Where's Lucy?

What can television, the TV show "I Love Lucy," and the brain teach us about life on earth?

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So where does that consciousness come from?

Scientifically minded believers in the brain-as-receiver theory (like Dossey) speak of trans-physical dimensions of consciousness: realms where things like thought and emotion can continue to exist even without a physical body to anchor them. Basically, they’re saying in modern terms exactly what traditional religious thought has always maintained: that though the body may die, “the signal remains.”

Picturing the regions beyond the body that consciousness returns to when the body dies is a daunting challenge, but that has never stopped people from trying to do so anyhow. The world’s spiritual traditions (and certain voices from the forefront of the scientific community) tell us that not only does our personality survive the death of the body and of the brain--it also grows larger when it leaves them behind. All of us, in this view, are like dim and diminished signals broadcast into the world of matter by our true, heavenly, more-than-simply-material selves. When we abandon the brain and body that so ably if imperfectly served us during our time on earth, we undergo an enlargement. An enlargement that is beyond the power of words to describe, but that, I suspect, might bear some resemblance to the difference between the tiny, two-dimensional, black-and-white figures moving about on a TV screen, and the living, breathing, flesh-and-blood actors whom those figures, in their dim and distant way, represent.

To go from life in the body to life beyond it--to go from earth to heaven--is like going from the tiny little black-and-white Lucy I knew from my TV screen as a kid to the full-sized, red-haired, living and breathing real-life Lucy those images were based on. Not only does “the signal” of our earthly selves remain when the body dies; so too does the incalculably greater being that that “signal” was based upon: the higher, heavenly being that religious traditions around the world speak of as comprising our truest and deepest identity. This is an identity that no earthly accident, no breakdown in machinery of any kind, can ever touch or harm.

How could it? For Lucy was never in the TV to begin with.

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Column: The Winged Life