As a species with amnesia about our origins and purpose, questions about our existence plague us constantly and paradigm shifting insights fascinate us. This post from Waking Science turns the spot light on seven truly mind altering things to think about that would transform what it means to be human.
What does it mean to be human? It’s a difficult question to answer. There are so many things which set us apart from one another, yet more still which bind us together, and I think we could all benefit from focusing more on what we share than what we do not. Our differences are important, as they allow each of us to bring something unique to the whole, but it becomes problematic when we use those differences as the basis for judgment, hate, and violence.
We are like a race with amnesia; we seem to know next to nothing about ourselves — our origins, our purpose, or even how we got here in the first place. We still have so many questions that need answering, and while we have created many theories (all with gaping holes), new discoveries are constantly emerging that challenge what we thought we previously knew. And so every now and then, we come to paradigm shifting realizations that alter our perception of what it means to be human, what we are capable of, and what the true nature of reality is.
So it seems we do have one thing in common: Curiosity. We are constantly searching for ‘what is,’ and as the centuries pass, we seem to inch a little closer to understanding it — to understanding ourselves, our world, and what awaits us beyond it.
1. WHAT IF WE ARE NOT ALONE?
The Kepler Space Telescope has shown us that our galaxy alone could hold as many as 30 billion planets similar to Earth. That means there are at least 30 billion planets just in this galaxy which could host lifeforms like the ones we know. Yet we don’t even know with certainty that a planet must be ‘Earth-like’ to host extraterrestrial life. Who knows what other biological organisms are out there and what type of planetary environment they need to survive?
One thing is certain, however: Our discovery of extraterrestrial life is right around the corner. It wasn’t long ago when NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, predicted that we would have “strong indications of life” on other planets by 2025. And just a couple of years ago, two top astronomers from the SETI Institute (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) appeared in front of the Congressional House Science and Technology Committee for a hearing regarding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. They told the committee that extraterrestrial life most certainly exists, without question; one of those scientists is Seth Shostak, a well-known senior scientist at the SETI Institute. They said that the chance of discovering life on other planets is inevitable and will most likely occur within the next 20 years.
Their main argument relates to the sheer size of the universe, emphasizing that there are trillions of stars out there, with one in every five most likely harboring an Earth-like planet. Seth explains:
In the last 50 years, evidence has steadily mounted that the components and conditions we believe necessary for life are common and perhaps ubiquitous in our galaxy,” he said. “The possibility that life has arisen elsewhere, and perhaps evolved intelligence, is plausible and warrants scientific inquiry. . . . If you extrapolate on the planets they discovered, there are a trillion planets in the galaxy. That’s a lot of places for life. We know that the majority of stars have planets . . . [but what] fraction of stars has planets that are more like the earth? It might be one in five. (source)
(Keep in mind that a planet does not necessarily have to be Earth-like to harbour life.)
But what about the other possibility….
“Yes there have been crashed craft, and bodies recovered . . . We are not alone in the universe, they have been coming here for a long time.” – Dr. Edgar Mitchell, ScD, 6th man to walk on the Moon (source) (source)
The other possibility — we’ve already been visited…
“There is a serious possibility that we are being visited and have been visited for many years by people from outer space, from other civilizations [and] it behooves us, in case some of these people in the future or now should turn hostile, to find out who they are, where they come from, and what they want. This should be the subject of rigorous scientific investigation and not the subject of ‘rubishing’ by tabloid newspapers.” (source)
– Lord Admiral Hill-Norton, Former Chief of Defence Staff, 5 Star Admiral of the Royal Navy, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Just as scientists are certain that the discovery of extraterrestrial life will occur within the next couple of decades, others are certain that we have already been visited by intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms, and this is ‘mainstream’ knowledge. John Podesta, for example, the former Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, Councillor to Barrack Obama, and the current head of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has gone on record stating that it’s time to “pull the curtain back on this subject” and that “we have statements from the most credible sources – those in a position to know – about a fascinating phenomenon, the nature of which is yet to be determined.” You can read more about that here. Even Hillary Clinton stated earlier this year that we have have already been visited. You can read more about that here.
“There is another way, whether it’s wormholes or warping space, there’s got to be a way to generate energy so that you can pull it out of the vacuum, and the fact that they’re here shows us that they found a way.” (source) – Jack Kasher, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Nebraska.
Where is this evidence that Dr. O’Leary speaks of?
We’ve written extensively on this subject, and it is backed by many credible sources. You can read some of these heavily sourced articles to learn more:
“Intelligent beings from other star systems have been and are visiting our planet Earth. They are variously referred to as Visitors, Others, Star People, ETs, etc. . . . They are visiting Earth NOW; this is not a matter of conjecture or wistful thinking.” – Theodore C. Loder III, Phd, Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire (source)
2. WHAT IF MOST OF REALITY IS HIDDEN OR AN ILLUSION?
This quote from R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at John Hopkins University, sums up best what many scientists feel:
A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.
– (“The Mental Universe” ; Nature 436:29,2005)
Our universe may be nothing but a mental construction, one that doesn’t even exist until we look at it or ‘measure’ it. The quantum double slit experiment is a great experiment that demonstrates this, showing us how factors associated with consciousness play an imperative role in the creation of our reality. (source)
Australian associate professor Dr. Andrew Truscott recently published a paper in the journal Nature Physics which concluded that “at the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.”(source)
There are several other things to consider here, like dark matter, for example — a substance we can’t see or know that makes up the majority of what we call reality. What about other dimensions that we can’t see? What about other universes? Perhaps one day we will be able to experience these other worlds.
3. WHAT IF WE DISCOVER THAT WE CAN SEE THE FUTURE?
It’s no secret that computers are already producing accurate simulations of future realities. Even quantum physics has shown us that an atom can exist in a state of multiple probabilities until it is observed or measured. Perhaps there are multiple probable timelines for what will happen? Perhaps we will develop machines that will be able to accurately predict the future?
Few people are aware that a number of scholarly articles examining precognition and presentiment that have been published in reputable peer-reviewed journals. For example, a recently published study (meta analysis) in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments regarding this phenomenon which had been conducted by several different laboratories.
These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems to know of an event and can react before it occurs, as evinced by physiological changes in the skin and the cardiopulmonary and nervous systems prior to the event. (source)
It’s important to note that these physiological responses to future events happen on an unconscious level, meaning that the subject (human) is not aware they are taking place. So it is a form of precognition, but not full blown conscious premonitions.
A meta-analysis of forced-choice precognition experiments conducted from 1935-1987 and published inThe Journal of Parapsychology makes a strong case for the validity of human precognition.
For a selected list of downloadable peer-reviewed journal articles reporting studies of psychic phenomena, mostly published in the 21st century, you can click HERE. There is a section specifically for precognition and presentiment.
It’s also noteworthy to mention that in 1999 a statistics professor at UC Irvine published a paper showing that parapsychological experiments have produced much stronger results than the those showing a daily dose of aspirin helps prevent a heart attack. She also showed that these results are much stronger than the research behind various drugs like antiplatelets, for example. This begs the question, why are psi experiments only marginally acknowledged or even known of by the mainstream scientific community if the evidence for ESP (for example) is stronger than that of the effectiveness for the administration of popular drugs?
Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, provides some insight into why this might be the case:
There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.
4. WHAT IF WE CAME FROM SPACE?
This is a theory which remains on the fringe of mainstream science. A number of scientists believe that human life actually originated in outer space, and one of them is leading British scientist Chandra Wickramasinghe. Wickramasinghe is the director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in the U.K.
This astrobiologist believes that the ‘seeds of life’ were brought here from some outside sources, like a comet, and supports this theory with evidence he discovered a couple of years ago with a team of researchers at the School of Mathematics at Cardiff University and from the Medical Research Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka. They found “a microstructure and morphology characteristic of a wide class of terrestrial diatoms.” The group concluded that “the presence of structures of this kind in any extraterrestrial setting could be constructed as unequivocal proof of biology.” Cardiff University was asked to proof-check and analyze the findings, which it did, concluding that the samples were “unequivocally meteorites” and that the analysis of the material structure showed that algae-like fossils were native to it.
This is the first-ever evidence of extraterrestrial life found in a celestial body. The researchers used sophisticated methods like X-ray diffraction, triple oxygen isotope analysis, and scanning electron microscopy.
English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, along with Wickramasinghe, co-developed a theory known as “panspermia,” which suggests that life exists throughout the universe and is distributed by meteoroids and asteroids. It’s a wonderful example of synchronicity that this meteorite happened to fall into their laps, potentially proving their theory correct.
You can read the study here.
He explores this topic in an earlier paper that he co-authored in 2012 titled “Non-terrestrial origin of life: a transformative research paradigm shift” as well. Below is the abstract:
Theories and hypotheses in science are continually subject to verification, critical re-evaluation, revision and indeed evolution, in response to new observations and discoveries. Theories of the origin of life have been more constrained than other scientific theories and hypotheses in this regard, through the force of social and cultural pressures. There has been a tendency to adhere too rigidly to a class of theory that demands a purely terrestrial origin of life. For nearly five decades evidence in favour of a non-terrestrial origin of life and panspermia has accumulated which has not been properly assessed. A point has now been reached that demands the serious attention of biologists to a possibly transformative paradigm shift of the question of the origin of life, with profound implications across many disciplines. (source)
This would be quite the shocker. If we were to determine that we came from space or that we are not alone in the universe, the resulting implications for all fields, from science and technology to religion and philosophy, would be immeasurable.
5. WHAT IF WE LEARN TO TALK TO ANIMALS
The way we treat animals on this planet is heartbreaking, to say the least. Apart from destroying their world for the sake of economic growth, we also raise billions of animals every single year for the purpose of slaughter. We are now starting to see the dramatic consequences of our actions, but more empathy towards animals is still desperately needed. This isn’t just our planet; we share it with others, and all beings deserve an equal chance to live life and thrive.
There are many efforts underway to change things, and consumers are making a difference by voting with their dollars. SeaWorld has seen profits decline dramatically, as multiple areas in North America have now banned whale captivity. And not long ago, a New York court entertained the idea of granting chimpanzees the legal right to personhood. All thought the lawsuit was a failure, but the judge admitted that “efforts to extend legal rights to chimpanzees . . . are understandable; some day they may even succeed.
If this were to happen, I think we would quickly need to reevaluate our stance on the status of other animals. Why should only chimpanzees be granted rights? If animals were ever granted rights and personhood, we would not be able to keep them captive, or use them for testing.
In the August 2015 edition of New Scientist, Joshua Howgego offers his view on the issue:
If chimps were given rights, we might expect other intelligent species, such as killer whales and elephants, to follow. But why stop there? Our ideas about the inner lives of other animals – their capacity for suffering, autonomy and self-awareness – are based largely on analogy with ourselves; how would we like it in their place?
But what if those animals could tell us? What if a dog or dairy cow could let us know how it felt about its lot in life? The idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems. There are many examples of communication between apes and their human keepers. Researchers are busy decoding dolphin. And cognitive scientists are beginning to study emotional states in animals, It may only be a matter of time before more meaningful communication between species is possible.
If we could converse with animals, would we still eat them? What if we discovered that their intellectual ability to communicate, to show empathy, or to feel emotions were equal to ours? What would happen? What would you do? Would you eat something you could have an intellectual conversation with? I have a difficult time believing many people would.
6. WHAT IF WE FOUND OUT THAT ‘LIFE’ GOES ON AFTER ‘DEATH’
Below is a video of Dr. Bruce Greyson speaking at a conference held by the United Nations. Considered to be one of the fathers of near death studies, he is currently a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at the University of Virginia.
In the video he describes documented cases of individuals who were clinically dead (showing no brain activity), but observing everything that was happening to them on the medical table below at the same time. He describes how there have been manyinstances of this – where individuals are able to describe things that should have been impossible to describe. Another significant statement by Dr Greyson posits that doing this type of research has been discouraged due to our tendency to view science as completely materialistic. Seeing is believing, so to speak, in the scientific community. It’s unfortunate that just because we cannot explain something through materialistic means, it must be instantly discredited.
In 2001, international medical journal The Lancet published a 13 year study on Near Death Experiences (NDEs):
Our results show that medical factors cannot account for the occurrence of NDE. All patients had a cardiac arrest, and were clinically dead with unconsciousness resulting from insufficient blood supply to the brain. In those circumstances, the EEG (a measure of brain electrical activity) becomes flat, and if CPR is not started within 5-10 minutes, irreparable damage is done to the brain and the patient will die. (source)(source)
A total of 344 patients was monitored by the team of researchers, and an astounding 18 percent of them had some sort of memory from when they were either dead or unconscious (no brain activity), and 12 percent (1 out of every 8) had a very strong and “deep” experience. Keep in mind that these experiences have occurred when there is no electrical activity in the brain following cardiac arrest.
Another study comes out of the University of Southampton, where scientists found evidence that awareness can continue for at least several minutes after death. In the scientific world this was thought to be impossible. Published in the journal Resuscitation, it is the world’s largest near death experiences study: (source)
In 2008, a large-scale study involving 2060 patients from 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, United States and Austria was launched. The AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study, sponsored by the University of Southampton in the UK, examined the broad range of mental experiences in relation to death. Researchers also tested the validity of conscious experiences using objective markers for the first time in a large study to determine whether claims of awareness compatible with out-of-body experiences correspond with real or hallucinatory events. (source)(source)
Another great example comes from University of Virginia psychiatrist Jim Tucker, who in 2008 published a review of cases suggestive of reincarnation in the journal Explore.(source)
In the article, he describes a typical reincarnation case, where subjects start reporting a past life experience. One common denominator of these cases is that they all involve children, with the average age being 35 months when subjects begin to report their experiences. The experiences reported are often detailed and extensive, and Tucker points out that many of these children show strong emotional involvement when speaking about their claims, with some crying and begging to be taken to what they say is their previous family. Others show intense anger. But as children age, these memories generally disappear. He explains:
The subjects usually stop making their past-life statements by the age of six to seven, and most seem to lose the purported memories. That is the age when children start school and begin having more experiences in the current life, as well as when they tend to lose their early childhood memories. (source)
Some truly mind altering things to thing about..
7. WHAT IF WE ALL HAVE ‘SUPER HUMAN POTENTIAL?’
It’s fascinating to consider just how many ancient teachings tell us that humans have the capacity to gain extraordinary powers through various techniques. In Buddhism, for example, the existence of advanced powers is readily acknowledged; in fact, Buddha expected his disciples to be able to attain these abilities, but also to not become distracted by them.
Is there any scientific evidence that human beings have extraordinary potential beyond what’s commonly known? There definitely is.
During a visit to remote monasteries in the 1980s, Harvard Professor of Medicine Herbert Benson and his team of researchers studied monks living in the Himalayan Mountains who could, by g Tum-mo (a yoga technique), raise the temperatures of their fingers and toes by as much as 17 degrees. It is still unknown how the monks are able to generate such heat. (source)
And it doesn’t stop there — the researchers also studied advanced meditators in Sikkim, India, where they were astonished to find that these monks could lower their metabolism by 64 percent. (source)
What about Wim Hoff? He has demonstrated to scientists that factors associated with consciousness can influence our autonomic nervous system. You can read more about that here.
A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was and is able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock. This is one example of many; you can find the study and read more about it here.
A paper published in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) in September 1981, in the journal Ziran Zazhi (Nature Journal) tilted “Some Experiments on the Transfer of Objects Performed by Unusual Abilities of the Human Body” (Shuhuang et al., 1981), reported that ‘gifted children’ were able to cause the teleportation of small physical objects from one place to another.
There are also some extraordinary claims from a publication titled “Exceptional Functions of the Human Body.” This study reports of highly accurate parapsychological effects, including clairvoyance, psychokinetic effects, and more. (source)
A report published in 2010 by retired research chemist Dong Shen describes an experiment involving mental teleportation of bits of paper out of a sealed plastic film container. What’s even more fascinating is that these methods were taught to others with a success rate of 40 percent.
“It became known to myself, along with several colleagues both inside and outside of government, that anomalous teleportation has been scientifically investigated and separately documented by the Department of Defense.” (source)
I just wanted to illustrate that the idea of ‘superpowers’ is not as farfetched as some may think it is. Who knows, some day we might all be able to do these things.