Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, May-June 2016, vol.12, no.3, pp. 162–164
by Stephan A. Schwartz, Gary E. Schwartz, PhD, and Larry Dossey, MD
In September 2015, following on the Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science, a second meeting was held in Tucson, called The Final Transition Conference. Organized by consciousness researcher Stephan A. Schwartz, the purpose of the meeting was to explore the questions: What happens when we die, and what constitutes humane, decent care of the dying? The conference faculty was composed of therapists, clinicians, scholars, and researchers from the US and Europe, all of whom are involved in various ways in end-of-life care. It became clear that an exclusively materialist view of consciousness — the notion that consciousness is produced by the brain and is annihilated with physical death — cannot account for the rich, variegated experiences that surround the dying brain and body, and that a post-materialist science is required. A key feature of a post-materialist approach is that of nonlocal consciousness, in which consciousness is not considered to be localized or confined to specific points in space, such as the physical brain and body, nor to specific points in time, such as the present.
The following Declaration was drafted by Stephan A. Schwartz, Gary E. Schwartz (no familial relationship) and Larry Dossey. It represents a consensus view of the undersigned faculty of The Final Transition Conference and others.
Declaration for Integrative, Evidence-Based, End-of-Life Care that Incorporates Nonlocal Consciousness
1. Twenty-first-century medicine and healthcare pride themselves on being evidence-based. Whether the therapies are conventional, complementary, or integrative, in all instances the explicit philosophy guiding their use is their grounding in the best available scientific theories and outcome research. This same philosophy ostensibly guides end-of-life care.
2. And yet, the nature of consciousness has been largely explored only from the assumption that it is a poorly understood neurophysiological process entirely resident in the human organism. Its inherent physicality has become an ironbound axiom. However, a growing body of experimental and clinical research now challenges this assumption. In disciplines as diverse as physics, biology, and neuroscience, research findings published in the peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature collectively indicate the existence of a nonlocal aspect of consciousness that is not wholly dependent on the brain, is not limited to specific points in space and time, and does not cease to exist with physical death. Although the consensus of the authors and co-signers of this Declaration is that the collective evidence points toward this conclusion, other consciousness scientists believe that the current evidence is not definitive enough to conclude this with certainty.
3. Today, there are seven stabilized experimental protocols used in laboratories around the world, each of which requires the existence of nonlocal consciousness to be successful. All seven protocols have independently produced six-sigma results, meaning that the odds against a chance explanation of the experimental finding are roughly a billion to one, or above a 99.999999 percentile of certainty.
4. In addition, there are now five areas of consciousness science that are directly linked to the processes of death that also support the existence of a nonlocal, non-physiologically dependent consciousness. This research includes (1) near-death experiences (NDEs); (2) after-death communications (ADC); (3) death-bed vision and physical phenomena at the time of death; (4) laboratory studies with research mediums; and (5) reincarnation research, particularly involving young children.
5. We believe that the question, Can consciousness exist that is not physiologically based? has been answered in the affirmative, and that it is time to move on — time to incorporate these findings into clinical applications and public policy, and integrate them into evidence-based, end-of-life care.
6. We believe that everyone involved in end-of-life care — patients, providers, loved ones, administrators, insurers, policy makers — should be educated in a non-sectarian, evidence-based manner concerning these findings, and how they can be integrated in the care of individuals at the end of physical life.
7. Programs should be developed that prepare patients and their loved ones for the journey following death, based on the evidence provided in 4. This can have major effects in reducing the fear of death in both patients and their loved ones.
8. The current practice of keeping severely ill patients alive, against all odds of meaningful recovery as judged by medical experts, needs to be rethought in light of this research. Important factors in this decision also include a patient’s Living Will, the quality of his or her final days, and the desires and wishes of loved ones when a patient is no longer conscious or responsive.
9. The new consciousness research points to the existence of an individual’s immortal, nonlocal consciousness, a perspective affirmed by many philosophical and religious traditions for millennia. If consciousness pre-exists physical birth, and continues after corporeal death in a cycle whose dimensions we do not yet know, then liberty, respect, and justice require that an individual have autonomy over when to terminate their corporeal existence. We believe this process is best served when every aspect of end-of-life palliative care representing the integration of sciences and humanities is available to that individual.
10. We emphasize that all of the above considerations have substantial economic implications for family members, health care providers, insurance companies, and societies.
11. We see nonlocal consciousness as existing within the broader context of the emergence of Post-Materialist Science. We recognize, however, that acknowledging non-physiologically based consciousness has the potential to evoke emotional responses that challenge deeply held beliefs in both mainstream science and religions. It will take a commitment of courage, compassion, and integrity to address the wealth of implications and opportunities afforded by integrating this post-materialist perspective with end-of-life care — more accurately, end-of-physical-life care. Now is the time to advance this integration. File name: Introduction and Declaration-4-GS, SAS, DR, LD. Fin
Gary Schwartz, PhD, Psychology, Neurology, Psychiatry & Surgery
Professor, University of Arizona
Director, Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health
Co-signers listed in alphabetical order
Eben Alexander III, MD, Neurosurgeon
Author, Proof of Heaven and The Map of Heaven
Loyd Auerbach, MS
President, Forever Family Foundation
Adjunct Professor, JFK University
Adjunct Professor, Atlantic University
Callum E Cooper, CPsychol, FHEA
Psychology Division, University of Northampton
Neal Grossman, PhD
Associate Prof Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago
Jane Katra, PhD
Public Health Health Educator
Author, Death as a Doorway
Jon Klimo, PhD
Professor, Argosy University
Co-author, Handbook to the Afterlife
Stanley Krippner, PhD
Professor of Psychology and Integrative Inquiry, Saybrook University
Co-editor, Varieties of Anomalous Experience
Louis E LaGrand, PhD
Director of Loss Education Associates
Author, Healing Grief, Finding Peace and Love Lives On
Elizabeth E McAdams, PhD
President, International Foundation for Survival Research
Lisa Jane Miller, PhD, Clinical Psychology
Editor, Oxford Handbook of Psychology & Spirituality, Editor-in-Chief, Spirituality in Clinical Practice
Professor & Director, Spirituality & Mind Body Institute, Columbia University
Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD
Author, The Roots of Consciousness
Vernon M Neppe, MD, PhD
Fellow Royal Society (SAf)
Ohkado Masayuki, PhD
Professor, Graduate School of Global Humanics, Faculty of General Education, Chubu University
Diane Hennacy Powell, MD, Psychiatrist
Author, The ESP Enigma
Linda G Russek, PhD
Heart Science Inc
Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, Social Anthropology
Founder & CEO, Worldview Enterprises
President Emeritus & Senior Fellow, Institute of Noetic Sciences
Mel Schwartz, Psychotherapist
Author, A Shift of Mind: A Quantum Approach to Life Mastery
Patrizio E Tressoldi, PhD
Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale Università di Padova