“Of all the men we meet with, nine parts of ten are what they are, good or evil, useful or not, by their education”. (Locke 1695)
Education is the transference of knowledge, traditions, skills and abilities, and through it society develops and grows as part of the evolutionary process. We emerge from one age to another looking back in amazement at what we held as true, taking comfort in our feelings of superiority, little realising that as we found our ancestors lacking, so will our decedents as they measure our development by their own standards, and find us wanting.
Since life means growth, a living creature lives as truly and positively at one stage as at another with the same intrinsic fullness and the same absolute claims. Hence education means the enterprise of supplying the conditions which ensure growth, or adequacy of life, irrespective of age. (Dewey 1916)
Knowledge “involves the provision of those conditions that directly promote effective learning”. (Curzon¹ 1997, p.121) Part of this requires us to question the old as well as the new; in challenging what we assume to be true, our preconceived ideas, and the origins of our beliefs, we create the opportunity to recognize and accept new truths and new beliefs. This community of enquiry provides teacher student and impartial observer with an open forum to search for and voice their objective truth, to challenge, and be challenged in a controlled and safe environment, to establish the authenticity of their own learning.
It provides me as a teacher with the opportunity to challenge my own beliefs and pre-conceived ideas in such a way as to encourage my learners, peers and you the reader to question the basis of your own beliefs, and the fears that may arise from those beliefs being challenged. “Learning depends on the individual’s experiences within, for example, his or her family, social environment and, more specifically, the educational institutions they attend”. (Curzon² 1997, p.95)
As a Reiki teacher practitioner, part of my educational remit is to train students who wish to complete their Reiki training and in some cases go on to achieve teacher status themselves. This requires an in depth knowledge of this particular discipline and how it relates to other therapies, coupled with the ability and experience to deliver sometimes complex esoteric subjects in a way that makes them accessible and easier to understand. Collins defines esoteric as: “not open, private and difficult to understand, restricted to or intended for an enlightened or initiated minority”. (Collins¹ 2001, p. 491)
None of which is protection from my learner’s determination to seek out the truth, and challenge me to authenticate what I teach. Complementary therapies provide the teacher and learner alike with the opportunity to examine a wide range of issues that challenge the established views of illness, dis-ease, life death and beyond, and afford ample scope for discussion and lively debate. It’s from this desire for objective truth and authenticity based on open communication, that this community of enquiry seems the most natural form of research and reference for this discussion.
To search for one’s objective truth it’s vital to move away from hearsay, supposition and folklore, and provide where possible research based data, as well as experiential evidence that supports our objectivity. To ensure this we must where necessary, validate our teaching, and be prepared to analyse and critically evaluate those findings, and be willing to change our beliefs and teaching practice’s if the evidence and facts demand it. Our ancestors believed amongst other things that the earth was flat and that illness and disease were punishments from God, but we now know that these two suppositions were based on ignorance and fear, lacking in knowledge and understanding. Knowledge and understanding lie beyond what we already know and accept as true, we must look beyond myths, legends and limiting beliefs to search out the truth, no matter how strange it may first appear or how uncomfortable it makes us feel as we move out of our comfort zone and into the realms of the new and unknown. This is a journey of discovery to find the holy grail of truth, or a poison chalice of ignorance and fear.
The miraculous are events that lie outside the limits of our knowledge and understanding; when we expand the sum total of our knowledge and understanding what was once seen as miracles becomes a technology that can be reproduced to enhance our development and quality of life. (Robbins 1993,)
A belief is “a feeling of certainty”. (Collins³ 2001, p.131) When we examine these feelings of certainty we discover that they can be learned in the same way we acquire any other form of information. Through peer group or social pressure that determines what is right, or socially acceptable or like a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation. “In numerous ways each and every one of us attempts to discern patterns or shapes in seemingly unconnected events in order to better grasp their significance in our lives”. (Cohen et al., 2001, p.3)
My own search for objective truth demands that I examine and challenge my own beliefs before I assume to influence others. Not only must I be willing to challenge the authenticity and validity of what I teach, I must have the courage of my convictions and be prepared to substantiate these before my learners and peers, resisting the temptation to go for the easy option of a belief that’s easy to defend. Which leads me to ask the most challenging of questions? When we are faced with evidence of spirit assisted healing and survival after death how can we reconcile these experiences if they appear to contradict existing scientific thinking?
A problem teachers can face is their objectivity when researching their chosen field and this can be compounded when their own personal experiences impact on their research. “Some deny the possibility of objective study, and argue that all research is inescapably subjective; others maintain the contrary – that is, that the proper quest of social scientific research is objective truth”. (Woods 1996, p.54)
“Experience is direct personal participation or observation in or of an event”. (Collins4 2001, p.507) If, as in the original question we have no personal experience of survival after death we will find it difficult if not impossible to believe in the existence of anything after the physical body dies. If however, an element of doubt is introduced into our thought processes we can begin to question our beliefs prior to them being changed through a greater level of understanding. The ability to think is an integral part of the reasoning process, but thinking alone won’t necessarily bring about a quantum leap in understanding or acceptance of a new idea or belief.
If we examine what happens when we think, it looks as if thinking is a matter of consciously considering what there is in our minds: and what there is in our minds is the sum total of what we have experienced [in the past]. So thinking seems to be a matter of brining our memories [or old beliefs] to bear upon the present. (Sotto 1995, p.47)
Rational discussion, deduction and judgement demand consideration and evaluation of all of the evidence new and old, rather than rejection or dismissal based on personal dogma or social conditioning. Reason is the “faculty of rational argument, deduction and judgement” (Collins 5 2001, p.1249) and our ability to reason is defined by our intellectual capacity and to a greater degree our collective knowledge and understanding, “the power which enables the mind to grasp reality”. (Cicero no date) The ability to reason requires us to understand the concept of reasoning and be willing to “open our minds enough to accept new truths, which is the basis of all personal, educational and social development”. (Emerson no date)
To fully answer the question that forms the basis of this discussion we also need to examine the development of science and religion that defines our world, its strengths, and its limitations in dealing with anything that falls outside the parameters of our five senses, and the “technological and theological adolescence that fails to recognise and accept anything that lies outside of its own realms of expertise”. (Braden¹ 1995,) “All new discoveries go through the same evolutionary process of indifference, scepticism, hostility and resistance, before finally being accepted as the norm”. (Einstein¹ 1984,)
Historically our knowledge and understanding comes from the sciences and the church, yet both provide us with an incomplete and in some cases inaccurate records. Two events changed the direction of our social and scientific development, and formed the basis of what we accept as religious and scientific fact today.
The fourth century AD saw the first Council of Rome in Niecea formalise Christianity; Jesus Christ was officially confirmed as the son of God, 44 books were removed from the collective works known as the Bible along with all references to spiritual healing, reincarnation, Angels and spirit guides, life after death and reincarnation. “What remained was condensed and presented to the Christian world as the authorised version of events; those who rejected this version faced punishment and banishment for blasphemy and insurrection”. (Braden² 1995,)
During the same period the great Library of Alexandria was ransacked and razed to the ground with over 500,000 scrolls and parchments containing detailed records destroyed. This library was the depository of all known recorded knowledge and wisdom of the time, its destruction changed the direction of social development and created “a scientific, academic and social ‘black hole’ through which vast quantities of knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities were lost”. (Braden³ 1995,)
The maxim of science is: accept no one’s word for it, and the church’s word is Gospel yet we take science and the church’s word on reality and morality without question. It is said that science and religion are mighty because they are right, but should we not ask ourselves; “Is science and religion right because they are mighty”. Before we blindly accept social and religious dogma as our own we should first carefully consider that:
The more man clings to religion, the more he believes. The more he believes, the less he knows. The less he knows the more stupid he is. The more stupid, the easier he can be governed! The easier to govern, the better he may be exploited. The more exploited, the poorer he gets. The poorer he gets, the richer and mightier the domineering classes get, the more riches and power they amass, the heavier their yoke upon the neck of the people. (Most 1846-1906)
The twenty first century of quantum physics and super string theories mathematically prove we live in a multi dimensional world, yet some still hold the belief that if a thing can’t be seen, measured and duplicated it can’t exist. Some elements of our religious and political establishment invest heavily in the perpetuation of this doctrine and dogma, but thanks to the emergence of quantum physics and quantum mechanics, science has begun to accept a universe made up solely of energy that lies beyond the range of our physical senses. “A universe that we are a part of that is energy in nature, defined by and through vibration, a non local energy that exists everywhere all of the time that is referred to by some scientists as the Quantum Hologram, and the Mind of God by others”. (Braden³ 1995)
Thus recognising and accepting that: “matter as we understand it doesn’t exist in the way we think it does”. (Planck 1907) Through the study of quantum physics and quantum mechanics, physicists such as Niels Bohr’s have proven mathematically (a prerequisite for scientific validation) that quantum wave and particles allow for separate dimensions (realities) to exist in the same time and space, separated only by the shape and vibration of their energetic blueprint. In his book “The Roots of Coincidence” Koestler shows that: “Science had discovered something in the building blocks of nature that started to give a rational explanation accounting for the millions of reports from people who say they saw a ghost walk through a solid wall”. (Koestler 1972, p.7)
So what was this ‘something’ that science had discovered that could validate the survivalist’s claim that spirit is a reality, our mind and brain are separate entities and that we all survive death, and why it has been kept out of the public domain?
In 1874 Sir William Crookes FRS (1832-1919) and Sir Oliver Lodge FRS (1851-1940) published the results of scientific experiments into survival after death in the leading scientific journal of its day: The Quarterly Journal of Science. Crookes and Lodge’s credentials made them leaders in their field and the success of their experiments resulted in Crookes being knighted, awarded the Order of Merit and made President of the Royal Society. The rigor and authenticity of these experiments were beyond reproach, and were repeated over a hundred times under laboratory conditions by teams of international scientists who were able to duplicate their results. The people who materialised throughout these experiments conversed freely with the scientists, answering questions as a means of validation, witnesses were able to positively identify them as deceased members of their families, and on one occasion fingerprints were taken as a means of confirming a deceased person’s identity. Following the success of the experiments the French Nobel Laureate for medical science went on record as saying: “There is ample proof that experimental materialisations should definitely rank as a scientific fact”. (Richet in Roll 2003, p.6)
However not everyone was happy with Crookes and Lodge’s work; the church believed that it undermined their position of authority in all things spiritual, but were powerless to do anything because of Crookes social standing and royal patronage. His death however in 1919 changed all of that. Following his death with the help of the church leading figures of the establishment set about a systematic assassination of his character and the discrediting of his life’s work “It is the consensus of opinion amongst knowledgeable students in this matter that Crookes was sexually infatuated with the medium he worked with” (Canon Michael Perry, 1984) which continues up to the present time. The lack of public knowledge and understanding of this ground breaking work is testament to the success of those who don’t want the public to have access to this evidence of survival after death regardless of faith or religion. This scientific conspiracy is encapsulated in this statement by Adrian Berry, the Science Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph: “Few subjects more infuriate scientists than claims of paranormal phenomena because, if confirmed; the whole fabric of science would be threatened”. (Berry 1994)
However not every scientist supports the work of Crookes and Lodge. Physicist and spokesperson for the traditional (orthodox) scientific fraternity Dr S Blackmore, is on record as saying: “survival after death is a medical and scientific impossibility. The person’s brain and their consciousness are one and the same, when a person’s brain dies so does their consciousness, so there can be no life after death”. (Blackmore as quoted by Roll¹ 2003) Yet more and more evidence is emerging through the work of physicists such as Brian Josephson Nobel Laureate at Cambridge University, that “consciousness exists beyond the physical body and is more than just a neurological function of the brain”. (Josephson 2004).
If we required further proof of this collaboration between science and religion to control what we think and believe we need look no further than a conversation between eminent physicist Professor Stephen Hawking and the late Pope John Paul (1978-2005). When Hawking appeared on television following his audience with the Pope, he recounted the conversation where the Pope had said to him: “I do not care what you do with your scientific research just so long as you do not encroach on my subject of life after death”. (Pope John Paul 2nd, no date) “Here we have a clear case of the religionists and materialists working together to control the scientific investigation and validation of survival after death”. (Roll² 2003, p. 11) Most recently when challenged on this matter the Royal Society issued a statement to the effect that: “The Royal Society has a policy agreeing with the church never to meddle in the subject of life after death”. (Roll³ 2003, p .11)
In his critically acclaimed television series on astronomy ‘Cosmos’ historian and presenter Carl Sagan stated that: “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, [education] it has no place in the endeavour of science”. (Sagan 1980) Legally the evidence for survival after death is just as strong and compelling. In an effort to provide sustainable proof that would withstand scrutiny and cross examination, Lawyer and author Victor Zammit was able to prove under the rules of jurisprudence that “survival after death is a reality that can be proven beyond doubt in a court of law”. (Zammit 1998, p.8)
My own experiences are no less valid despite their lack of scientific data or legal standing to give them credence in the eyes of those who would dismiss them out of hand. On reflection I have spent a great deal of my life around spirit (non physical energy forms) from childhood into adulthood. My childhood experiences were unsubstantiated due to the lack of openness on my part, and the lack of knowledgeable people around to explain what was happening. More recently the experience of sharing my home with a seven year spirit called Sarah who has lived with my wife Denise and her family for nearly 20 years. Family members including my 10 year old grandson are able to describe what Sarah looks like and recount their conversations, and visitors to our home have met and spoken to Sarah without realising who and what she is.
Spirit regularly ‘attended’ my Reiki training sessions to help my students, or just to assist me with the teaching of the class. The latter phenomena have been witnessed by countless students, who were able to describe and authenticate the identity of the spirit that appeared at various times. Those who have experienced spirit believe no further proof is required; and those who haven’t, remain steadfastly sceptical. The problem we face is that all proof must be filtered through our belief system in order be accepted or rejected. The evidence supporting survival after death is growing steadily as the boundaries of science are pushed further aside to uncover the truth hidden by a lack of knowledge and understanding on our part, and a desire to control what we think and believe by elements of the establishment. Knowledge is power and those who control and disseminate that knowledge ultimately control the direction of society’s development and growth.
We have seen how legitimate and sustainable scientific research into our survival after death has been discredited along with the character and reputations of those who would challenge the status quo, and introduce new truths into the public domain. We must ask ourselves what could generate such fear and a desire to suppress the truth. The answer is that those who suppress the truth do so in order to suppress their own fear and inadequacy, and maintain the illusion of authority and authenticity of their own power. Science and religion have long held a position of supremacy in the realms of morality and the truth, and neither will relinquish it or acknowledge a higher or more enlightened power without a fight, no matter how spiritual or enlightened it may be.
We are fortunate that a new breed of scientist is ready to challenge the establishment in a way that the general public would find impossible to do, this coupled with a change in peoples beliefs in the God given authority of the churches right to decide what we must believe is leading to a new age of openness and a questioning of established truths.
We have looked at the different elements of experience, reasoning and research, and the influences of the scientific and religious establishment on our beliefs, history, and education in order to maintain their power and control. Education is about empowering the learner to ask questions and to challenge the new as well as the old in order to seek out truth no matter where it’s hidden or how strange or uncomfortable it may first appear. If our beliefs and experiences challenge the established ‘wisdom’ of the day then as educators/teachers/healers we must be prepared to examine vigorously all aspects of our knowledge in order to discover our objective truth in what we teach and believe. Development requires us to change and grow; and part of that growth means that sooner or later we will have to let go of things that that are proven no longer to be true, or no longer support who we wish to become.
As an individual I am sure of my own experiences, but as a teacher I must be sure to the best of my knowledge and understanding the authenticity and validity of what I teach, and be willing to hold up my beliefs and experiences to the cold light of critical enquiry, analysis and evaluation, and not just perpetuate myths and legends. After critically evaluating this question I feel I have sufficiently raised the profile of the scientific and experiential evidence that substantiates the reality of survival after death, but what do you think? I challenge you the reader to step out of your comfort zone and seek out your own objective truth, be it factual, experiential or spiritual, not only in relation to this specific question or how spirituality relates to your Reiki practice, but to the comfort you may take from those feelings of certainty you have come to accept immoveable.
Development is fluid and relentless; and like water has the power over time, to change the course of history and that which appears cast in stone. “Now you think I am looking at my life’s work with calm satisfaction. But there is not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will stand firm. I am not sure if I was on the right track after all”. (Einstein² no date)
Phillip Hawkins is a practicing psychic medium. He has been practicing Reiki since 1999, and he’s been a Reiki teacher since 2000. In addition to teaching, when time allows he gives talks and leads discussion groups on the above topics. Applying Reiki on a daily basis has transformed his life and continues to do so as each day brings with it a new and deeper understanding of Reiki and of life. Phillip would like the opportunity to share that knowledge experience with others in an open minded and non judgemental way in a Reiki Rays ‘community of enquiry’.