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Basic Brain Anatomy and The Theory of Consciousness

by Jack Turner MD

Basic Brain Anatomy and The Theory of Consciousness

For those readers interested in a deeper study of the human brain and the theory of consciousness and the mind, what follows will serve as a guided introduction for those somewhat unfamiliar with the terminology and constructs of the brain. It is a formidable task to contemplate the mechanisms of the mind. We will use our brains and our minds as tools to explore the workings of our brains and our minds (imagine, if you will, your computer working quietly each night trying to understand why it is able to compute however, unlike a computer, the organization of the brain involves variability, differential amplification, degeneracy and value) and although researchers are making great strides in attempting to understand the mystery of consciousness, if there is a definite answer it remains elusive and tantalizingly just out of comprehensive reach. That is, just out of reach if we try to understand in terms of the commonly known three spatial dimensions and the fourth of space-time. Pickover, in Surfing Through Hyperspace, quotes from P. D. Ouspensky's 1908 essay on the fourth dimension. I believe it is worth repeating here.

"We may have very good reason for saying that we are ourselves beings of four dimensions and we are turned towards the third dimension with only one of our sides, i.e., with only a small part of our being. Only this part of us lives in three dimensions, and we are conscious only of this part as our body. The greater part of our being lives in the fourth dimension, but we are unconscious of this greater part of ourselves. Or it would be still more true to say that we live in a four-dimensional world, but are conscious of ourselves only in a three-dimensional world."

It may indeed require an understanding of higher dimensions including those described by Mr. Robert Bruce, to finally begin to understand this sweet mystery of life.

Consciousness appears to be dependent upon activation of many widely-separated areas of the human brain rather than enjoying a special location within the brain, this location commonly referred to as the seat of the soul or the seat of consciousness. It appears that the thalamocortical system and associated consciousness-specific interconnections with other consciousness-related brain areas may be that is responsible for consciousness awareness. Before getting very wet, it may behoove us to test the water with a review of simple anatomy and physiology.

I. Basic Brain Anatomy

The human brain, weighing approximately three pounds or roughly two percent of body weight, can be thought of as the sacred vessel that contains and reproduces the world around us. All of our conscious and unconsciousness perceptions are filtered, altered, analyzed and organized by a gigantic symphony of neuronal players and then distributed to other body organs via nerve impulses and biochemical messengers. Our entire experiential universe is contained within the substance of the brain's matter. However, one perplexing question is generated by the study of the brain. What happens after the brain ceases to function and has surrendered to the dreaded ghost of impermanence? Is there something within the brain that lives on as the soul? Is there truly a "seat of consciousness" within the brain?

Prior to a brief discourse on the origin of consciousness and the seat of the soul, it would behoove us to review some basic brain anatomy. For those readers who which to pursue these topics in greater depth, there is a suitable bibliography at the end of this appendix.

The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord comprised of 200 billion neurons. In the developing embryo, a neural groove soon differentiates into a neural tube and at the cephalic or "head end", the brain forms as the prosencephalon (forebrain) which is further subdivided into the diencephalon and the telencephalon. When we think of the brain, we often picture two roughly equal-sized hemispheres, the inferior and posterior cerebellum or "small brain", and the midline brain stem, which continues distally as the spinal cord. The forebrain is the most rostral, ( i.e. closest to the nasal passages), portion of the three primary brain vesicles of the embryonic neural tube. The prosencephalon further divides into the diencephalon and the telencephalon. The second major brain vesicle is the mesencephalon or midbrain. The third major division is the rombencephalon (hindbrain). The neocortex is a structure belonging to the forebrain. In an embryo of three months gestation, approximately 250,000 neurons per minute are formed. At birth, almost the entire adult complement of neurons (30 billion or more) has been formed. At six years of age, the brain weight is one-half of the adult weight. At age 10, the brain weight is nearly the same as the adult brain and reaches its maximum weight at age 20. This increase in brain size is due to the rapid formation of new connections, myelination or "insulation" of the axonal fibers and growth of glial (supporting) cells.

The two great systems of the CNS are the motor and sensory systems. Motor, or muscular control, requires many connections from the cortex of the brain, to the basal ganglia, deep brain structures of grey matter, and to the cerebellum (for coordination) and eventually to motor neurons in the spinal cord and finally to the muscular system. Incoming sensory signals (touch, vibration, pain, position sense, temperature, etc.) return via the spinal cord to the thalamus, the sensory relay station and then to the cortex. This is, of course, a simplification of a vast interconnected network of neurons. Approximately 75% of the brain's neurons are located in the cerebral cortex with its billions of cells and over one million billion (ten to the ninth power) of connections. It has been stated by Gerald Edelman that this number exceeds the number of known particles in the universe (ten to the 80th power) with the number of possible neuronal circuits being ten to the millionth power! The cerebral hemispheres are further subdivided into various lobes, and designated frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital (Fig. 1).

These divisions (Figure 2) roughly correspond to anatomical dividing lines of various named sulci and gyri. Simply put, one could consider the frontal lobes are for personality however within the frontal lobes are connections concerning speech, functions of the mouth and pharynx, regions concerned with articulation and deglutition (the process of swallowing), portions of respiratory and circulatory control, intelligence, planning, reasoning and thinking. The anterior region, the pre-frontal cortex, is a location where intelligence was once thought to be located however, with destruction of the pre-frontal area, there is no significant observable decrease in intellectual performance. Electrical stimulation of the pre-frontal area produces no motor movements and thus is called inexcitable.

It is useful to think of the parietal lobes in terms of spatial orientation, speech, cognition, integration of auditory, tactile and visual memories along with interconnections to the temporal and occipital lobes both intrahemispheric and, via the corpus callosum, with the contralateral hemisphere. Various disorders of language, various apraxias (disorders of movement), visual field cuts and patterns of body neglect are seen with damage to the parietal lobes.

The temporal lobes contain a preponderance of fibers involved with facial recognition. Other functions include audition and balance, a portion of the pathways for vision (i.e. temporal lobe lesions produce superior contralateral quadrantic visual field cuts) and a portion of the olfactory apparatus for the sense of smell. Portions of the limbic system, which plays a major role in memory, are located within the temporal lobe.

The occipital lobes are concerned with our visual apparatus and the pathways for perception and recognition. The figure below shows further divisions based upon the function of various regions of the brain cortex:

The frontal lobe lies anterior to the fissure of Rolando (central sulcus) and superior to the fissure of Sylvius (Figure 3).

In the sixteenth century, the Italian philosopher and physician, Arcangelo Piccolomini, was the first to make the distinction between white matter and the cortex.

The motor strip (motor cortex) is part of the frontal lobe as is the premotor cortex. The parietal lobe extends from the central sulcus to the occipital gyri. Below the Sylvian fissure is the temporal lobe. The cerebellum, not shown in the figure, sits directly beneath the temporal and occipital lobes. In addition to this simple lobar anatomy of the brain, Rodman (Figure 4) labeled 47 areas of importance such as areas 8 and 24 for contralateral eye and head movements, areas 44 and 45 of the dominant hemisphere as the centers for speech, and areas 17 and 18 of the occipital cortex for vision.

The right cerebral hemisphere, although somewhat larger then the left, is nearly a mirror image of the left hemisphere. The two hemispheres are separated by a thin but sturdy layer of tissue, the cerebral falx which is contiguous with the outermost covering of the brain, the dura mater. The noted Egyptologist R.A. Schwaller de Lubiciz felt that the falx cerebri separated the two brain hemispheres in such a manner that truth was separated from error and in his book The Temple in Man: The Secrets of Ancient Egypt, shows how the cerebral hemispheres are represented by the southernmost portion (Room 20) of the Temple of Luxor (also see G. Daressy's "Notice Explicative des Ruines du Temple de Luxor", 1893). Modern science tells us that the right hemisphere is the creative brain and the left hemisphere the calculating or logical brain. Generally, language centers are located within the left hemisphere and important visual and spatial functions are contained within the right hemisphere. This is a great simplification of what is actually an enormously complex system, but it will suffice for lay purposes. The cerebral hemispheres are separated by the dural falx, and are interconnected by means of the corpus callosum, a thick bundle of white-matter fibers. Deep within the brain are paired gray-matter structures: the thalami, the hippocampi and the amygdali.

Just as an ounce of gold can be hammered into a sheet thin enough to cover a tennis court, the numerous folding and enfolding (gyri and sulci) of the brain allow a large surface area of cortex to be compacted to the allowable space within the cranium (skull cavity). This outer layer or cortex is extremely thin, varying from one to four millimeters in thickness, and is composed of over 30 billion neurons where as the remainder of the brain and cerebellum have over 150 billion neurons. There is a well-organized laminar pattern of cellular and fibrous components (axons and dendrites) with approximately 150,000 neurons beneath each square millimeter of cortex. The layers of the cortex are identified (following Brodmann) as:

  1. Molecular layer
    • Tangential layer subdivided into four layers
  2. Outer granular layer
    • Dysfibrous layer, no subdivisions
  3. Pyramidal cell layer
    • Suprastriate layer with three subdivisions
  4. Inner granular layer
    • The external band of Baillarger
    • No subdivisions
    • Inputs from the thalamus, the "sensory clearing house" arrive here
  5. Inner pyramidal layer
    • Inner striate layer
    • Internal band of Baillarger
  6. Multiform cell layer
    • Infrastriate layer with four subdivisions

Notice that four of the six layers have further subdivisions. Again, the number of layers varies from one to six with one layer only found in the older archicortex of the hippocampus, to the six layers in the larger neocortex. The outermost molecular layer contains sparse cell bodies and is composed mainly of the distal rami long apical dendrites arriving perpendicular to the brain surface from fusiform and pyramidal cells in the deeper cortical layers. Brodmann's 47 areas of the cerebral cortex were based on the cytoarchitecture of each region. Within the cortical layers, axons and dendrites extend vertically and horizontally forming billions upon billions of connections. The importance of this cortical structure is for one to note that this layering pattern, with the resultant multitude of connections, has been clearly demonstrated as a significant feature of the human brain. The important feature of the cortical neurons is the mapping of areas according to function and the dynamic relationship that continues between neurons with excitation and inhibition of the multitude of interneuronal connections.

Within the white matter primarily are the glial or supporting cells of the central nervous system, the astrocytes, which nourish and maintain the neural cells and the oligodendrocytes, which produce the myelin sheaths of the neural axons.

The areas immediately anterior and posterior to the central sulcus are known as the precentral and poscentral gyri and are responsible for sensory and motor functions respectively. The distribution of function is commonly represented by sensory and motor homunculi or "little men" (a phrase coined by Dr. Wilder Penfield) is drawn in a representative fashion, Fig. 5, which shows the motor homunculus along the precentral gyrus or motor strip.

Notice that the relative size of each area directly corresponds to the amount of information being transmitted to or from the brain. For example, the area for the motor control of the thumb is far greater than that for the little finger and indeed, we can perform many complex moves with the first digit than we can with the fifth. There is a homunculus for the premotor cortex also which varies quite a bit from the motor strip's homunculus. This distribution was obtained from various brain stimulation sessions in awake patients. Edelman in his book Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, feels that there may be a large number of homunculi and that the visual system alone may have thirty such representations. Blood-flow studies and functional MRI studies are now shedding more light on the subject of cortical and brain function but we remain in the dark ages when it comes to understanding the human brain. Perhaps the concept of metaspace (coined by Robert Bruce) and knowledge gleaned from other planes and dimensions will reveal the mystery of life? It is my feeling that what eludes us presently is just around the corner of our understanding.

II. Consciousness and the Seat of the Soul

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."

The Call of Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft

Aristotle (384 BCE to 322 BCE) thought the human heart was the seat of all thought and consciousness whereas Plato felt it was within the brain. In 1649, Rene Descartes, the brilliant French mathematician, described the pineal gland as the control center of the body and mind. Two schools of thought were established to explain the brain/mind connection. Dualism felt that the mind was independent of the brain whereas monism taught that the mind was located within the brain. But exactly what is consciousness? A simple to grasp working definition would be that consciousness is the active awareness of one's mental and physical state with the ability to modify these states. There are some notable exceptions such as the locked-in syndrome where the patient is fully conscious but only able to communicate through blinking of the eyes. In such an unfortunate case, it would be nearly impossible to alter the physical state.

Let us return to the pineal gland. This structure is located at the top of the brainstem (e.g. the higher brainstem). Descartes wrote of res cogitans (thinking things) and res extensa (extended things) as components of the external world. The pineal gland was felt to be the organ that allowed res cogitans to interact with the res extensa. Although metaphysicians may refer to the pineal gland as the "3rd eye" or "trap door of the brain", it is not tenable to think that the mind is located here. In fact, melatonin and other chemicals are at work for light and time adaptation within this organ.

The question put before us, is simple to state but difficult to answer. "Do brain mechanisms account for the mind or is the mind separate from the brain?" - dualism vs. monism. To attempt to answer this enigmatic conundrum will involve the disciplines of psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neurobiology, neurosurgery, neurology, linguistics, philosophy, and computer science among others. Eventually I will discuss the art/science of remote viewing and, perhaps most importantly, Astral Dynamics as they pertain to the questions of consciousness and the soul (spirit).

According to Gerald M. Edelman, A Universe of Consciousness, "Consciousness is neither a thing nor a simple property." Edelman has asserted that a fundamental property of consciousness is that it cannot be broken down into independent components. Consciousness is integrated.

Reviewing the work and writing of the great Dr. Wilder Penfield, will be an excellent starting point on our search for the soul and the seat of consciousness. Many years ago, a now out-of-print book was given to me, The Mystery of the Mind. In this excellent work, Dr. Penfield explains how his electrical stimulation of the human cortex led to his search for the mind of man. He realized that large areas of the cerebral cortex could be surgically removed without affecting consciousness but destruction of small areas of the brainstem would seriously affect consciousness and could completely abolish it. This was especially true in the region of the higher brainstem or diencephalon. As a practicing neurosurgeon, it was routine for me to care for patients who, due to injury or hemorrhage, had sustained damage in this region and, for the most part, consciousness could not be regained. In particular, when the reticular activating system (the ascending reticular activating system described by Morruzzi and Magounin), the brainstem is destroyed, consciousness is not possible. Although traumatic unconsciousness may be caused by injury either directly or indirectly to this area, it has been noted that most current evidence points to the greater importance of diffuse lesions affecting the cerebral hemispheres rather than the brain stem. Evidence supporting this view comes from neuropathological studies in fatal cases, from studies involving experimental modeling, and from radiological studies in clinical circumstances.

Referring to the diagrams, the pre frontal and temporal areas at birth, are two especially important brain regions that are not initially dedicated to motor or sensory functions. Neurologists and neurosurgeons are cognizant of the fact that surgical removal of the anterior frontal lobe results in a decrease in the capacity for planned initiative. Perhaps the elusive location of the mind is here?

Penfield noted that electrocortical stimulation of the brain yielded four basic types of responses: motor, sensory, interpretive perception and recall of conscious experience. The temporal lobe was felt responsible for interpretation of present experience in light of past experience. Stimulation of the temporal cortex could result in the patient experiencing dreamy states due to the electrical activation of the sequential record of consciousness as described by H. Jasper in Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain. These experiential responses were at first thought to come from a "memory cortex| but it was realized that cortical stimulation activated a distant secondary center of grey matter in the higher brain stem (diencephalon). To put his another way, stimulation of the cortex does not activate neuronal cells in close proximity to the stimulating electrode (i.e. the local field as these neurons become paralyzed by the electrical current and for a brief period of time do not function. the signal travels via neuronal axons to distant areas were neuronal collections receive the signals. Primitive motor movements are then observed such as the gross motor movements shown by infants who have not yet developed their higher centers. These distant neurons are in the spinal cord and are termed secondary ganglionic stations. See Penfield and Perot's The brain's record of auditory and visual experience: A final summary and discussion. Brain 86: 595-696.

Dr. Penfield describes many interesting cases and cortical stimulation results and it will behoove us to review his work. A female patient described a dreamy state as her temporal lobe was stimulated. She could clearly see and here saved memories of her son playing outside of the house near the traffic of the street. Another patient clearly described his presence at a baseball game and his observation of a small child playing beneath the stands. Another patient clearly heard an orchestra playing a melody. This was repeatable and unchanged with successive stimulation of the cortex. The following example will illustrate some interesting experimental results:

Stimulation point 2: Tingling of patient's left thumb
Stimulation point 3: Tingling of left side of thumb
Stimulation point 7: Movement of tongue
Stimulation point 11: Auditory memories of a conversation
Stimulation point 12: Auditory memories of particular voices
Stimulation point 15: Precognition of events

Because of hundreds of brain stimulation cases, it was concluded that it was the mind, not the brain that watches and "at the same time directs. . .If decisions as to the target of conscious attention are made by the mind, then the mind it is that directs the programming of all the mechanisms within the brain." Is there really a "highest brain mechanism" that provides energy to the brain in a form that does not depend upon axonal potentials and flow? It was demonstrated that patients who were subjected to cortical stimulation, which presented an experiential remembrance event, were able to simultaneously experience the memory and discuss the experience. This is similar to the bilocution that is experienced during a Remote Viewing session. The viewer is keenly aware that he/she is sitting at a desk with pen and paper in hand but at the same time being aware of a mental presence at the "target site." Dr. Penfield labeled this experience of two streams of consciousness as "doubling of awareness." It was shown that the content of the flashback or dreamy state was dependent upon the concentration used when the memory was recorded in the brain and on which events were paid attention too. Only events meeting these two criteria were "played back." He concluded that three integrative mechanisms were operational:

  1. Highest Brain-mechanism
    • Located in the higher brain stem.
    • A 'grey matter' region (collection of neuronal elements).
    • Injury here could indeed produce a loss of consciousness.
  2. Automatic sensory-motor mechanism
    • Coordinates previously programmed by the mind
  3. Experiential record
    • Areas in the diencephalon and hippocampus (temporal lobe).

In only two cases did he notice that electrocortical stimulation produced forced thinking intellectual aura. Thus, he concluded that electrical stimulation could not activate the mind. For further reading on brain stimulation, see Ojemann and Calvin, Conversations with Neil's Brain.

The cortex is responsible for the content of consciousness. It has been demonstrated that destruction of certain regions of the cortex will not produce unconsciousness and it is the reticular activating system that is responsible for maintaining and maintaining activation of the thalamocortical system, a reciprocally connected system between the cortex and the thalamus (the "sensory clearing house of the brain"). In this thalamocortical system, most of the neurons receive inputs from other neurons and not from the sensory system. However, a large part of the cortical activity is not appreciated as part of the conscious experience but cortical activity indeed is necessary for the conscious state to exist.

Strange things indeed occur. For example, approximately 150 milliseconds to 350 milliseconds prior to our conscious awareness that a voluntary motor act is about to begin, an evoked potential can be recorded from the scalp. Libet called this the "readiness" potential. Therefore, free and voluntary acts begin unconsciously before awareness that the decision has been made to act has been created in the thalamocortical system. Libet's conclusion was that the cerebral initiation of a spontaneous act might begin unconsciously prior to the awareness in consciousness that that act is en progress. It begs the question "Just who is doing the programming?"

According to Edelman and Tononi (A Universe of Consciousness), one key element for consciousness is the presence of so called reentrant interactions for integration of various brain regions. This is felt to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for conscious experience. A study of the brain during certain seizure states and in slow-wave sleep show that the necessary conditions for consciousness may be met but the person is not actually conscious. In sleep, the neuronal firing levels are similar to the levels seen during the awake and fully-conscious state. It is the pattern of the neuronal firing that differs between the wake and sleep states.

  • Waking state/REM sleep:
    • EEG shows fast, low-voltage waves indicative of many neuronal states.
    • Considered a state of high complexity.
  • Slow-wave sleep:
    • EEG shows a diffuse pattern of high-voltage slow waves (burst pause).
    • Global synchronization patterns are seen
    • Highly reduced number of neuronal states
    • A state of low complexity.
    • Consciousness is lost as brain areas are synchronized.

Therefore, consciousness requires continuously changing patterns of neural activity and these patterns are spatially and temporally differentiated. This spatiotemporal integration of motor/sensory action is accomplished by reentry across brain maps. Edelman and Tononi postulate that the main mechanism accounting for neural integration is the existence of multiple parallel fibers with reciprocal connections between brain areas. We might ask, "What is the characteristic common to neuronal groups which act to sustain the conscious experience. Current research indicates that two key items are necessary and to paraphrase Edelman, they are:

  1. A dynamic core (neuronal) group which constantly fluxuates in both integration and composition and contributes to the consciousness experience through reentrant interactions in the thalamocortical system with a high degree if integration reachable within hundreds of milliseconds.
  2. This core, or functional cluster, must be of high complexity (i.e. highly differentiated). This cluster cannot be broken down into independent components. Such a core changes in spatial location, composition and in time. This core cannot be restricted/localized to a particular position within the brain. Such a system is termed complex, which implies that a disturbance created in one part of the system spreads to involve (or to connect) all parts of the system. Thus, consciousness is integrated.

If the mind is the decision maker, then there is a back-and-forth interplay with the brain, which must act to store memories and carries out motor and sensory functions with the body, which, in turn, may interact directly with the mind. If so, one will ask where is the energy source for the function of the mind? Can the mind be energized from power sources outside of the brain? If this can be shown, then we might be tempted to conclude that the mind/spirit can continue to function after death. We must demonstrate that the mind can draw upon energy from without. Can the mind be contacted by another mind? This would imply a transfer of energy between minds. A consideration of the ideas put forth in Robert Bruce's Astral Dynamics is in order. His concepts, developed over years of intense study, may hold the key to further exploration of the mind-brain enigma.

III. Astral Dynamics and New Energy Ways

"If the multidimensional nature of human consciousness is accepted, as can be experienced firsthand through the simple duality of the mind-split at close range, a great many complex issues and questions arise. These suggest the very real possibility that multiple copies of the same mind can simultaneously exist on many dimensional levels."

Robert Bruce, Astral Dynamics

How might the study of OBE and the dynamics and physics of the astral planes play a role in the study of human consciousness? Are scientists missing a valuable tool that would compliment EEG (electroencephalography), fMRI (functional MRI) and MEG (magnetoencephalography)? We should reflect upon this.

According to Rosemary Clark (The Sacred Tradition in Ancient Egypt), there is abundant evidence that the Egyptian belief was that where were various spiritual planes accessible from the material (physical) world and the process of transformation was the means for one to access these planes. The transformative processes were birth and death. Ms. Clark describes the Ka (Etheric Body), Ba (Astral Body) and the Sa (Life Force). The Sa was involved all aspects of sentient life and was felt to be omnipresent in the physical plane and its function was to tie together the non-physical planes of manifestation. It may be the Akashic Pulse described by Bruce (Bruce, 432).

Understanding the relationship between OBE and physical body/brain memory storage appears to be the key to planned and repeatable OBE (Bruce, 23). Here memory plays a crucial part, as the downloading of the projected double's shadow memories must take place to make these memories available to the conscious physical mind in order for the OBE experience to be recalled.

The trance state is the first stage of a multileveled and multidimensional conscious-exit projection process. This allows waking, thinking consciousness to continue within the confines of the etheric body while at the same time, the physical body and its mind continue to sleep. The astral body, the next state of existence above the real-time body maintains a "center of consciousness" which apparently shifts from the real-time body and into the astral body. The physical/etheric body conveys the majority of its energies to the astral body thus allowing it to maintain full awake thinking consciousness. Bruce summarized this quite well when he stated he Physical Body's original copy of consciousness stays firmly inside the physical body, but is energetically connected with its projected aspect at all times.

I found it quite interesting that the brow center, as described by Bruce, appears to be or is connected with the pineal gland although the location of the brow center appears to be directly behind the glabella (frontal bone above the nose) where the pineal gland is located posteriorly at the top of the mid brain and just behind the true center of the brain. I have long wondered about something called the palpebral-oculogyric reflex in which the eyeballs rotate upward with closing of the eyes. This happens in voluntary eye closing and in sleep. Is this to protect the closed eyes from bright light and if so, why does it occur during sleep in a dark room? Could it be that the human retina is directed to the "brow center" to receive light images during trance/sleep? At first, this concept may seem preposterous to one unfamiliar with astral dynamics, but when coupled with the metaphysical study of astral physics it is not a stretch of the imagination at all to conceive of such a process. The brain's connections for upgaze are in the pineal region (see Parinaud's syndrome or paralysis of upgaze in any neurology text). It may be that this possible connection with the brow-center (third eye/pineal region) may be involved in the duplication of the master copy of consciousness into the real-time body and higher bodies.

The Incredible Mind-Split

Now we are getting to the meat of things. In Astral Dynamics, Bruce describes what he calls the mind-split. The preceding review of the theory of consciousness may now make the concept of mind-split easy to understand. Let me begin with dual perception.

Several years ago, retired U.S. Army Major Ed Dames and his associate and vice-president of Psy Tech, Inc., Ms. Joni Dourif, trained me in Technical Remote Viewing. In brief, coordinate remote viewing is a technique developed by the U.S. Army and Stanford Research Institute in the early 1970's. They enlisted the famous psychic Ingo Swan to help design a series of steps or procedures that any human could follow that would allow downloading of information about any topic in the past, present or future. There are many related Internet sites for the interested reader that will review this art in depth. The point I want to make is that having experienced remote viewing, I can comment on the feeling of being in two places at once (known as bilocation) as an example of consciously being aware of the mind-split.

In Technical Remote Viewing (TRV as championed by Major Ed Dames), the viewer is seated in a quiet room with paper and pen. He is given two random four-digit numbers that are designed for record keeping and target assignment. No other information is given to the viewer. Starting with the numbers, a series of events takes place beginning with a brief and split-second tracing on the paper. This is thought to be a near-instantaneous downloading of all of the information about the target from the collective unconscious as defined by Carl Jung. From this initial signal, the viewer lists decoding follows and shape, form, texture, color, smell, emotions and many other attributes of the target. Many drawings are done and many movement exercises may be performed to obtain further decoding of the initial signal. I will describe a typical session that explains this feeling of bilocation or splitting of the consciousness:

This was my second teaching target, identified by two randomly-generated four-digit numbers. I was seated at a marble-topped table with Major Dames seated across from me. The lighting in the room was subdued and the room was insulated from outside noise. As Ed Dames called out the two four-digit numbers, I wrote them down on a blank sheet of paper. Immediately my pen flashed a scribble, the download of information to the autonomic nervous system. I followed the precise sequence of steps to obtain a sense of the texture, color, temperature and feelings associated with the "target." At once I found myself near a large cold and corrugated object and felt that I was alone beside this object in the middle of no where, an isolated spot. As I used what could be called a minds eye, I could sense a rough vertical corrugation of this immense object, a cold feel and a roughness of the brown/tan texture. There were mixtures of green here and there, but the sense was one of lonely isolation with a gigantic vertical solid structure of proportions difficult to describe. I knew fully well that I was seated in a chair at a table in my Hawaii recording studio but at the same time, there was another "consciousness" that was at the target site. I was able to draw a rough sketch of a plateaued structure and label the areas of coldness, the colors, etc. This session ended and Major Dames removed a photo of Devil's Tower monument from a sealed envelope that had been on the corner of the table.

This was only the second training target and already I had experienced that strange feeling of the mind-split. Needles to say, with further training and experience, this feeling of bilocation became not only quite familiar during remote viewing, but enjoyable.

What does modern science say about mind-splits? Most of you are familiar with the Ganzfield stimulation experiments (i.e. featureless fields of vision) where half-globe goggles of ping-pong balls are place over the eyes and the eyes are illuminated with monochromatic light. This, in time, produces a sensitization to vision (see Snow Blindness) and perception is later affected. For conscious perception, a variance in time must be present in the visual field. If a similar experiment is performed with goggles, which, instead of projecting colors, project different stable and non-moving images to each eye, it can be shown that the mind cannot appreciate both images at the same time. That is, one of the images is selected by the brain to have priority and that is the image that the mind concentrates upon assuming the images are indeed incongruent. The physical brain cannot be conscious of both at the same time. However, a form of complete perceiving can occur when the principles of astral dynamics and the mind-split are considered and what is in effect, two pairs of eyes are used. Sylvan Muldoon thought it could and he termed this dual perception (Bruce, 44). But can consciousness continue to function in the physical body and the projected double at the same time? Muldoon and others had assumed that the physical body was left behind as a "mindless shell" after a projection. This was called the empty body assumption. This led to the various beliefs that the physical body would require some sort of protection via amulets, incense, prayers, etc., during this "vulnerable" phase. However, Bruce assures us that the physical body is quite safe and a master copy of the mind remains safely within the confines of the physical body. The physical body and the projected double must both be available, however, for analysis of the "shadow memories" from the astral body in order to perceive the mind-split that occurs during OBE.

Bruce describes the "energetic echo" which is a reflected copy of consciousness that can exist outside of the physical body. This usually happens during sleep and during an OBE but may be a process that is unnoticed by the projector. The process can lead to the construction of multiple reflected copies of the physical mind existing on different multidimensional levels. Please bear in mind that a master copy of the mind/memory/consciousness never leaves the living physical body. The next immediate state (i.e. next level) beyond the physical body is the expanded etheric body and the process works in this manner:

During sleep projection (or the trance state), a natural process occurs:

  • PHYSICAL BODY
    • internal generation
    • REAL-TIME BODY (double)
  • ETHERIC BODY
    • PHYSICAL/ETHERIC BODIES
  • (Copy of consciousness and memory)

The real-time body maintains a connection with the physical and etheric bodies via the silver cord.

After projection, the real-time body is independent of the physical and etheric bodies. It is able of recording and storing memories, experiencing and thinking. There exists a "sensory perception" interchange between the physical body and the projectable double that decreases in intensity with distance. Bruce's experiments led him to conclude that the maxim intensity was at a distance of twenty feet. It would be interesting to see if this varies with the inverse square of the distance between two points (d) as it should in a three-dimensional world, or does it vary as the inverse third power in a four-dimensional world? (i.e. For a dimensional level (n), physical forces apparently correlate with the inverse power of the distance (d) according the formula: F = (K F) / d (n-1) where F is the force, K is a constant, F represents masses, charges or other components, and d is the distance between two points of interest.)

I believe that Mr. Bruce makes what I shall call a key observation when he describes the mind-split effect. This effect allows the animating spirit (soul?) to exist in higher dimensions, reflected from the physical/etheric bodies during sleep ( Ouspensky's 1908 essay.) From here, dimensions beyond the fourth can be reached through the process of Multiple Mind Splits with each higher-dimensional body having a complete and fully-functioning copy of the master copy which is safely stored within the confines of the physical body.

Thus, consciousness is a function not only of many areas of the cortex and the brain, but depends heavily upon the previously-described thalamocortical system as well as upon areas of the reticular system, the limbic system and other key areas of the brain. We have briefly touched upon higher dimensions and as Pickover describes the necessary folding of the human cortex in three dimensions with its many gyri and sulci that allow a tremendous surface area to be placed within the human skull, it is quite possible that our minds are likewise folded to the fourth or even higher dimensions. OBE and the study of Astral Dynamics may be additional tools that will be crucial to our understanding of the brain, consciousness and the human soul.

Bibliography for general study of brain function and anatomy

  • Afifi, A.K., and Bergman, R.A. Functional Neuroanatomy, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998. For history of neuroanatomy, this will be insightful.
  • Bruce, R.: Astral Dynamics: A NEW Approach to Out-of-Body Experience. Hampton Roads, 1999. For a discussion of astral projection and metaspace this is essential reading.
  • Clark, R. The Sacred Tradition In Ancient Egypt. Llewellyn Publications, 2000. This is a monumental tome on the esoteric wisdom of ancient Egypt.
  • Edelman, G.M. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire Basic Books, 1992. Many insights regarding the mind can be found in this work, many provocative thoughts will stimulate the student of consciousness.
  • Edelman, G.M., Tononi, G.: A Universe Of Consciousness Basic Books, 2000 Current views on consciousness and the brain by Nobel Laurite Gerald Edelman.
  • Jasper, H. Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain. Boston: Little Brown, 1954. For further reading on temporal lobe stimulation.
  • Libet, B., Gleason, C. A., Wright, E. W. and Pearl, D. K. "Time of Conscious Intention to Act in Relation to Onset of Cerebral Activity (Readiness-Potential: The Unconscious Initiation of a Freely Voluntary Act," Brain, 106 (1982), 623-42.
  • Marshall, L.H., Magoun, H.W. Discoveries in the Human Brain, Totowa; Humana Press, 1998. A good text for general reading about the cerebrum.
  • Muldoon, S., Carrington, H. The Projection of The Astral Body, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1929
  • Ojemann, G. A., Calvin, W. H. Conversations with Neil's Brain, Addison-Wesley 1994. An excellent discussion of brain function/stimulation.
  • Penfield, W. and Perot, P. 1963. The brain's record of auditory and visual experience. A final summary and discussion. Brain 86: 595-696. For a description of cortical stimulation case results, this material should be reviewed.
  • Penfield, W. The Mystery of the Mind Princeton University Press, 1975. The father of brain stimulation authored this most entertaining and informative book. It is a classic.
  • Schwaller de Lubicz, R.A. The Temple in Man" The Secrets of Ancient Egypt; Autumn Press 1977. For an enlightening discussion of the Temple of Luxor and its relationship to the human body, this out-of-print book can be obtained.
Bibliography for in-depth study of brain function and anatomy
  • For the serious student, a basic outline of what is required for further study can be found at: http://biology.about.com/science/biology/library/organs/brain/blbrain.htm
  • For an introductory course on Brain Basics, Higher Functions, Spinal Cord, Peripheral Nervous System, The Neuron, Sensory Systems, Methods and Techniques, Drug Effects and Neurological/Mental Disorders, see: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/introb.html
Hyperdimensional Physics
  • Pickover, C.A.: Surfing Through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons. Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Zollner, J.: "Transcendental Physics "