Studies of the near death experience (NDE) and out-of-body experience (OBE) could benefit from a different clinical approach: Studying human biophoton emissions under certain conditions may allow us to learn more about the OBE and NDE consciousness states and their deeper implications. We propose a project employing the different approach described herein.
The project’s description here involves, 1) an anticipated means of safely inducing the OBE during clinical trials, 2) establishing preliminary clinical research project parameters, and 3) a proposed way to fund the clinical research.
A Different Way to Clinically Study the OBE and NDE
Studies of the Near Death Experience: Inducing the OBE during clinical trials
A critical stumbling block that has prevented science from expansive clinical study of the OBE is the inability to induce this state in the laboratory in a safe, acceptably dependable manner. However, a way around this problem presents itself:
When we look back at antiquity, we find that Buddhists, Hindus and others used a particular plant to achieve states that we today call the OBE and the NDE, the latter described as characterized by the bliss-inducing Divine Light and the opening of otherworldly, populated realms to human perception. The plant used, called Soma, was not a hallucinogen in that it produced these and other very consistent results. Practitioners typically had many years yet to live in good health when using the plant to experience these special consciousness states: Soma was used as an anti-aging substance to extend life span, and it was considered a health panacea for all internal and external diseases and conditions, making it a very safe, highly-coveted plant.
Long Soma usage (over many centuries, if not thousands of years) and comparing notes convinced ancient sages that people are much more than the physical bodies we are normally aware of: Ancient people became convinced (through Soma usage), via their firsthand consciousness experiences, that there are populated realms (e.g. planes of the Brahma world) beyond that which can be experienced during the normal waking state or the normal dream state. Ancient adepts were convinced that we are all endowed with an immortal luminous body (a living light body) that can freely operate within unseen realms and elsewhere.
It was believed that getting in direct touch with this ‘inner self’ (through the use of Soma and fasting) allowed users to experience their Higher or True Consciousness—their eternal self or the state some call Buddha Consciousness / Enlightenment, and also to communicate with the ‘Amitabha’ (Sanskrit for “Measureless Light),2 believed to exist outside of ordinary reality, and also to experience what some called the Mind Made Body (the freed luminous body) and the ability to see the light body emitted by others when in the Soma-induced state (enabling what was considered seeing through the dharma eye or having ‘second sight’ through the ‘mind’s eye’).
For example, texts of the Digha Nikaya (Collection of Long Discourses of the Buddha), written in about 490 B.C. or later, concern what was called the “Mind-Made Body,3 and bring the OBE clearly to mind:
“..out of this body he produces another body, having a form, mind-made, complete in all its limbs and faculties.”
The Samaññaphala Sutta, also from the Digha Nikaya, reads like experiences we today call the OBE:4
“He enjoys different powers…he appears and disappears, he passes through fences, walls, and mountains unhindered as if through air; he sinks into the ground and emerges from it as if it were water; he walks on the water without breaking the surfaces as if on land; he flies cross-legged through the sky like a bird with wings, he even touches and strokes with his hand the sun and moon, mighty and powerful as they are; and he travels in the body as far as the Brahma world.”
Professor of archaeology Elizabeth Wayland Barber, in her book The Mummies of Urumchi (2000), summarized Soma usage this way:5
“By imbibing soma/haoma, we are told, one journeyed to the Other World to experience the true reality as ordained by the deities, learning beyond all doubt that this world of ours is the illusory one.”
Owing to a long history of wars and other unfortunate circumstances, Soma was lost to the ancient Hindus, Buddhists, and others, and modern botanists have not been able to identify it. Some researchers have worked hard on the problem, but the plants they propose do not live up to either Soma’s ancient reputation or satisfy its recorded physical features.
As a historian specializing in ancient historical detective work, I spent years tracing the Soma plant through different ancient histories to be able to show its identity in modern biological nomenclature (having written a 145-page paper, fully-referenced and with photos and many cross-checking mechanisms to underpin and prove this point). Now that Soma is botanically identified, there is once again the potential for the plant to serve the greater good.
Biophotons and Consciousness: Clinical Research Project Parameters
Owing to the results reported for Soma during antiquity, which, due to extensive documentation by many hands over very long periods, appears to be at least acceptably repeatable for modern research, I anticipate that the plant could be tested in clinical trials to learn more about the OBE, NDE, and other special and general consciousness states, and more about the workings of human physiology.
Today, biologists understand that visible light particles are present in each of our trillions of body cells. Some advocate that these biophotons engage in cellular communications, which can suggest some form of organized capacity or coherent light form within our bodies.6
This brings to mind the ancient belief that everyone is invested with a luminous body. For example, the Roman poet Virgil (70-19 B.C.) wrote:
“And every soul is filled with equal flame.”7
The proposed research project involves observing the bodily light pattern (made collectively by the trillions of bio photons in body cells due to chemical reactions) during a Soma-induced OBE or other altered state. It would not be surprising to find encouraging results: Quantum physics has shown that quantum particles, such as photons, take us into ‘territory’ that is outside of time and space (since photons do not experience time or space),8 and that photons (and other quantum particles) can be in two or more places at once under some circumstances.9 Some biological processes have been shown to be quantum mechanical in nature. The presence of bio photons in brain cells has prompted exploration of the potential for quantum optical communication channels within the brain.10
The proposed experimentation, attempting to observe the behavior of bioluminescence during the OBE or other altered state, will anticipate the potential for the body’s cellular light pattern (or some portion of it) to be present in and out of the body at the same time and/or demonstrate other quantum activity of special interest.
A very sensitive imaging system is required to study cellular photons, which are 1,000 times too weak to be seen with the naked eye. Such equipment could be employed to observe the behavior of bioluminescence during an OBE, during which any changes in the brain and nervous system states could also be measured.
The image shows a man internally glowing with bioluminescence in a 2009 study by Japan’s Tohoku Institute of Technology, with the light visual made possible by ultra-sensitive imaging equipment.11
If patterned bioluminescence is detected leaving the body or exhibiting different behavior during an OBE or altered state, it will encourage research into other quantum events and conditions the light pattern may undergo. Knowledge gained may prompt additional research on the NDE (a deeper, more mysterious form of the OBE).
Today, altered states of consciousness are sometimes studied with the use of hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD or other restricted or illegal substances, and such studies involve considerable governmental red tape. Whereas, the plant identified as the ancient Soma is classified as a legal plant today, making clinical trials much less difficult to set up.
Funding the research
Many interesting ideas and projects are never funded. However, Soma is a valuable plant that could be made to pay for ongoing research if properly managed to do so. Soma will hopefully someday serve many people globally, including Hindus, Buddhists and others who remember and appreciate Soma as sacred. Billions of people worldwide without adequate health care may greatly benefit from Soma, too: The plant was once used for complex and serious diseases, acute and chronic conditions, severe pain and injuries, and other internal and external health maladies. This now rare plant once flourished and had a cross-cultural ancient reputation as a medical panacea that could greatly prolong life span in robust health. Today, in the U.S., no FDA drug approval is required; given that the identified plant is classified as legal (and can be used as a food supplement or burned as incense).
In the meantime, however, steps must be taken to move from the re-discovery stage to the point at which Soma can serve humanity in a tangible way. For example, it will be important to perform DNA testing between ancient samples and modern specimens to be sure that the authentic species (and not a closely-related, less effective species) is offered for research and other purposes. This is possible because I have identified places where Soma still grows and museums that possess ancient samples suitable for DNA testing.
Bringing the proposed research project to fruition will require forming a qualified committee of dedicated individuals with the needed skills and/or life experience (including professionals within the NDE community and scholars qualified to recognize and endorse the veracity of my Soma findings). In this scenario for moving forward, funding OBE / NDE and related consciousness research could involve advanced sales of incense or other products made from the authentic species (amounting to dedicated ‘people power’ funding the proposed research). This assumes that funding (from advanced sales) is sufficient for DNA testing and for the authentic species to be carefully grown in increasing quantities under pristine conditions.
I am hopeful that Soma will flourish again and serve the greater good, and that my proposed Soma-based approach to studying the OBE / NDE and other special consciousness states will be seriously considered. It could conceivably lead to a greater scientific understanding than we have today.
About Margaret Morris
I served for years as the Assistant Director of the former Institute for Applied Archaeological Sciences (IAPAS), founded in 1983 at Barry University, Miami Shores, FL. The IAPAS was established to recover worthwhile lost ancient technology and to enhance the clarity of nebulous ancient history. I served for over a decade as a historical assistant to the internationally-recognized founder of the chemistry of geo polymerization, Dr. Joseph Davidovits, founder of the Geopolymer Institute, in Saint Quentin, France. I served as the Associate Editor, under Dr. Robert M. Price, of Drew University’s Journal of Higher Criticism. And I have published technical papers in the Journal of Geological Education / other; written and co-authored books (e.g., highest American Library Association reviews 1988 Booklist). I currently serve in a technical capacity as an Advisor to Quohog Life Sciences, in Bangalore, India.
- For the NDE as a deeper OBE, see Roberts, G, Owen, J. (1988), “The Near-Death Experience, British Journal of Psychiatry, 153, pp. 607-617. London, pub. The Royal College of Psychiatrists; van Lommel, P., van Wees, R., Meyers, V., Elfferich, I. (2001), “Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A prospective Study in the Netherlands, The Lancet, December 15; 358 (9298), pp. 2039-45..
- Buswell, R.E., et al. (2013), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton & Oxford, Princeton University Press, p. 35.
- Kalupahana, D., et al. (1998), The way of Siddhartha: a life of the Buddha, Ratmalana, Sri Lanka, Sarvodaya Vishva Lekha Pub., p. 94.
- Swearer, D.K. (2004), Becoming the Buddha: The Ritual of Image Consecration in Thailand, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, p. 154.
- Barber, E.W. (2000), The Mummies of Urumchi, New York, W.W. Norton, p. 163.
- MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/427982/biophoton-communication-can-cells-talk-using-light/
- Virgil, Dryden, J. (1810), The Works of Virgil, Vol. 3, London, J. Sharp, p. 104.