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Seeing & Hearing What Lies Within "White Noise"
by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 28, 2005
"I am inclined to believe that our personality hereafter will be able to affect matter. If this reasoning be correct, then if we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something." -Thomas Edison in 1920
Singapore -- Thus read the introduction to the theme of "White Noise" during the opening sequence of the film, which explores the implications of "Electronic Voice Phenomenon." In "White Noise", Michael Keaton plays a man who has lost his beloved wife in an accident, who desperately tries to communicate with her via EVP. EVP refers to the possibility of receiving audio and visual messages from the deceased through the static white noise of modern household electronic devices such as phones, televisions and radios. Sounds like some far-fetched "new-age" mumbo-jumbo? Well, even Einstein, the greatest scientist of the last century, was open to the possibility that life may have "echoes" in the fabric of space and time.
If EVP is a reality, every one of the some seven billion audio and video recording devices in our world is a potential medium of communication for beings on life's other side. However, EVP sounds and images are usually vague or blurred in nature, or they would have been acknowledged by mainstream science long ago. Then again, mainstream science, with its endless revisions of conclusions about the nature of the universe, is no concrete authority on reality. As with much of other psychic phenomena, it is difficult for scientists to clearly discern EVP's factuality, most probably because its nature is not natural, but "super-natural".
As discovered in the classic Rorschach (inkblot) test, which uncovers our innate psychological inclinations, it is human nature to tend to seek order within chaos, to see patterns in otherwise "random" sounds and images - even if it is merely an ordinary television screen tuned to "nothing" in particular. Sometimes we perceive what we perceive. Yet other times, we perceive what we want to perceive. This is where honesty, mindfulness and wisdom come in, to enable us to discern the duo clearly. This is also why increasing these qualitites are of paramount importance for our spiritual awakening. The moment we can perceive everything with crystal clarity is Enlightenment itself. Anything lesser means there is the clutter of mental "white noise" to some extent, caused by distracting wandering thoughts, which can manifest as delusional hallucinations.
"White Noise" forces materialists to question their notions of life after death. Does our mental energy continually morph and move on without dissipation into nothingness? Yes, according to Buddhism. As in the law of conservation of energy, energy can neither be created or destroyed, but only transformed from one form to another. Since the mind can will itself to manipulate matter, it is ultimately the most powerful force in the universe. So powerful it is that the mind will not simply fade into oblivion after the demise of our physical body, especially when coupled with the force of craving to live again. When one's unliberated consciousness does not undergo a proper rebirth, one becomes stuck in a limbo state as a wandering spirit.
Thus, what EVP contacts should largely be the consciousnesses of wandering spirits, who have strong unresolved craving. Usually, this craving is in terms of attachment to loved ones, and aversion, which can be thoughts of exacting revenge onto surviving enemies. Some may hang around indefinitely till they realise the futility of doing so.
It is believed that EVP recordings are essentially not recordings of actual voices and appearances of the deceased. Instead, they are formed through the "thickening" of available sound and light energy that flickers within electronic equipment. Some of the strongest evidence for the validity of EVP is when the messages transmitted are obviously responses to specific questions of their loved ones. If EVP is true, it further confirms the power of our mental energy, which in Buddhism is believed to be magnified up to seven times upon departure from the body at death. This is how the energy of spirits might be able to interact with electronic devices' electrical energy to transmit messages by will. It also explains how the presence of supernatural activity occasionally disrupts electrical appliances such as lighting.
Is it safe to experiment with EVP? Different people would have different opinions. Skeptics would think it is a utter waste of time to stare and listen to white noise. While some claim to have received endearing messages with departed ones, some have also encountered harsh and even violent messages from unfamiliar unseen beings. Statistically, about one in twelve EVP messages worldwide are of this unkind, or even downright evil nature. While EVP might occur to some as an effective avenue to communicate with the dead, either for proper much desired communication or simply as a "parlour game", it is perhaps more advisable to simply continually dedicate spiritual merits to the deceased for their well-being, to assure them of the happiness of those they leave behind, to persuade them to dissolve their hatred to their enemies, and to take on a good rebirth. Continual EVP communication with the deceased, especially with the same personalities, might create the danger of extending attachment indefinitely. This is detrimental to the spiritual well-being of both the contactor and the contacted.
What the movie does not explores is that which lies beyond the state of wandering spirits. It does not explain the possibilities of actual rebirth after death. This is where audience interested in the Buddhist perspective can "fill in the blanks" - with the aid of Dharma scriptures and treatises, such as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead", which expounds on the intricate dynamics of life and death in detail.