Mind-Brain Problem | Out-of-Body Experience
By Darryl E Berry Jr | 7/2/20 Updated
The topic is whether a human being is only “stuff” or if there is something beyond the physical components of a human being (Hoofard, 5:40-6:10). The question is: “Do you think that humans have minds/souls distinct from their bodies? Thoroughly explain why or why not” (Hoofard, 1:09:00-1:09:45).
Given my previous writings you may already know where I’m going with this. The question is easily solved for me. I’ve had experiences of being separate from my physical body, as a nonphysical entity that in my experience enters or enmeshes with the physical body during our waking physical states. It/we survive death, and live multiple lifetimes. To me it is an observable and experienceable fact that we have minds or souls or consciousness or what have you, that are vital to yet distinct from our physical bodies.
First, I’ll share an experience of mine. This is an account of my first out-of-body experience:
My First Exit. My introduction to the out-of-body experience occurred quite spontaneously. I hadn’t read anything on the subject, nor seen or heard anything about it. I simply experienced getting up from bed but leaving my physical body behind! One night, when I was 4 or 5 years old, I suddenly felt very heavy and lethargic, and went to lie down in bed. It was earlier than my bedtime, yet later than afternoon – around dusk. I was so lethargic by the time I got to my bed that I had to just plop myself down and pull the covers over me. After some time, I started feeling better, and got up to tell my mother. But I found that my hand went through the doorknob as I tried to open my bedroom door. I looked back to see a lump on the bed under the sheets that I concluded was my physical body. I walked through the door and through the intervening walls into the kitchen, to contact my mother. I tried to yell for help, but no sound came from my mouth. I was able to observe her actions in the kitchen and confirmed her actions later. A few years ago, wanting to confirm my memory of this incident, I asked my mother if she recalled this. She confirmed me as a kid running up to her, telling her of having been “out of my body” (Berry, 19).
This experience, among others, showed me that we exist separate from our physical bodies.
It is of note that I wasn’t introduced to this topic intellectually. It was totally new to me. And no one around me – at least to my awareness – had any awareness of or interest in the topic or experience. This to me supported my experience as being valid and real, rather than something I’d dreamt up because of something told to me, or something I’d read or seen.
To me the experience would be enough. But I understand further reasons may be warranted. And perhaps I should be much more demanding of myself and have a host of reasons for my position. Some might point out that there’s a discernable difference between the physical body/brain and the consciousness/mind, in that I can conceive of the mind/consciousness surviving without the body, but not the brain surviving without the body (Hoofard, Discussions). Simply that it’s conceivable for the one (mind), but not the other (brain), demonstrates some difference between the two (Hoofard, Discussions). Or some might argue that there is some aspect of experiential learning, or qualia, that is different than what can be learned by data acquisition alone (Hoofard, Discussions). Thus, there is some quality or state that is beyond purely physical material; something uniquely a part of awareness or experience itself (Hoofard, Discussions). Yet the philosophical argument that I am most partial to is the idea that consciousness hasn’t been demonstrated to be caused by the physical brain or by physical matter.
My understanding is that the physical brain is not fully understood. So yes, it can be said that some consciousness-making dynamic in the brain is yet to be discovered. And that is the point! It’s yet to be discovered. Thus, it’s also conceivable that gross physical matter simply cannot and does not make or produce consciousness, and that there is some nonphysical aspect to the human being that is consciousness. This notion is supported by my experiences. Unless someone can definitively show that matter can and does produce consciousness, and/or that the physical brain can and does produce consciousness, then it seems unreasonable to discount the notion that consciousness could be something beyond the physical brain or physical body.
A rebuttal to experiences like mine that seems common among academics is that the experiences are brain generated illusions – or other type of hallucination – and that there is no indication that the experiences are anything other than that.
I believe that people have these memories of these [out-of-body experiences when near death]. It’s just about the interpretation… All we have is a story constructed after the fact… any weird kind of experience you could imagine, if you accept this level of evidence then you have to believe every paranormal claim out there. Because we have that level of evidence for thousands of stories that are conflicting and mutually exclusive, often culturally dependent. It’s simply not acceptable. And we know, we know for a fact that the brain could absolutely manufacture those memories and come to absolutely believe a story like that that’s definitely not true (Debates, Novella, 1:03:32-1:04:21).
This is a good point. How can we know if the experience is real at all? Or whether the experience is some brain generated hallucination?
Even earlier on I approached these experiences more from a scientist’s perspective – insomuch as I could. I understood to some extent the ideas of falsifiability, and experimentation, and evidence. And it seemed reasonable and logical that:
- If the out-of-body experience is a real experience of leaving the physical body in a nonphysical state,
- And if others can generate this state as well,
- Then two people who are in this state should be able to meet and interact and validate the interaction later.
And this is exactly what I endeavored to do. I enacted a blind experiment with my friend Louis:
I’d decided to visit him and to make it so I could validate the experience. I didn’t tell him I was planning to meet him. And before going OBE I imagined myself in a long white robe, with a golden band around the chest/ torso area of the robe. I went OBE and had a groggy experience of meeting and communicating with him in the nonphysical. The next day we talked on the phone as usual, and I didn’t mention the experience at all. Louis volunteered that he saw me in the OBE state, that I was wearing a big white shirt with a gold ring around it, and that when we talked, I seemed drunk (Berry, 33).
I want to stress that in this experiment I did not inform my friend that I was going to visit him in the out-of-body state. I just knew he frequently traveled out-of-body, so I’d likely be able to find him. Not only did I not tell him that I would visit him to test the experience, but I also didn’t tell him that I’d alter my appearance in a strange way, with the big white shirt with a gold band around its center.
So, unless scientists can explain or demonstrate how his brain could somehow hallucinate exactly what I intended to do in the out-of-body state; correlating exactly with the hallucination my brain had of the interaction; and with his brain having no foreknowledge of it at all, then this seems to be evidence that the experience is real.
As quoted earlier, Dr Novella has said: “I believe that people have these memories of these experiences.” So, given that my account is not a fabrication but a valid memory, then how is this explained as a brain generated hallucination? Or if my friend’s account is a fabrication, how did he manage to fabricate the experience exactly when he had no foreknowledge of what I intended to do – including the aspects of my appearance and state of awareness? And when I have my own valid memory of the interaction; with both our accounts matching exactly?
I’ve learned that I still have much more work to do – as far as developing and exploring the out-of-body state; and as far as establishing veridical evidence for the out-of-body experience. And I’m actively engaged in doing so! For example, I’ve founded a research organization named Darryl E Berry Jr’s Next Density Center (DEBJ-NDC) where I’m currently training people to out-of-body travel. I’m organizing a team of conscious out-of-body explorers. And we’ll complete the aforementioned – among other things! But this experience with my friend is certainly a great start towards adding evidence to the validity of the out-of-body state and to the reality of the independence of mind or consciousness.
IntelligenceSquared Debates. “Death Is Not Final”. Steven Novella quote, YouTube upload, 21 June 2020, https://youtu.be/h0YtL5eiBYw.
Hoofard, Nathan Michael. Personal discussions, 1 July 2020.
Hoofard, Nathan Michael. “The Mind Brain Problem”. YouTube upload, 21 June 2020, https://youtu.be/IU8KlcTWrVQ.
Berry Jr., Darryl E. Travel Far: A Beginner’s Guide to the Out-of-Body Experience, Including First-Hand Accounts and Comprehensive Theory and Methods, 1st ed., (V4 2020), Darryl E Berry Jr / Next Density, 2015 (https://www.nextdensity.org/books/travel-far/).
Copyright © 2020 Darryl E Berry Jr, Founder of DEBJ-NDC.
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