A Metaphor for Human Existence




Updated: 8 January 2010

MASTER INDEX of articles written, posted online, or recommended by Alex Paterson


Hypoxia is defined as "a condition of the body in which the tissues are starved of oxygen". (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica 1996)

The interesting thing about hypoxia is that the primary trigger for humans to breath is not a lack of oxygen in the blood or lungs, but rather the build-up of carbon dioxide in the same. 1 When a person breaths out, they expel the carbon dioxide that has built up in the blood and lungs, which satisfies the primary automatic breathing mechanism of the body. However, so long as the gas they breath in is not directly toxic, humans are unable to detect any lack of oxygen in the gas they breath in. The insidious thing about this state of affairs is that oxygen starvation in the brain actually produces an increased sense of well-being. In other words, hypoxia is an undetectable and pleasant path to death, as many pilots who have climbed to high altitude without supplemental oxygen have discovered at the cost of their lives. 2

Hypoxia serves as an excellent metaphor for human existence on planet Earth. Humans incarnate a limited aspect of themselves into this realm for the purpose of experiencing the perception of being separate from Source. (i.e. God) In order to play the Game of Separation, the aspect of humans that incarnates into this realm (the Ego self) is by necessity of limited consciousness and in most cases, completely unconscious as to its true nature, namely that it is an inseparable aspect of Source and as such potentially infinite. Like a human being suffering from hypoxia, most humans are completely unaware of this state of affairs and 'think' they are fully conscious, when in actual fact they are in a comatosed state.

Just as a few breathes of oxygen enriched air can restore a human suffering from hypoxia to full 'physical' consciousness, so a few breathes of sacred energy in the form of a deep spiritual experience can restore a human to spiritual 'awareness'.

Copyright Alex Paterson 2000


1. The control of human breathing is a very sophisticated process which is as yet not fully understood by conventional medical science. Thus, although the human body does contain chemoreceptors that detect oxygen levels in the blood, it would appear that the primary respiratory chemoreceptors are located the brain itself and are carbon dioxide detectors, not oxygen detectors.

For more on the Human Respiratory System see the extract of Encyclopaedia Britannica article below.

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2. The death of professional golfer Payne Stewart in a plane crash in USA in October 1999 is a graphic example of hypoxia in aircraft. It is suspected that the aircraft was climbed to altitude by the pilot with the pressurization system either not working or switched off and all the occupants of the aircraft quietly slipped into a coma and then died. As a professional pilot, I took part in a controlled exercise in a decompression chamber to experience first hand the effects of hypoxia on the human body. In the exercise I, along with others, were taken up to the equivalent of 20,000 feet altitude without supplemental oxygen. We were given a simple mathematical task to work out and write down on a piece of paper, with strict instructions to don our oxygen masks when instructed to by a moderator who was breathing supplemental oxygen at all times. To my chagrin I was one of the first participants ordered by the moderator to put on my oxygen mask. I clearly remember my anger towards the moderator when he called my name and ordered me to don my oxygen mask, thinking to myself "What is this idiot on about, I am performing just fine". When the exercise was over we were all brought back to sea level, where we were then able to view what we had written down on our work sheets. To our utter amazement all our work sheets had degenerated into a mass of incoherent drivel within about three or four lines, yet to our waking consciousness we remained both cognisant and fully alert during the exercise. It is now clear to me that my waking consciousness of this realm was seamlessly slipping out of my physical body into the non-physical state associated with 'death', and I was completely unaware that this occurring.

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Copyright Alex Paterson 2000


1. HYPOXIA (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Hypoxia is a condition of the body in which the tissues are starved of oxygen. In its extreme form, where oxygen is entirely absent, the condition is called anoxia. There are four types of hypoxia: (1) the hypoxemic type, in which the oxygen pressure in the blood going to the tissues is too low to saturate the haemoglobin; (2) the anaemic type, in which the amount of functional haemoglobin is too small, and hence the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen is too low; (3) the stagnant type, in which the blood is or may be normal but the flow of blood to the tissues is reduced; and (4) the histotoxic type, in which the tissue cells are poisoned and are therefore unable to make proper use of oxygen.

Diseases of the blood, the heart and circulation, and the lungs may all produce some form of hypoxia.

The hypoxemic type is encountered in pilots, mountain climbers, and people living at high altitudes, where the reduced barometric pressure results in a decrease in the amount of breathable oxygen (see altitude sickness).

In the case of anaemic hypoxia either the total amount of haemoglobin is too small to supply the body's oxygen needs, as in anaemia or after severe bleeding, or haemoglobin that is present is rendered nonfunctional. Examples of the latter case are carbon monoxide poisoning and metho-globinuria, in both of which the haemoglobin is so altered by toxic agents that it becomes unavailable for oxygen transport, and thus of no respiratory value.

Stagnant hypoxia, in which blood flow through the capillaries is insufficient to supply the tissues, may be general or local. If general, it may result from heart disease that impairs the circulation, impairment of veinous return of blood, or trauma that induces shock. Local stagnant hypoxia may be due to any condition that reduces or prevents the circulation of the blood in any area of the body. Examples include Raynaud's disease and Buerger's disease, which restrict circulation in the extremities; the application of a tourniquet to control bleeding; ergot poisoning; and exposure to cold.

In histotoxic hypoxia the cells of the body are unable to use the oxygen, although the amount in the blood may be normal and under normal tension. Although characteristically produced by cyanide, any agent that decreases cellular respiration may cause it. Some of these agents are narcotics, alcohol, formaldehyde, acetone, and certain anaesthetic agents.

Copyright (c) 1996 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. All Rights Reserved

2. RESPIRATORY SYSTEMS (Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)


One way in which breathing is controlled is through feedback by chemoreceptors. There are two kinds of respiratory chemoreceptors: arterial chemoreceptors, which monitor and respond to changes in the partial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the arterial blood, and central chemoreceptors in the brain, which respond to changes in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in their immediate environment. Ventilation levels behave as if they were regulated to maintain a constant level of carbon dioxide partial pressure and to ensure adequate oxygen levels in the arterial blood. Increased activity of chemoreceptors caused by hypoxia or an increase in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide augments both the rate and depth of breathing, which restores partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide to their usual levels. On the other hand, too much ventilation depresses the partial pressure of carbon dioxide, which leads to a reduction in chemoreceptor activity and a diminution of ventilation. During sleep and anaesthesia, lowering carbon dioxide levels three to four millimetres of mercury below values occurring during wakefulness can cause a total cessation of breathing (apnea).

Copyright (c) 1996 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Copyright Alex Paterson 2000


MASTER INDEX of articles written, posted online or recommended by Alex Paterson


Alex PATERSON is an Australian citizen by birth. He writes articles and advises on issues pertaining to aviation, politics, sociology, the environment, sustainable farming, history, computers, natural health therapies and spirituality.

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The document, 'Hypoxia' is the copyright of the author, Alex Paterson. All rights reserved by the author. Notwithstanding this, the document may be reproduced and disseminated without the express permission of the author so long as reference to the author is made, no alterations are made to the document and no money is charged for it.

Copyright Alex Paterson 1999

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