Death was “the Biggest Gift”
A Feng Shui practitioner who died while on a life mastery course in Fiji was ready to leave his body, his widow believes. Stephanie Challis, pictured in the Nelson Mail (11 December 2002) smiling happily with her three children, told how her 41 year old husband Will had undergone a course of body cleansing which involved colonic hydrotherapy and drinking quantities of good quality water.
“He always played full out,” she said. “My guess is that he had seven or eight litres of water, thinking, ‘the more I drink, the cleaner I am’.” Mr Challis mentioned that he had been throwing up, but Mrs Challis, having previously done that when detoxifying, didn’t think too much of it. She said his sodium levels had become unbalanced, leading to loss of consciousness. Because they were on an island facilities were not available to rectify his sodium balance, and he was not given any oxygen.
“It appears his brain suffered massive oxygen starvation in that first 24 hours. The doctors tell me they will never know.”
Mrs Challis said she met her husband through training in Qi Gong, an ancient form of energy cultivation, and the basis of their relationship had always been spiritual. In the months leading up to his death, they had been “full out” on various courses. She believes he was on an unconscious level preparing to leave his body. “There are so many amazing coincidences. It all points to the fact that this was his time.”
Mrs Challis said she had remained positive throughout the ordeal, and did not blame anyone for what happened and, in fact, feels privileged that her husband shared the experience with her. “I was keeping the bigger picture in mind the whole time. When he died I felt incredibly peaceful and even joyful. I realise since that what he’s done has been the biggest gift he’s ever given me. I feel closer to him now than I’ve ever felt and deeply grateful for what he has taught me about life through his dying.”
Out-of-Body Experiences at the Flick of a Switch
Doctors say that out-of-body experiences (OBEs) may be triggered by stimulation in one part of the brain (Dominion, 23 September 2002). Writing in Nature, the Swiss researchers say they were able to trigger OBEs in a female patient. They say their work may explain the phenomenon of people reporting having “left” their body and watched it from above. The doctors were studying epilepsy by using electrodes to stimulate the woman’s brain. They found that stimulating the angular gyrus in the right cortex repeatedly caused OBEs. At first, the stimulations caused the woman to feel she was sinking into the bed, or falling from a height. When the strength of the current was increased, she reported feeling she had left her body. The doctors believe the angular gyrus matches up visual information and the representation of the body formed by the brain’s touch and balance faculties. When the two become dissociated, an OBE may result.
Mormon Researcher gets the Wrong Answer
Anthropologist Thomas Murphy faces expulsion from the Mormon Church after showing by DNA analysis that native Americans are not descended from ancient Israelites, as the church claims (Dominion Post, 9 December).
The Book of Mormon, made public by Joseph Smith in 1830, is a cornerstone of church doctrine and taken literally by the faithful. It teaches, among other things, that America was populated by Israelites who went to North America 600 years before Christ – a time within the reach of archaeology and genetics. Mr Murphy, of the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington, set out to test this, and his negative findings saw him charged with apostasy. It appears this is the first time a member of the Mormon Church has faced expulsion for genetic research.
Church leaders declined to comment on specifics of the case, but critics said they feared his excommunication would have a chilling effect on Mormon scholars who wanted to stay in the church.
Clone Petition Dismissed
The Raelians, of course, know full well that native Americans are not descended from Israelites. According to the cult they, and everyone else, owe their origin to extraterrestrials, who cloned themselves to produce the human race some 25 000 years ago. They’ve gained themselves a lot of publicity in the last few months with their claims to have produced human clones of their own (eg Dominion Post, 30 December). More recently (Reuters, 29 January) a Florida judge has dismissed a petition to appoint a state guardian for “Eve”, the first of three allegedly cloned babies, reportedly born on December 26. Clonaid, the company which claims to have produced the clones, says the baby is in Israel.
Expressing skepticism that a cloned child even existed, but expressing concern for its welfare if it did, Juvenile Court Judge John Frusciante said his court had no jurisdiction in the case. Clonaid president Brigitte Boisselier testified that the baby had never been anywhere near the United States.
Clonaid has produced no evidence for any of the clones. Scientists widely believe the assertions are a hoax to make money or garner publicity for the Raelians.
Boisselier, a French-born chemist who is a member of the Raelians, would not say where in Israel the child was, adding she did not know as she was no longer in contact with the parents. She also told the court that she had not seen the baby, although she had seen videotapes.
Bernard Siegel, a private citizen and attorney, filed the petition earlier this month asking for the state to appoint a guardian to supervise her care. He said that if “Eve” were indeed a cloned child she could face serious medical problems.
In dismissing the case, Frusciante made plain his concerns about cloning, citing at one point President Bush’s remarks during his State of the Union address on Tuesday in which Bush said no human should be started or ended as the object of an experiment and asked Congress to ban cloning.
Clonaid, which made the initial announcement of “Eve’s” birth at a hotel in Hollywood, Florida, backed away from its earlier promise to provide DNA proof of the cloning after Siegel filed his petition. The company, which does not reveal where it is located or anything about its finances, now says that it has deliberately cut links with “Eve’s” parents to ensure their privacy.
The lawyers representing Clonaid had urged Frusciante to dismiss the petition. “The case was a preposterous case, there was no basis for it,” attorney Jonathan Schwartz said after Wednesday’s hearing.
But Siegel said he was glad he presented the petition even though it failed, not least because it had prompted Boisselier’s testimony under oath that a cloned child existed and was in Israel. He added he hoped the Florida Department of Children and Families, which had representatives in court on Wednesday, would alert the relevant authorities in Israel to the possibility of a child in need of protection.
And now it’s Homeopathic Vets
The first output from a new diploma course in homeopathy graduated at the end of last year (Rural News, December 2). The four women are mostly veterinarians who have taken the course at the Bay of Plenty College Auckland Campus. New Zealand Homeopathic Council president Joan Goddard says the qualification is unique, and is the first time that basic medical knowledge has been taught beside homeopathic treatment and diagnosis in an animal health course.
Students take a part-time one-year foundation course before electing to complete the two or three-year diploma.
Goddard says most of the students graduating this year are veterinarians looking to extend their treatment capabilities.
“Vets treat the diploma as an additional skill to use on herds and do not rely solely on homeopathics.”
She hopes the course will set up a list of standard homeopathic treatments for various animal conditions, as many current practitioners depend on personal experiences to treat animals. Twelve students should graduate in 2004, with similar numbers going through the course.
Goddard hopes course numbers will gradually grow but says there are only a limited number of people to teach students. Well that’s something, I suppose.