic effect. It's quick, it's vivid, it's relatively inexpensive, and people get better.

Physicists are now researching how one subatomic particle/wave in one location senses instantaneously what's happening to another one. Is it similar to psychic phenomena?

Yes, and physicists have proof that these particles exist, that they travel at the speed of light, and time is relative, and can stop. It's just that we have difficulty in letting go (of our old concepts).

If I told you that you're really, physically, a mass of electrons, protons and neutrons and energy, and wave/particle phenomena, you would say, "but I'm solid", and I would say, "yes, but that's not really true, because at a deeper level you're energy".

Scientists talk about things being connected at a sub-atomic level-what we would consider ESP-between these subatomic particles. Since we and everything in the universe are made up of these, does this explain how people can have 'paranormal' abilities?

Yes, that summarises the millennia of mystical knowledge, and solves the problems of the universe! It's true. We need to develop the skills. How to do this, how to be aware. Mystics have always been saying that there is no time, it just appears that way to us.

And when you start talking about other states, there is no space, there is no time. It's all happening now. This is our conception of God and of nature beyond the three-dimensional. That's the fascinating correlation that physics is starting to prove.

In mystical Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, this is all part of the esoteric tradition: There is not time, no space, we're all connected.

Do you believe that physicists will find that science, mysticism, spirituality, religion and parapsychology are connected through quantum physics?

Physicists are the mystics of the 21st century. They've begun to study consciousness, time moving backwards, all of these phenomena that were called occult or esoteric. I believe they'll be found to have their roots in nature, in science.

As we begin to use more of our brains through meditation and other ways, we're going to find that these things do have their basis in science, in nature. To discover the truth you have to throw out your old assumptions and old knowledge.

You wrote in Many Lives… that the most important lesson you learned with past life therapy is that there is no death. How has this changed your life, and how can this change everybody's life?

When you stop fearing death you start to live more. What I value now that I perhaps didn't value as much before are love, relationships, family-not just in the genetic sense, but in the larger sense. And what I value less now are material things. You can't take it with you. That's a cliché, but it's true.

How do our past life experiences and relationships affect our present life?

They affect us in every way. Many of your most meaningful relationships are not new. That's how you connect. Past lives also affect us in symptoms, both emotional and physical. Certain fears and anxieties carry over. Physical symptoms, where one may have been wounded or hurt in a previous life frequently come up. It affects us psychologically, emotionally, even in obesity.

Have you had patients who, while reliving a past life under hypnosis, had detailed/technical knowledge about something they know nothing about in this life?

Yes, that happens a lot. One of Dr Jarmon's cases is one of the best. A woman was seeing him for hypnotherapy for weight loss. He didn't believe in past lives. This was his first case (of past lives), and it happened spontaneously.

A Jewish woman in her 30s, she started to develop a new symptom while she was visiting him. Her periods had stopped and she developed lower abdominal tenderness, and she was becoming more anxious.

He was alarmed and thought she might have an ectopic pregnancy (in a fallopian tube), which can be dangerous because it can burst. So he referred her to a gynaecologist. She tested negative.

But she continued to see Dr Jarmon, and they were working on her anxiety, and he said: "Go back to the time from which your symptoms first arose."

His patient went back to the Middle Ages. She was five months pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy. In that life she was Catholic, and she was with a priest who wouldn't allow abortion or surgery, and so she died.

And just before she died she repeated the Catholic act of contrition to the priest, word for word. Dr Jarmon is Catholic and recognized it. It's what Catholics say to atone for their sins.

The Jewish woman had never heard of contrition. This happens all the time, but again, it's hard to prove because you can say they probably read this in school, picked up a book or learned this while they were overseas.

If we can go back to past lives, can we go forward to future ones?

There are people who are doing this work, such as Chet Snow, the president of the APRT Society. I haven't found it, and probably the reason is I'm not looking for it.

Many look at God as a force outside the universe that regulates everything.

Instead of within. I say: "Why limit God?" Perhaps God can listen to all of our prayers, all at the same time and pay infinite attention to it, because God isn't a human being.

So, you're saying that if there are an infinite number of possibilities, then nothing is impossible, and therefore, God can be everywhere.

Yes, and we can all be part of God, and yet be separate, in our own perspective. But we are all connected.

So, if we're all connected to everything, then by definition aren't we connected to God, too, since God, or a higher being, created all of this?

Yes. Now you're approaching my very simplistic way of viewing everything. That God-love-is an energy that is in everything. Intelligence, wisdom, love, compassion and more-that's all we're made of.

Tell us about your past lives.

The first time I remembered was during an acupressure massage for an old neck injury that was flaring up. At that point, Many Lives… had been written, but wasn't published yet.

And I wasn't telling a soul. I was afraid for my reputation and career. So I mentioned nothing to the therapist. I would go into this very relaxed, almost meditative state, and during the third or fourth one-hour session I saw this image.

It was me, taller, thin, wearing a multi-coloured robe, standing in a large geometric shaped building. I knew I was a priest of some sort, very powerful, with the ear of the royal family. I had some psychic abilities in that life, too.

And I was misusing it to gain more power, sex, greed, things like that. It was a very good life! Very easy, but wasted. The word ziggurat kept ringing in my head. I had no conscious memory of ever coming across that word.

It doesn't prove that I didn't, in college or something, but I didn't remember it. I didn't say anything to the therapist, went home and looked up ziggurat. It's a word for architectural structures, temples of the Babylonian era, like the hanging gardens of Babylon.

I had another experience years later. I had this dream of being imprisoned in a European dungeon, my arm chained to the wall. I was being tortured for teaching about my religious beliefs, which included reincarnation. And I died there.

I became aware, as I died, of a message: "When you had the chance to teach it, you did not." I knew that was referring back to that episode with the ziggurat. "When you didn't have the chance, you did."

And I knew that meant that I should have taught about love. I didn't have to teach about reincarnation and get killed for it. I went too far. The implication was: "Now you can have both. You have the chance, and you can teach about it." It's as if those two were the important past lives.

Who are The Masters?

This is what Catherine described as the source of the information coming to her. She would hear them, and then tell me. But she had no memory of it when she woke up.

When she was in-between remembering past lives she would go into this state. She said this was coming from the master spirits, The Masters. And out came knowledge that was very unlike her. Even the phonetics, grammar and style were different.

And she wasn't an actress, a multiple personality or schizophrenic. I've had other patients tell me things-it's coming from a more pure source that's not contaminated by our brains. I've had much contact with The Masters, but they're not identifying themselves by that name anymore.

What do you think of other alternative physical and mental therapies?

I do feel that there may be validity to many of these approaches and we need to study these. That's why I was heartened to see that the National Institutes of Health created a division that deals with alternative and holistic approaches. The government is funding and supporting this. There's a tremendous amount to gain, both in healing and direct physical and mental health.
Extracted with permission from Voices of Truth, by Nina L. Diamond, Full Circle.
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Friday, October 21, 2005

No If or But

AAMI has recently reported that there has been an increase in “road rage” here in Australia. According to the expert who was interviewed in the news, the cause can be attributed to the increase in traffic congestion and the drivers are running out of patience. In the same news broadcast that evening in the Radio ABC News, it was reported that there has been a rise in parent abuse involving children “bullying” their elderly parents into “rearranging” the parents’ financial affairs to benefit the children. Experts are urging the victims to seek legal protection… Now, these are hardly earth shattering news. The initial impression is that road rage and parent abuse would appear to be the logical conclusions to our go-faster, I-want-it-now life style which we have created for ourselves, and we talk about patience, tolerance or greed among others as immediate causes. But then I begin to wonder if these are really the culprits. The question is: what makes the same person patient/impatient, tolerant/intolerant, and greedy/generous? Is there a common thread that strings them all together? Well, there is. The word “Respect” pops into my mind. I hate “lecturing”, but this has been nagging me for some weeks now, so I am putting it in writing if just to get some decent sleep.

How often have we heard the expression, “If you want my respect, you have to earn it.”? I have said it myself a few times in my life, and to the people I didn’t particular like at the time. It was especially cool to say it behind the back of your new boss. But what did I mean when I said, “You have to earn it.”? Now that I have had time to think over it, I guess what I really wanted to say was this, “You have to do exactly what I think you should do.” In other words, I was prescribing a set of behaviors that I deemed acceptable to me in order for me to respect you, which meant that I was imposing my preconceived conditions on our relationship. The devil didn’t make me say it. What seduced me into saying it was that it sounded so good and proper at the time that I didn’t really bother to think about the underlying meaning of the expression. Now I know better.

No one has to earn his or her respect. It comes with you as a being, not more or not less than any another being, whether you are rich or poor, weak or strong, young or old, black, white, yellow or brown. You earn your esteem, your fame, your high praises, for which you work hard. Respect is something intrinsic, it comes fundamentally with you at your birth. It defines the limit that we set ourselves when we interact with others. There is a limit to what we can do and say; we do not impose our will on others out of respect, and that goes beyond mere courtesy

In exercising your free will, you may choose to be whom and what you want to be, I would respect your choice, even if I disagree with the path you have chosen. Who am I to intervene in whatever lessons you need to take in your life? If you ask me for some advice I would be glad to tell you what I think, but you do not need my approval. Just respect what I have to say, as I respect what you have to do. The questions you may like to consider are: Are you fulfilling your inner urge? Is what you are becoming enriching your inner soul? Are you at peace with your inner self in doing the things that you choose to do? There must be a reason for you to act in a certain way, and I respect that. It therefore makes no impact on me whether you want to spray-paint my white fence with your tag, tailgate me down the busy road with your horn blasting, or threaten me with violence if I don’t sign over my property to you, none whatsoever, if you think your choice of action fulfils your urge and enrich your inner soul. Just remember, you alone have to accept the full responsibility for the choice you make, and account for the action you take, no one else, even if in the process you have shown a remarkable lack of respect for me or my property.

I maybe naïve or simplistic, but somehow I feel that there would be less conflicts and damages if people show respect for one another. If you respect other drivers on the road, you would not expect them to drive the way you do; if children respect their elderly parents, they would not force them to do things they do not wish to do; if a vandal respect my property, he would not choose to spray-paint his tag on it. Imagine what it would be like in a grand scale: if a culture shows its respect for another culture, a religion for another religion, and a nation for another nation. Not everyone thinks or acts like you, it would be totally pointless to judge others or expect others to behave in accordance with your standard or believes in order for you to respect them. In this regards, respect is unconditional, no if or but.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I Know It's True

GARY E. SCHWARTZ, Ph.D. is professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona and director of its Human Energy Systems Laboratory. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard University, he served as a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale University, director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, and co-director of the Yale Behavioral Medicine Clinic. He has published more than four hundred scientific papers, edited eleven academic books, and is the co-author, with Linda G. Russek, Ph.D., of The Living Energy Universe.

In his book, “The Afterlife Experiments” (Atria Books, 2002), Professor Schwartz (website) revealed his deep-seated fear of being labeled as a nutcase for his fascination in the survival of consciousness after death. Being an eminent scientist, it’s understandable that he has his reputation to safeguard, and the only way he could counter the laughingstock syndrome was to come up with several watertight experimental designs to convert the intangible “knowledge” into hard data. In one of the early pages, which I found inspiring, he has this to say :

Some years after that memorable trip to Vancouver, when I set out to help Linda conduct research about the possibility of contacting her father (deceased – author’s note), we were undertaking an exploration that is suspect to most scientists but is, for creative people, a subject of intense fascination, One exploration of the topic lives vividly in my memory. The movie Contact, based on the book by Carl Sagan, provokes the mind as it pulls on the heart. One scene in particular expresses the challenge of documenting scientifically the existence of the seemingly ineffable. And it speaks to the challenge of envisioning and researching the existence of what can be called living energy souls – or, more simply, living souls.

Midway through the movie we see a scientist, Dr. Ellie Arroway, explaining to the spiritual scholar Palmer Joss, a man of faith, that she requires scientific evidence in order to believe. Dr Arroway is especially adamant about the necessity of compelling evidence when it comes to belief in the existence of God.

I understood the Dr. Arroway character well because I was trained to look at the world as an intellectual, a scientist. In science we hypothesize, we do not believe. And science ultimately does not establish “proof” so much as provide evidence for or against a hypothesis. I learned the philosophy and methods of science effectively and have taught them for years, so I empathized with Dr Arroway’s position.

As the scene progresses the spiritual scholar asks Dr Arroway, “ Did you love your father?”

Arroway pauses, and then answers, “Yes.”

Palmer Joss tosses a challenge, simple and to the point: “Prove it.”

Dr. Arroway is speechless. How can she document her love with scientific evidence? Does she need scientific data to prove to herself? And how can she convince the scientific community that what she knows in the deepest recesses of her heart, through direct personal experience, is in fact true – that her love for her father is real?

Think about it.

How can you prove to anyone that you love your husband or wife, a child, a friend, a pet? Not by what you say – people often lie to protect themselves or others. Not by what you do – we all do some things because they’re expected of us rather than because we truly want to do them.

What Reverend Joss Palmer was teaching Dr. Arrowway was that there is no substitute for having the experience of love – or, for that matter, any other experience. One must ultimately have the experience for oneself. Everything else is indirect – a process of inference, of interpretation.

There are things in nature that we can see, touch, hear, taste, and smell and know that they are there. There are also things in nature that we cannot experience with our normal five senses but somehow we know that they are there. I am sure we all have experienced some “weird” things in our lifetime, if you care to dig deep into your memory bank.

To embrace the intangible, you only have to leave your measuring tools behind and open your mind totally. To know is to experience personally. I don’t need to find explanations for my experience, nor do I need to prove it to anyone, to put it simply: I believe it because I know it’s true.