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Eben Alexander, M.D.

September 24, 2014

Conventional neuroscience posits that the brain creates consciousness. An implicit assumption is that the sheer complexity of the brain somehow creates that consciousness, and yet no neuroscientist on earth has the vaguest notion of how this might occur. Brain and consciousness are clearly interrelated, but the exact nature of their relationship remains obscure.

According to my prior neuroscientific beliefs, my experience deep in a 7-day coma due to severe gram-negative bacterial meningitis should not have allowed for anything but the most meager of experiences – yet a profound, intricate and hyper-real odyssey beyond my wildest imagination ensued. It took me months to realize that the experience could not have happened in my brain, given the destruction of my neocortex (which would have been required to provide any hallucination, dream, confabulation or drug induced experience). My extensive analysis demanded a complete reworking of my world view concerning the Mind-Body debate, the nature of consciousness – indeed the very nature of existence.

My belief before coma, like that of many scientists, was that the brain creates consciousness out of its sheer complexity. Severe meningitis should have disabled all but the most rudimentary of experiences – yet at the depths of my meager consciousness, ravaged by the destruction of my neocortex, it was actually more like “the blinders coming off” – a grand awakening to a much more alive ultra-reality. How did that happen?

Over months of study and reflection after my illness, I came to fully appreciate the most profound enigma known to human thought – the Hard Problem of Consciousness. In brief, it states that no one on earth has the foggiest notion how the physical brain might create consciousness. That combined with the interpretation of quantum mechanics, point to the question of the origin of consciousness, and how it relates to the foundation of our understanding of the nature of reality.

Consciousness is the only thing any one of us truly knows exists. My life’s mission has become the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the nature of consciousness. This is why I have started the Consciousness Initiative, a Serendipity Project of the Marion Institute.

The goal of this initiative is to raise public awareness of the profound mystery of consciousness, as well as to raise funds to support scientific research into this most fundamental of questions. This research should also support the development of tools to help individuals explore their own consciousness much more deeply.

One prime focus of the Consciousness Initiative is to provide Research and Development funding for Sacred Acoustics, the group I participate closely with in developing sound recordings to enhance deep transcendental meditative states (visit sacredacoustics.com). I see development of these tools as crucial in changing our world, by greatly empowering existing meditators and inspiring new meditators towards attaining and sustaining transcendental conscious states.

The truth is, you don’t have to die or almost die to gain access to non-physical realms.These states allow for a richer understanding of who we truly are and offer an opportunity to cultivate an expanded awareness of subtle energies beyond the five physical senses.

It is my sincere hope that through the Marion Institute and the Consciousness Initiative, we will have the opportunity to further our research, our resources and ultimately, our reach.

Learn more about Dr. Alexander here.

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