The Frontiers of Consciousness: Updates on Several Recent Conferences

The Frontiers of Consciousness: Updates on Several Recent Conferences

Lights of ideasThe vast majority of mainstream consciousness science is focused on the physical and material nature of the brain. And yet, much more is possible. While considered heretical in many domains of science, frontier scientists are exploring the ways in which data from various studies now suggest that we take a more expansive view of consciousness and the mind.

To support this, one can draw on developments in quantum physics that shake the foundations of conventional causality and common sense notions of space and time. While progress in the areas of nonlocal consciousness have been slow and poorly funded, scientists are now finding new gateways into a science that reaches beyond the physical aspects of our human experience.

Over the past few weeks I have been involved in several mind expanding conferences that have focused on the furthest reaches of consciousness studies and how to build a strong and robust science. The first event, hosted by Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona involved an exploration into what the group defined as “post materialist science.”

Chaired by Dr. Gary Schwartz from the University of Arizona, speakers included Larry Dossey, Rupert Sheldrake, Charles Tart, Mario Beauregard, Lisa Miller, and others, including myself. Here the conversation revolved around the development of a strategy for advancing the science of consciousness that moves beyond the materialist paradigm. This included discussions about nonlocal consciousness, the science of mediumship, healing research, and the nature of state specific science. The environment, deep in the inspiring Arizona desert, provided an exceptional opportunity to explore these leading edge topics with freedom and mutual support. By taking a multidisciplinary perspective, it was possible to explore the complex nature of consciousness.

The second event, sponsored by the Samueli Institute and the Institute of Noetic Sciences, was held at the National Academy of Science’s Beckman Center at the University of California, Irvine. It focused on the science of nonlocal consciousness. Here, researchers who are actively engaged in such research presented the evidence for the transfer of information beyond the ordinary senses.

Speakers acknowledged that such investigations are part of scientific history. Isaac Newton, William James, and a half-dozen Nobel Laureates have been drawn to a science that moves beyond the conventional materialist model. Today, with the use of contemporary neuroimaging, psychophysiological methods, and advanced quantitative tools, it is possible to begin mapping a new territory for scientific research and practical applicataions. The purpose of this meeting was to “review the latest empirical and theoretical research on nonlocal consciousness and explore whether the current data and understanding warrant an increased level of funding.” Discussions included ways of advancing knowledge in this area, including new and improved methods of study.

Overall, the spirit of both meetings was one of exploration and discovery. With a spirit of adventure, new vistas of possibility for our understanding of consciousness are ready for a new infusion of energy and resources.