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The following originally appeared on Venture Forward.
In November 2008, I spent 7 days in coma on a ventilator due to severe gram-negative bacterial meningitis. My doctors concluded that it should have been fatal. The devastation wrought on my neocortex should have disabled all but the most rudimentary of experiences, and yet I had a profound odyssey through ultra-real realms far beyond our physical universe. That experience should have been impossible, given our current neuroscientific ideas of the role of the neocortex in providing detailed conscious experience.
As many who have had near-death experiences will tell you, those experiences are much more real than living in this world. That is a hard concept to convey to people. The good news is this – that realm is accessible to all of us simply by being conscious beings.
We are conscious in spite of our brains. What comes to us as consciousness is actually a meager little trickle of our greater selves, the illusion of “here and now.” Even though this material realm is very much an illusion of time and space, it is the stage on which the drama unfolds. I would say this stage is the reason the whole universe exists. Don’t be misled about its importance when I call it an illusory realm. The thing that truly exists is consciousness, spirit or soul.
Instead of creating consciousness, it is much better to look at the brain as a reducing valve or filter, it filters down our awareness. Paradoxically, damage to the brain can actually allow for enhanced awareness. Due to the state of my brain during my coma journey, it showed that a much grander awareness is possible when freed up from the shackles of the physical brain and body.
In Proof of Heaven, I describe the earthworm’s eye view, the first realm I encountered, as a primitive, underground, murky, coarse, unresponsive realm. I think that’s the best consciousness my brain could muster while it was soaking in pus while the whole neocortex was being destroyed. Prior to my coma, I would have said the next step is obviously one of nothingness, of no awareness at all.
That is why I was shocked to recall that spinning white light, with a perfect musical melody, that approached me and then opened up like a portal into this brilliant, ultra-real valley. This Gateway valley was somewhat earth-like, but a perfect earth – idyllic, absolutely full of life and love. This reality was far richer, purer, cleaner, more colorful, more vibrant and alive, more empathic, more powerful than anything I have ever witnessed here in this material realm.
Beyond that Gateway valley, in the Core realm, there was an incredible sense of Oneness. That realm is formless and timeless, the home of that infinitely powerful unconditional love. So many who have had near death experiences come back and are changed forever. This is one of the main lessons coming to our world now, as we advance and as humanity awakens. I am convinced that we are undergoing an unprecedented shift in human awareness.
Part of the confusion in our modern existence has to do with false boundaries created by the linguistic brain. Before my coma, I might have told you the little voice in the head is consciousness. What I have since learned is that consciousness is the observer. There’s that essential core of us, that divine aware part of us that observes the voice in the head, that is far grander than the part of us that fits in the physical body.
All of us have access to this – you don’t have to almost die to experience it. I came to realize several years after my coma journey that, through meditation, I could return to those realms again and again. There are techniques and tools with tremendous power to assist us. We can tap into that creative well, that infinite knowledge. This can be done through deep meditation, centering prayer, and similar methods. My preferred technique has been through brain entrainment audio technology utilizing differential auditory patterns.
I was thus excited to encounter Karen Newell and Kevin Kossi, co-founders of Sacred Acoustics. Together, we are creating tools so that all can enter that realm, connect with guidance, come to see and know the souls of departed loved ones and beings of divinity beyond anything I could have imagined before my coma.
What I came to see in my journey is that sound, vibration and frequency, were crucial elements in transcending to more expansive spiritual realms. The way that first manifested for me was the beautiful melody that came with the spinning white light, that ushered me from that earthworm’s eye view into that beautiful Gateway valley.
In that heavenly Gateway realm were the angelic choirs – swooping orbs of golden light, leaving sparkling trails against billowing, colorful clouds. Those angelic choirs provided hymns of music far beyond anything I’ve ever encountered on earth. This was a further pathway into unlimited expanding awareness – all accessed through sound and vibration.
In the Core, that deepest sanctum sanctorum of the divine, I heard Om, that indescribable sound or resonance of infinity and eternity – One with that all-loving, all-powerful creative source. Edgar Cayce described the “music of the spheres” as “the voice of nature itself.” Sound was my constant companion while traversing these realms in repeated cycles.
Music, vibration, frequency. That’s why this particular work with Sacred Acoustics is such an important step in bringing tools to assist in humanity’s awakening. To briefly clarify, it’s not just music, or chanting, or pleasing natural sounds – there is something more involved. I was originally attracted to this because of the deep mystery of my odyssey – that my prior neuroscience dictated that the earthworm’s eye view should have been followed by a state of nothingness. However, as my neocortex was being destroyed, it was more like the blinders coming off, an incredible awakening. It allowed me to glimpse the other side of the veil.
The general thinking two years after my coma was that perhaps I could duplicate that effect of the meningitis by using these brain-entraining auditory patterns to synchronize my neocortical electrical activity, in essence to remove its information processing capabilities and set my awareness free. In fact, I found that is exactly what seems to happen.
By presenting slightly different frequencies to the two ears, a neural (timing) circuit in the lower brainstem generates a strong “binaural” beat that is the arithmetic difference between the two input frequencies. This neural circuit (the superior olivary complex, or SOC) is adjacent to a primitive circuit (the reticular activating system, or RAS) that, according to modern neuroscientific ideas about consciousness, is the fundamental timer for binding many separate neural modules, into the “oneness” of conscious perception. This circuit also helps us locate the azimuth of the origin of a sound (the angle left or right relative to our head’s orientation) which helps us place the body within its local environment in 3-dimensional space.
One theory is that the strong beats generated by the different left and right input frequencies to the SOC “entrain” or recruit the predominant timing frequency of the RAS to drive the self-referential thalamocortical loops (the numerous neural bundles between the neocortex [the primary neural calculator in the brain, the part that modern neuroscience says is crucial in providing the details of our rich human consciousness], and the underlying thalamus) and thus engender a dominant frequency of neocortical electrical activity that is directly linked to the differential input to the two ears. This timing circuit is most efficient in generating driving signals in the range of 0.5 up to 25 Hz, or cycles per second.
These concepts are not something you need to understand in order to reap the benefits – it is more important to simply feel the effects while listening to Sacred Acoustics recordings. I believe we are actually freeing up our awareness – liberating it from the shackles of the brain and the mind, which is “dumbed down” on this side of the veil.
My diagnosis (severe bacterial meningitis caused by E. coli, a very rare cause of meningitis in adults) was a perfect model for mimicking human death. Meningitis basically attacks that whole outer surface of the brain, the neocortex, the part that makes us human. All of our human consciousness, everything we see, hear and experience, all of our volition, executive function, everything about human brain function, according to modern neuroscience, is localized in that outer surface.
If you had asked me before my coma, “how much would such a patient experience and remember when their brain is that heavily attacked?” I would have answered, “nothing at all.” That is why my doctors were shocked when, at a point where I was down to a 2 percent chance of survival, I started to come back. Within 3 months, I was fully recovered, in some ways even better than I had been before coma.
It haunted me for more than 3 years to even begin to understand: how did I have such a complete recovery? It defied medical explanation. With such destruction of the neocortex, there was no way for me to have had a dream or hallucination, or drug-effect, to explain my extensive, ultra-real experience. All of those things would have necessitated that at least some part of my neocortex still remained functional. And, yet, that was not the case. I have not been able to explain how that kind of experience could have happened in my physical brain. After extensive analysis, the best explanation is that my experience occurred, but not in my brain, or in the physical universe.
Consciousness creates the entire unfolding universe, at the lowest levels of which lies the physical, material realm. This is where one runs into quite a bit of push back from the conventional scientific community. Reductive materialism (our conventional modern science) says that if you understand everything there is to know about electrons, protons, quarks, photons, sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, cells of the brain, and everything else in this material world, then you can explain all that is, based on that physics, chemistry and biology.
And yet, what my coma journey showed me very clearly is the true nature of our existence. The material world is something that is emergent from that consciousness, soul or spirit. Conventional thinking says that the only way we know anything at all is through our physical senses — eyes, ears, touch, smell and taste, that the sensory pathways are the only real ways of knowing. I have come to realize this is not so. The evidence for non-local consciousness, that we can know things far beyond the ken of our physical senses, is overwhelming. As Edgar Cayce said, “unseen forces are more powerful than those seen.”
We’ve spent more than a hundred years not getting any closer to an explanation for the bizarre, counter-intuitive results of experiments in quantum mechanics, delving into the very structure of physical reality. These experiments suggest that there is something about the observer, about taking a measurement, about the mind, that cannot be separated from what is being observed. Consciousness paints reality. The implications are extreme.
That’s what got my attention after my near-death experience. In a complete reversal of my former world view, I came to see the material realm as the illusion. Time, space, mass, energy – all have to be completely redefined and re-understood because they are not what they appear to be.
By continuing to explore these non-local realms using sound recordings by Sacred Acoustics, I am learning more about the nature of all existence. By creating tools for all to experience, all souls can come to a greater knowing about consciousness – indeed, about all existence – firsthand.