Surgeon Searches for the Soul

Neurosurgeon Dr. John L. Turner Looks Where Others Dare Not

There is one short question that sums up mankind’s greatest concern: Are brain and mind one and the same? If, as mainstream science chooses to believe, they are the same, we live in a purely mechanistic world without any real meaning, and we are all marching toward an abyss of nothingness. The materialist who waves the banner of human­ism will argue that meaning is found in building a better world for future generations, but that begs the question of what future generations will strive for once they have achieved that “better world”—apparently a world of peace and harmony offering unsurpassed comforts, conveniences, and pleasures, but still a world in which the prospect of total extinction is no different than now. Will those future generations find themselves like the Romans of Nero’s time eat­ing, drinking, and being merry with no real goals in life beyond their hedonistic pursuits? Aren’t we already well into that state?

If, however, the brain is not the same as mind, the inference is that consciousness is a product of the mind and rests outside the physical organ called the brain. This suggests that we are more than our physical shells—that we are, as most religions have taught, spiritual beings of some kind or other. In that case, the mind might be synony­mous with soul. The question then turns to whether that soul survives physical death and continues on in other realms of existence.

As a long-time neurosurgeon, Dr. John L. Turner is very familiar with brain matter. He has studied it, examined it, dissected it, and repaired it many times in his 18 years of surgical practice, followed by 11 years of consulting prac­tice, most of which has been served in Hilo, Hawaii, where he lives and practices now on a limited basis. In his recent­ly-published book, Medicine, Miracles, and Manifestations, (The Career Press, Inc.), which discusses his experiences with energy medicine, Turner states that he had often wondered if we are merely “brief candles strutting and fretting on the stage of life, only to be extinguished when the play ends.” Various experiences during his practice led him to believe that such is not the case, but it was not until recently, after cutting back his practice to occasional consulta­tions that he has been able to pull it all together and begin to view it systematically.

Turner now devotes several hours a day to exploring matters which seemingly fall outside the mainstream medi­cal paradigm. Planning a trip early next year to study the Brazilian healer known as John of God, Turner is also heavy into the study of near-death experiences, remote viewing, electronic voice phenomena (EVP), orbs, and the language of Alzheimer’s patients.

“But what interests me the most these days is the connection between true forgiveness and unconditional love,” Turner offers. “I believe the evidence coming to us through hypnotic regressions, near-death experiences, out-of­-body experiences, and mediums is clear that we live a multitude of lives, perhaps some simultaneously and others in keeping with reincarnation; and that when a life reaches its end, one is given a period of time to review the lessons learned (and perhaps not fully learned) during that life time, and then a period to reflect and refine the lessons for the next incarnation, much as the Buddhists’ belief that is akin to passing the flame from one candle to another. Many of the ‘teachings’ that patients report at the end of life involve lessons of love.”

As Turner thinks back on it, energy medicine started to become part of his practice around 1995. “Before that, I didn’t employ energy healing methods, even though I became increasingly aware of them,” he recalls, adding that his interest in such matters began while pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at Ohio State University. “I was given the book, The Sleeping Prophet, about Edgar Cayce. That completely changed the course of my life, pulled me into a search for oth­er dimensions and the spiritual world, and it was the primary factor in my changing from physics to medicine.”

Still, it wasn’t until reading the books, Into the Light by Dr. William Campbell Douglass and The Secret Life of Plants, by Tompkins and Bird, during 1995 that things began to fall into place. “It was during a period of forced rusti­cation resulting from a marital separation that I took the books on light therapy and experiments with plants, both of which were gifts from patients, to read in the country,” he relates. “I was astounded to learn something never taught in medical school—the fact that all cells of the body emit light in the ultraviolet range and in the visible light range. And I became aware of the fact that not only do plants emit similar light, but they are able to tune into human emo­tions and perhaps even human thought.”

Turner next read about the life of Mokichi Okada and his practice of Jorei, which Okada called The Medical Art of Japan. “Okada’s work centered around three crucial themes,” Turner explains. “First, the proven fact that natural foods—fruits and vegetables—grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers were important in the diet to help eliminate and prevent disease. Second, the appreciation of art and beauty, such as flower arranging and the tea cere­mony, which can literally lift one’s spirit. In fact, the Japanese word Jorei means uplifting of the spirit.

“The third and equally important component was the channeling of the physical-spiritual light from the palm of the hand for healing purposes.”

While the Jorei channeler appears to be working like the Reiki practitioner, there is definitely a distinction, Turn­er points out. Reiki involves directing a “universal energy” to the patient, while Jorei is channeling of a specific spiri­tual energy, that of Mokichi Okada, who currently resides in the spiritual world.

Turner spent 10 days in Japan studying Jorei and returned to Hilo on Christmas Day, 1995. At the hospital the following day, he was approached by Dr. Sam deSilva, whose patient was suffering from Xmas Disease (a type of hemo­philia) and was in a comatose condition. After studying the patient’s scans, Turner suggested to deSilva that he at­tempt to treat the patient with a blend of Eastern and Western medicine. DeSilva confessed ignorance but gave Turn­er permission to talk to his patient’s family about what he had in mind.

After explaining his Western medicine approach, which involved clotting factor replacement, vitamin K infusion, and transfusions of fresh frozen plasma in advance of surgery to remove a hematoma, Turner told them of the Okada method, which called for channeling Okada’s light to the patient. He showed them his o-hikari amulet and gave them a rundown on the spiritual cords that link to Okada and also recommended a fresh flower arrangement at bedside. Dr. deSilva apparently looked on with a very perplexed expression.

After consent was given, fresh flowers were brought to the bedside, and a Jorei channeler came in daily for the three days before surgery. Following the surgery, Turner gave the patient 20 minutes of intraoperative Jorei, “letting Okada’s light flow through a spiritual cord to me, and then to my patient.”

According to Turner, the recovery was spectacular. Shortly after the patient’s discharge, the patient’s oldest son, a pump technician for cardiac surgery in Honolulu, approached Turner to thank him and also tell him that prior to the surgery, he and another brother watched the Jorei channeler administering to their father, and they were certain that they saw traces of light extending from the channeler’s hands to their father.

In another case, Turner was called in on a gunshot victim. The 26-year-old man had been pronounced brain-dead and his mother was asked about donating his organs. However, when she heard that Turner, who had treated her son some years before, was in the hospital, she asked that he take a look at her son while mentioning that her son had squeezed her hand a short time before. By the time Turner got to him, the respirator had been discontinued and only occasional agonized breaths were detected. He determined that the young man was not “brain dead,” but his condi­tion was so bad that there were concerns as to whether attempts should be made to put him back together again.

The young man, who prefers to remain anonymous (but whom we’ll call Daniel), was contacted by phone for this article. “I don’t know how to explain it, but while I was supposedly dead, I saw Dr. Turner driving down the road in his Ferrari and into the parking lot; and then when he was examining me and asking me to squeeze his hand, I was standing right there next to him,” Daniel recalled. “It was very strange. And the other thing is that my grandmother, who passed away in 1988, was there at the foot of the bed telling me that everything would be okay and not to worry.”

Daniel also recalled that eight years before the injury, he was on an automobile trip and was discussing organ do­nations with his traveling companion. He clearly remembered being concerned that he might be in some kind of ac­cident, ending up in a coma, and having his organs removed when he was not actually dead. Over the next several years he had recurring thoughts about this and of being near death while having his kidneys removed. As a result, he decided then not to sign an organ donation card.

In the operating room, Turner applied Jorei for 30 minutes immediately after removing the necrotic tissue and bullet fragments as the head OR nurse and the scrub nurse looked on, no doubt with some amazement. “I explained to them that it was not my energy being transmitted, but that of Mokichi Okada, who currently resides in the spirit world,” Turner says.

Although Daniel has no recollection of the surgery, he does recall receiving Jorei treatments after the surgery and feeling heat coming from the hands of the Jorei channeler. He further recalls one of the channelers sensing some­thing wrong in the abdomen area, a problem he was not aware of at the time but which, seven months later, showed up as gall stones.

The Okada Jorei is “spiritual light” Turner explains when asked if the surgical gloves he is shown wearing in a photo in his book do not obstruct the healing rays. “It does not matter any more than clothing, which is not removed for treatment.”

Turner also recalls a case in which a malignant brain tumor disappeared after seven Buddhists monks intervened; and still another case—one involving brain surgery—in which he seemed to have exhausted all options to control se­vere and massive bleeding before asking for assistance by means of prayer. It apparently worked as the surgery was successful.

But even when unsuccessful in saving a patient, Turner came to see spiritual implications. He studied reports of near-death experiences and “began to realize that we have a spirit that does not extinguish at death but lives on to be­gin a new journey.”

Of course, Turner realizes that skeptics will ask how anyone can possibly know whether Jorei and prayer were fac­tors in the healing of these patients. Who is to say that they would not have recovered with the Western treatment alone? “It is a difficult pill for science to swallow,” he says, “but there is a research institute in Japan where Okada’s Jorei is studied scientifically. I have been there twice. There is evidence available for anyone who wants to really study it.”

While his blending of Western and Eastern medicine would no doubt raise eyebrows in many parts of the Main­land USA, Turner says he has never been criticized or ridiculed, at least to his face, in Hilo. He mentions that he had recently talked with a Mainland surgeon who had her staff privileges removed after using remote viewing during sur­gery. “I remember a doctor in Ashville, North Carolina, saying that some lawyers, at the behest of drug companies, were threatening to pull physicians’ medical licenses if they practiced non-traditional medicine, as it was not in keep­ing with ‘the standard of care’ in the area,” he nods. “So here, on this island, where no neurosurgeon ventured before, due to lack of equipment and income limitations, I had no opposition at all, but rather, encouragement to do what I felt best for the patient.”

A planned project with Dr. Eldon Taylor and Dr. Ingrid Irwin, along with Ernie Morgan, a general systems theo­rist, involves an analysis of patients with Alzheimer’s disease that are reduced to the stage of babble speech. “We be­lieve that there is some meaning in the babble and that we can find out what it is by a careful investigation of this speech using specialized techniques,” he explains.

Turner is also involved with two films—Spirit! being produced by Vivienne Somers and Anna Reeves, and Quan­tum Wisdom, being directed by Nick Mendoza. “Each deals with presenting evidence for the afterlife that will leave viewers to decide if this proof substantiates the case for the afterlife beyond a reasonable doubt,” he adds.

Turner’s interest in Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) is fairly re­cent and was encouraged by Martin Simmonds, a resident of England, who helped Turner construct his website at After they talked about EVP and ITC, Simmonds complained of abdominal pain and died from cancer shortly thereafter. In some recent experiments, Turner seems to have made EVP contact with his old friend.

Does Turner see any hope for energy medicine being accepted by Western physicians? “Unfortunately,” he shrugs, “many physicians stand fast to their allopathic (conventional) training and refuse to budge even in the face of verifia­ble evidence of the efficacy of incorporating universal energy techniques into their bag of tools.” However, he be­lieves that in time, when selfishness takes a back seat to love, they will “see the light.”

As an afterthought, Turner suggests that physicians who try to add non-conventional techniques should keep in mind the Bulgarian proverb, “The wolf who acts alone must have a thick neck.”

DIFFERING TAKES ON THE AFTERLIFE In a recent Internet article, Philip Bender, an American teaching English to Chinese doctors, asked his students for their views on the afterlife. He found that, like Westerners, they had euphemisms for death, including, “closed their eyes,” “left the world,” “gone to the Western sky,” and, for important people, “hung up,” or “gone to see Chairman Mao.” As to whether they actually believed in an afterlife, the responses were mixed. None of them appeared to have a conviction in this regard, but some of them expressed the traditional belief in spirits. Most were ambivalent or skepti­cal.

Surprisingly, a 2003 survey of 1,044 American doctors found that 76-percent believe in God, while 59-percent be­lieve in some kind of afterlife. It is a curiosity that there are quite a few who believe in God but do not believe in an af­terlife.

By Michael E. Tymn

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