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Consciousness Without Brain - Startling Facts
Is it possible to think without using the brain? The Bhagavad-gita answer is - yes. How? It is possible to think without using the brain, but not necessarily without using mind. The mind, thus, must be understood as something completely different from the brain. The Bhagavad-gita explains that the non-material conscious entity, the soul, is covered by a gross and subtle covering. The gross covering, the body of flesh and bones, is made up of earth, water, fire, air and ether. The subtle covering is made up of mind, intelligence and false ego. This is just like the outer coat and the inner shirt a person wears. Here the mind acts as a storehouse of thoughts, feelings, previous experiences, unfulfilled desires and is different from the brain. When the soul leaves one body and moves on to another body,the subtle body also travels with the soul. Thus it is clear that the brain pertains to one physical body and is finished at the death of that body, whereas the mind travels with the soul life after life. Both the gross and the subtle coverings upon the soul are material, whereas the soul is a non-material being that transcends the material world. He uses these coverings in the material world only to interact with the objects of this world. In this section, we will now see actual examples of persons who, with their brains either partially or wholly destroyed, continued to live and think normally. Many of these examples are taken from the article of Vincent H. Gaddis, "With Brain Destroyed They live & Think" in the summer issue of FATE magazine, Vol. 1, No.2,1948
.(1) The first startling case is that of Phineas Gage, a railroad foreman who, while charging a exist hole with powder preparatory to blasting, suffered the accident of having a tamping - bar, three and a half feet long, driven completely through his skull. The bar "passed through the left anterior lobe of the cerebrum - and made its exit at the junction of the coronal and sagittal sutures, fracturing the parietal and frontal bones and breaking up considerable portion of the brain." Removal of the bar left a hole three and a half inches in diameter.Gage did not lose consciousness. In fact he walked a considerable distance for medical aid. He remained completely rational until recovery and lived normally for many years afterward.Today, the original bar, together with a cast of the patient's skull, is on exhibition in the Harvard University Medical Museum.
2) The next startling case is that of a male infant born at St. Vlncent's Hospital, New York City, in 1935. He lived 21 days ^thout a brain, "but defied all orthodox concepts of Physiology by eating, crying & reacting to pain and other stimuli." There was no indication that the baby was abnormal until autopsy was performed when it was discovered that the cranial cavity contained only fluid.
(3)That memory remains unaffected despite brain destruction is demonstrated in the case of a man reported by Dr Gould and Dr Pyle.He suffered from a cerebral tumor that ultimately caused his death. Autopsy revealed a cavity in the brain at least five inches in length. The patient, nevertheless, not only had his sense and locomotor muscles in perfect control up to the instant of death, but also revealed excellence of memory retention by steadily memorizing poems to within two weeks of his passing.
(4) Sometimes surgical removal of brain substance, instead of producing the expected impairment of mental functions,actually brings about the opposite effect.The American Psychiatric Association reports the case of a woman who, after one operation involving the extirpation of the entire right prefrontal lobe and most of the left lobe, became more even-tempered, more retentive in memory and more powerful in concentration. How did these persons manage to retain their intellectual faculties, despite the widespread and sometimes complete destruction of their brains?
An amoeba, brainless as it is, is yet able to react to stimulation, as if it were aware or conscious of its environment. It is clear from the abovementioned events that the brain is not the control center for all our thoughts, feelings and desires; rather the brain is a dead material substance that is used by the soul as a tool for perceiving phenomena or sensations and transforming them into ideas. All mental, emotional and physical life emanates from the soul, the non-material entity or personality, but it courses through the brain and the entire nervous system for expression and manifestation.It is thus becoming more and more evident even to positivistic scientists themselves that the brain is only a secondary organ directed by a deeper, more subtle, non-physical source, the soul.