Past Events

Beyond the Brain: Conferences on Consciousness Research

Beyond the Brain Conferences have been running biennially since 1995. They were conceived by David Lorimer at a conference in Chicago in 1994 with the then President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Prof Willis Harman. IONS then co-hosted our first three meetings held at St John’s College, Cambridge. These landmark conferences have explored themes at the frontiers of consciousness studies, neuroscience, near-death experiences, psychology and healing. Topics and speakers at the conference series are listed below:

2015 – Free Spirits or Determined Machines?

Latimer Place, Chesham

Day 1

  • David Lorimer: The Mechanistic Metaphor, A Brief History

Day 2:

  • Professor Alfred Mele: Free Will and Neuroscience: What do Old-School and New-Wave Studies Show?
  • Nura Sidarus: How do we Know what we are Doing? Evidence for a Prospective Sense of Agency
  • Alison Armstrong: Paying Attention: How Mindfulness Relates to Habits
  • Professor Richard Davidson: Educating the Mind and Heart – Perspectives from Contemplative Neuroscience (video)

Day 3:

  • Professor Richard Silberstein: The Creative Brain, a Post-Materialistic Perspective
  • Ulisse Di Corpo and Dr. Antonella Vannini: Syntropy and the Attraction of Love: a Possible Explanation of Non-Locality and Retrocausality

Event Programme 2015

2013 – Shifting Consciousness: Brain, Mind and Self in the 21st Century

Latimer Place, Chesham

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Prospects for a Paradigm Shift

Day 2:

  • Mario Beauregard: The Elemental Psyche: A Post-Materialist Perspective
  • Marilyn Schlitz: Death Makes Life Possible: Cosmologies of the Afterlife in the 21st Century
  • Peter Owen Jones: A Quest for Well Being in the 21st Century
  • Dean Radin: Men Who Stare at Photons (by Skype)

Day 3:

  • Andrew Powell: Getting Real: where Science meets Spirit in the 21st Century
  • Kate Anthony: The Virtual Self

Event Programme 2013

2011- The Science of Empathy and the Spirit of Compassion

University of Winchester

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction: Empathetic Resonance and the Ethic of Interconnectedness

Day 2:

  • Karen Armstrong: The Charter Compassion: Wishing for a Better World
  • Iain McGilchrist: Erasmus or Machiavelli: Empathy and the Brain
  • Geshe Tashi Tsering: The Spirit of Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism

Day 3:

  • Professor Paul Gilbert: Benefits and Fears of Compassion: future directions in compassion research
  • Valeria Gazzola: Mirror Neurons: the Role of the Motor and Somatosensory system in Social Perception

Event Programme 2011

2009 – Self and Death – What Survives?

University of Kent, Canterbury

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction 

Day 2:

  • Professor Bruce Greyson: NDEs and Survival: Mapping the Territory
  • Peter Fenwick: Journey to Elsewhere – Who is the Traveller?
  • Andrew Powell: ‘Past-Life’ Memory – a Key to Understanding the Self
  • Professor Betty Kovacs: Experiencing the Mystery of Death – and Life 

Day 3:

  • Anabela Cardoso: Are ITC Phenomena Evidence of Survival of Physical Death?
  • Professor David Fontana: What Survives in the Afterlife and what might Survival be like?

Event Programme 2009

2007 – A Still Point in the Turning World: Contemplation in Action

Bath Spa University

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction

Day 2:

  • Carol Lee Flinders: ‘We Piece Alone, We Quilt Together’: paths of mystical activism
  • Andrew Newberg: Neuroscience and the Mystical Mind: why do we believe what we believe?
  • Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia: Entering the Heart: Contemplation in the Orthodox Church
  • Interview with Sir George Tavener: Silence, Contemplation and Composition

Day 3:

  • Camille Adams Helminski: Women and Sufism: Love and the Unity of Being
  • Professor Les Lancaster: The Brain above the Brain: mindfulness and correspondence in Jewish mysticism

Event Programme 2007

2005 - Memory Beyond the Brain

University of Lincoln

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction: Evidence for Memory Beyond the Brain

Day 2:

  • Professor John Gruzelier: Hypnagogia and Connections in the Brain: Creativity and Memory Retrieval
  • Ian McGilchrist: ‘I remember, I remember…’: Literature, Memory and the Brain
  • Professor Gary Schwartz: Does Everything Have Memory? Systemic Memory and the Evidence from Transplant Patients
  • Roz Carroll: The Body Remembers… Life’s Lessons and Loves

Day 3:

  • Professor Gary Schwartz: The Afterlife Experiments: Emerging Evidence for Survival of Consciousness
  • Pim van Lommel: Consciousness and the Brain: A New Concept from Research in Near-Death Experiences

Event Programme 2005

2003 - Healing, Prayer and Forgiveness: Frontiers in Consciousness

King’s School, Canterbury

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction
  • Larry Dossey, Dr. Peter Fenwick and David Lorimer: Video discussion on Prayer and Healing Research

Day 2:

  • Mitchell Krucoff and Suzanne Crater: Advancing the Boundaries of High-Tech Cardiac Care to Include Music, Imagery, Touch and Prayer – the MANTRA Project
  • Peter Fenwick: Healing, Prayer and Forgiveness – some neural Correlates
  • Janet Quinn: The Healing Relationship: A Spirituality for Healthcare Practice
  • Bart van der Lugt: Compassionate Midwifery in the Process of Dying

Day 3:

  • Jeffrey Levin: Faith, Love and Transcendence: An Epidemiological Perspective
  • Andrew Powell: Love and The Near Life Experience
  • Professor David Fontana: Psychology, Religion and Spirituality
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu: No Future without Forgiveness (special video message and TV programme)

Day 4:

  • Alexandra Asseily: The Garden of Forgiveness in Lebanon
  • Canon Beaumont Stevenson: Group Analysis as a Key in Exploring the Spiritual Dimension

2001 – Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives on Meditation

Ripon College, Yorkshire

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction: Science, Consciousness and Meditation

Day 2:

  • Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi: Kabbalistic Metaphysics and the Ascent of Jacob’s Ladder
  • Ram-Prasad Chakravarthi: Consciousness and its Transformation: the Role of Philosophical Analysis in Classical India
  • Professor James Austin: Zen and the Brain
  • Peter Fenwick: Subjective Correlates and the Neurophysiology of Meditation
  • Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn: Clinical Applications of Mindfulness Meditation
  • Andrew Powell: Dreams and Desires of the Unquiet Self

Day 3:

  • Professor Arthur Zajonc: Phenomena as Theory: Goethe, Steiner and the Encounter with Consciousness
  • Professor Jonathan Shear: Third-Person Research on Meditation: Can it Ever be Really Significant?
  • Jayanti: Exploring the Realms of the Soul with the Vehicle of the Inner Mind
  • Elizabeth West: Meditation in the Christian Tradition: Opening the Way to Unity

Day 4:

  • Professor Guy Claxton: Buddha’s Brain: the Neuroscience of Mindfulness
  • Alan Wallace: First-Person Methods of Exploring Consciousness in Tibetan Buddhism
  • Bisong Guo: Daoism and the Esoteric Art of Qigong
  • Professor David Fontana: Meditation as Transpersonal Experience

1999 – Does Individual Identity Extend Beyond Birth and Death?

St John’s College, Cambridge

Day 1:

  • David Lorimer: Introduction

Day 2:

  • Marilyn Schlitz: Images of the Afterlife: Cross-Cultural Views and Research Perspectives
  • Professor Erlendur Haraldsson: Three Perplexing Cases of Children who Speak of a Previous Life
  • Diane O’Connell with Professor David Fontana and Dr. Andrew Powell: The Nature of Channelling (workshop)
  • Professor Ravi Ravindra: Individual Identity: Beyond Identification with the Body
  • Dialogue between Ravi Ravindra and Geshe Ngawang: Hindu and Buddhist Models of Identity
  • Professor Charles Tart: Who or What Might Survive? Reflections-in-Progress on the Nature of Ultimate Identity (Live from the US)

Day 3:

  • Dr Andrew Powell: Beyond Space and Time: The Unbounded Psyche
  • De Michael Grosso: Brain, Consciousness and Life After Death: Towards a Convergence of Psychical Research and Transpersonal Psychology
  • Professor David Fontana: Otherworld Geography: The Nature of a Possible Afterlife.
  • Geshe Ngawang: A Tibetan Buddhist Perspective on the Possibility of Life beyond Death followed by meditation
  • Professor Peter Fenwick: Observations on the Threshold of Death

Day 4:

  • Professor Mark Woodhouse: What Survives During my Life? The Case for Energy Monism
  • Christine Page: Out of the Mouths of Babes

1997 – Frontiers in Consciousness and Healing

St. John’s College, Cambridge

Day 1:

  • Peter Fenwick: Psychiatry and the Sacred

Day 2:

  • Professor Kenneth Ring: Near-Death Experiences in the Blind: Can They Really See?
  • Kim Jobst: No Memory, No Self? Is There Anybody at Home? A Case Study
  • Tom Hurley: Healing the Social Body: Pathfinding for the 21st Century
  • Barbara Brennan: Healing Through the Human Energy Field: Living on the Pulse of Life (workshop)
  • Anne Baring: New Wine in New Bottles: The Changing Image of God

Day 3:

  • Professor Ervin Laszlo: The New Consciousness: Advances in Theory; Imperatives in Practice
  • Gillian Wright: Metaphysics and Healing: Microcosm and Macrocosm
  • Andrew Powell: Soul Consciousness and Human Suffering – Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Healing
  • Jean-Marc Mantel: Beyond Psychology – A Living Explanation of Properties Transcending the Mind

Day 4:

  • Roger Woolger: The Presence of Other Worlds in Healing and Psychotherapy
  • Anthony Stevens: What is Sacred?
  • Professor David Fontana: Eastern and Western Approaches to Consciousness and Self

1995 – New Avenues in Consciousness Research

St. John’s College, Cambridge

Day 1:

  • Professor Willis Harman: Towards a Science of Consciousness: Do We Need a New Epistemology?
  • Stanislav Grof: The Heuristic and Healing Potential of Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness
  • Professor Stuart Hameroff: Consciousness and Reality
  • Professor Chris Clarke: Modelling Participatory Consciousness
  • Professor Guy Claxton: Who’s in Charge Here? Identity and the Intelligent Unconscious
  • Marilyn Schlitz: Intention and Intuition: Implications of Consciousness Research for Treatment and Diagnosis in Mind-Body Health
  • Ervin Laszlo: Brains and Fields: Neuropsychological Implications of an Interconnected Universe

Day 2:

  • Peter Fenwick: Brain, Mind and Beyond
  • John Beloff: Physicalism and Paraspychology
  • Max Velmans: Consciousness Studies: Dissolving the Boundary between Psychology and Physics
  • Anne Baring: The Sleeping Beauty: the Awakening of Instinct into Consciousness
  • Edgar Mitchell: A Dyadic Model of Consciousness
  • Professor Brian Josephson: First Person Experience and the Scientific Exploration of Consciousness
  • Professor David Fontana: Altered States through Meditation and Dreams
  • David Lorimer: Survival: Memory Beyond the Brain
  • Professor Charles Tart: Enlightenment, Altered States, Endarkenment: What Lies Beyond Ordinary Mind?