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Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake: Two Heretics Converse and Challenge the Mainstream Narrative on Consciousness

This is a treat all our readers will enjoy: A Zoom conversation between two of our all-time TDG favorites —Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake— recorded on November of 2021 for the Beyond the Brain conference series, in which the two heavyweights of alternative thinking hold no punches, and just go all the way with the deepest questions in the history of deep questioning: What is the nature of consciousness? Is there a reason why we exist at all? What happens to us when we die?

And the title of this post is not just a sensationalistic gimmick on my part: Lest we forget that it’s been almost 9 years since TED took the shameful decision of deleting the two lectures given by both authors for TEDx Whitechapel from their webpage, at the behest of skeptics who complained about the ‘unscientific’ nature of their presentations –nine years?? Time sure does fly when one is busy bringing down the current materialistic paradigm!

Truth be told, much has changed in the world in these nine years. For starters, Ayahuasca –the main theme behind Hancock’s banned presentation back in 2013– is no longer a fringe topic in obscure forums and bulletin boards, and it is well on its way of becoming a recognized mainstream therapeutic tool for the treatment of many psychological problems, including acute depression and substance addiction, alongside many other psychedelic drugs which are having a second comeback from the ashes of the 60’s revolution –which will bring a new set of problems now that billionaires and pharmaceutical companies are being lured by new business opportunities, as Sheldrake points out during the discussion.

As for the ‘hard problem’ of Consciousness, which has been the subject of most of Sheldrake’s bibliography, it remains as intractable as ever, despite the huge advances made in A.I. and computer algorithms. Having neurologists finally throwing up their hands, and admitting that perhaps they should start giving a serious look at the possibility that consciousness is not confined to the boundaries of our skull does still seem rather improbable –but then again, if back in 2013 someone had told me UFOs would finally break the glass ceiling of respectability through an article in the New York Times in just four more years(!) I would have considered that another pipe dream.

As someone who has recently gone through the painful death of a parent, the most significant part of the video is when Sheldrake speculated about life after death, and the many similarities it may have with dreaming —“When we die we go on dreaming, but we can’t wake up anymore”, as he put it– which opens up the very elegant and non-dogmatic possibility that our afterlives (which could very well overlap with the dreamworlds of other beings we’ve known) may end up being composed not only of our hopes, expectations and life experiences… but also of our traumas and terrors.

Indeed, we may be building the customized heavens and hells we shall dwell in after we stop drawing breath, with every single action we take and every little thought we have while we still do. So perhaps you should spend less time fighting with trolls over Twitter, and more time hanging out in Nature and with your loved ones –while you still can.

Death is a moment of reckoning when we must come to terms with the life we’ve lived, and hopefully we emerge from life a more grown and slightly more perfected person than we entered it. That seems to me to be the Egyptian view and I kind of like it.

~Graham Hancock
  1. “Is consciousness independent of the brain”? A question most satisfactorily answered by physicist Tom Campbell, I unreservedly recommend the deeply elegant model of reality he presents which is very much as Hancock and Sheldrake intimate. Ultimately not only is consciousness not an emergent phenomena of neurology but neurology and the rest of what we experience as the physical universe is an emergent property of consciousness. On reading that last statement many will naturally assume I’m employing some form of sophistry, but no. –

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