Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind
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This is a courageous book that adds to the growing evidence that we must transform and expand our scientific view of consciousness to postulate its primacy and recover our own human dignity in the process. (Network Review)
Extensively referenced by chapter, plus a large bibliography and a good index, I really do recommend this book as it is a pleasure to read and she may well be correct in her interpretation of our existence. (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research)
One of the most deeply ingrained myths in modern western science is that the brain creates consciousness out of purely physical matter. This lies at the heart of conventional science, yet no neuroscientist on earth has even the vaguest notion of how that linkage might work. Neuroscientist Marjorie Woollacott recounts her own fascinating lifelong journey in pursuit of deeper understanding of the relationship between mind and brain, with the sharp, probing intellect and open mind of true scientific inquiry. Her beautifully rendered and personal story of discovery mirrors what is happening globally as science finally begins to address the deepest mystery known to all of human thought—the nature of consciousness itself. This emergent revolution in scientific thinking and acceptance of the primacy of consciousness will fundamentally change how we view our own individual lives, humanity, and the universe. The implications are world-changing! (Eben Alexander, MD, author of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife and The Map of Heaven: How Science, Religion, and Ordinary People are Proving the Afterlife)
This remarkably engaging account by a prominent brain scientist of her personal spiritual odyssey both describes and contributes to a rapidly emerging revolution in how we think about our minds, our selves, and our existence. (Edward F. Kelly, professor of research, Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia, and co-editor of Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality)
Marjorie Woollacott has written an intellectual adventure story of the highest order. Drawing on her own experience as a highly regarded neuroscientist and a long-term meditator, she skillfully and engagingly invites readers to reassess the common scholarly prejudice against parapsychology. In doing so, she brings us to the threshold of a genuine paradigm shift in thinking about the mind and the brain. (Thomas B. Coburn, visiting scholar, Brown University; president emeritus, Naropa University)
Marjorie Woollacott takes us on a voyage of discovery as she integrates her neuroscientific expertise and meditative insight. A candid, lively exploration in which scientific curiosity and spiritual seeking nourish each other, and in which mind is revealed to be much more than brain. (Paul Marshall, PhD, BSc, RGN, RMN)
Marjorie Woollacott has written a gripping account of her evolution after an unexpected experience forced her to question her neurophysiological training and explore the scientific research on expanded consciousness. What she learned challenged her basic assumptions about who we are, and it may permanently change yours as well. (Bruce Greyson, Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia Health System)
Marjorie Woollacott provides an admirably lucid survey of the challenges various phenomena pose to the materialist paradigm, leading persuasively to a new worldview in which consciousness is primary. It is a wonderful introduction to this material, one filled not just with important information, but also with heart and considerable wisdom. (Jim B. Tucker, Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and director of the Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia Health System)
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What impressed me is that I could view her book through two very different perspectives: it’s at once both scholarly and a very enjoyable read. As I read her book, I found myself going back and forth between enjoying the stories and examples she provided, and the scientific evidence and analysis she offers. I was truly surprised to see that there are quite a few MD’s, psychologists, and neuroscientists doing rigorous, peer-reviewed research into these areas. Dr. Woollacott not only summarizes this research very clearly but provides many compelling case-studies quoted in this research that seem impossible to explain in terms of our current understanding of the brain.
In addition to crafting a careful and thoughtful review of the research that supports the reality of NDEs, reincarnation, and energy healing, Dr. Woollacott also describes some of her own highly mystical experiences. This is perhaps one of the strongest elements in a book that has many compelling aspects to it. By telling her own story of being “awakened” by an Indian swami and of then having classic mystical experiences that most of us think could only have happened “way back when,” she adds her own impressive data point to the discussion about the nature of consciousness. I was fascinated to see how this experience was so powerful that it instantly turned her from an atheist into a person who knew beyond doubt that “something else” was going on. But then again, almost all the stories in this book were both dramatic and convincing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes one of those “milestone” books. The research she surveys and the personal transformation she shares are dramatic enough and credible enough to provoke intense conversation and debate. It’s hard to ignore what you’ll read in this book (unless you’re a scientist who prefers belief to data). As they say, once you’ve seen this material, you can’t unsee it.
While the book does repeat several well known NDEs and again discusses Ian Stevenson's studies on reincarnation, it is always with a fresh approach. In addition, this is one of the very few books that discusses our power to create our own reality through intention. Though not mentioned in the book, to me it is a tribute to the groundbreaking work of Werner Erhard and the Est Training of the 1970s.
Through personal experiences and hard line research, she weaves together a subject that excites the mind and the spirit, and challenges the reader to be open to an expanded sense of self. I highly recommend it.
Top international reviews
Woollacott has a lively, witty, conversational style, and makes complex theory – whether it be quantum physics, brain function or yogic philosophy – surprisingly easy to follow. In this book, she details research, her own and other people’s, into such subjects as the placebo effect, alternative healing therapies, near-death experiences, and possible instances of reincarnation. In one case of NDE, she compares the clinical record of zero brain activity during a near-fatal operation with the vivid post-operative recollection of the patient. She combines all this with glimpses of the personal exploration that has led her to conclude that the brain is a filter of consciousness rather than its source.
A truly fascinating book.
I found the QM part a bit too high level. Would have liked a bit more detail on how the bridge between brain and mind is crossed and the role QM plays here. Or maybe I simply missed the points made here.