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Transforming and Transcending: Neurocognitive Roots of Materialism and Idealism.. 1

Neuroscience and the Mystic State. 1

Bio-electro-chemical mystic states in the brain and body. 2


Transforming and Transcending: Neurocognitive Roots of Materialism and Idealism

At a glance, that posting seems related to D'Aquili and company.

The Mystical Mind : Probing the Biology of Religious Experience

by Eugene G. D'Aquili, Andrew B. Newberg


Why God Won't Go Away : Brain Science and the Biology of Belief

Andrew Newberg M.D., Eugene G. D'Aquili Ph.D., Vince Rause


Brain, Symbol & Experience : Towards a Neurophenomenology of Human Consciousness

Charles D. Laughlin, John McManus, Eugene G. D'Aquili


Click author's name for more titles."

Neuroscience and the Mystic State

>Neuroscience,it seems to me, has succeeded in correlating brain states with mystic states.  Has the subject of neuroscience/mystic state been discussed in this group?

>I am new to this group and would appreciate a reference to a post or two where the neuroscience/mystic state subject was discussed.


Kurt may have written something.  There is little, if any.  It's generally on-topic.  Search here:



Transforming and Transcending: The Neurocognitive Roots of Materialism and Idealism



Bio-electro-chemical mystic states in the brain and body

Michael wrote:

>>>a transcendent black-box utterly hidden god who is defined usefully can lift and fish the mysticized one out of the deterministic cosmos, raising the initiate into heaven, above the deterministic sphere of the fixed stars.

Jeffrey wrote:

>>Of course the stars only appear to us as fixed. Stars move at great speeds ...

That "rebuttal" is a misfire that mischaracterizes even the surface of ancient thinking.  The ancients held that the stars moved, but in a manner that is fixed, unchanging, regular, fated, deterministic.  The goal of mystic experiencing was both to experience that determinism deeply in a way that killed the usual familiar sense of being a self-steering freewill-wielding control agent, and to experience a sense of transcendending consciously, in some sense, that newly intensely experienced determinism.

>>I can see how mysticism ties into religion and such experiences and how they are connected. Your post breaths the same sort of religious sounding experiences and beliefs I have heard before from many believers.  Nonetheless, I still think it is belief,

It is not "belief" so much as *description* of standard common mystic-state experiential phenomena.

>>subjective at most

Mystic phenomena are shared subjective similar experiences, just as all knowledge is shared subjective experience in which many people compare notes and take into account the reports of others.  Ken Wilber covers this point well in the front of the book Eye to Eye.

>>and not something with very much objective proof regardless of how true you might believe or think it is.

The weaknesses of "proof" have been covered by Hume and your objection carries no weight unless you essentially acknowledging that "objective proof" is highly problematic in the philosophy of science and epistemology in general -- not just in mystic-state reports and descriptions of their experiential phenomena.  It is a fallacy to imply that it's unproblematic to treat science as simply objective while treating mystic experiencing as simply subjective.  To do so is pre-philosophical, lacking all precision, and failing to address obvious objections to such a simplistic dichotomy.

>>I understand there are 'altered' mental states and these brain states can lead one to believe they are mystical and transcendental, but they are still rooted in the bio-electro-chemical nature of our brains and bodies.  That is nature, not super-nature.

You attempt to set up an opposition between mystical transcendental supernature on one side, and bio-chemical nature on the other side, as though these must be against each other, one falling and the other standing.  Particular well-known and standard and common altered mental states are brain states.  It's incorrect, and has a jump of meaning, to say these states "can lead one to believe they are mystical and transcendental".  Certainly these are mystical states -- there is no serious debate regarding that point. 

And whether these are transcendental states depends mostly on the definition of 'transcendental', a highly shiftable term with two or three main distinct meanings which I ought to identify here.  You raise good, basically relevant points, but it takes some work to straighten out the various groupings or combinations of ideas.  That work is good online conversation.

>>Many experiments confirm that the brain can make remarkable feelings and experiences such as pain and pleasure centers and the feeling of being out of ones body, among other things.

At this point, it's not clear why you bother pointing out what everyone (every thinker I know of) agrees upon unproblematically.

>>The mystical, or even magical experience is a mental state.

The ancients often divided the person into 3 levels:

o  Body (soma)

o  Psyche (also often known as soul or mind; see Reitzenstein's book Hellenistic Mystery-Religions: Their Basic Ideas and Signifiance)

o  Spirit, as in some biblical passages attributed to the Paul character. 

In that 3-tier system, one would generally assign the best part of hermeticism, alchemy, magic, astrology, and mystical gnosis to the realm of the person's spirit level, rather than their body or psyche level.  The ancients (Greco-Romans to 476 CE) generally said that the body did not participate in spiritual phenomena, but it's a distortion to force modern literal non-mystical distinctions and categories straight into the antique mystic allegorical descriptive system. 

The ancients did not assert that mystic experiencing is caused by brain chemistry; neither did they deny it.  They used a different paradigm.  The ancients -- in fact, all of the pre-moderns, until the Reformation of 1517 or the Enlightenment of 1700 or so -- operated within a paradigm that was mostly mystical-state allegorical/descriptive, rather than literalist and uninformed of mystic phenomena. 

The pre-moderns were generally operating from within an initiated paradigm, whereas the moderns generally operated within an uninitiated paradigm, limited to only being familiar with the ordinary state of consciousness, alienated from the mystic altered state of consciousness.

>>A point of view and Carl Sagan said it best, "The possible number of possible mental states outnumber the atoms in the known universe."

You can consider that to be opposed to the simple concept of "the mystic altered state", or not.  Mystics assume the existence of the following states:

o  The ordinary waking state

o  The standard sleeping dream state

o  The sleeping dream state while using visionary plants, such as in the temple of Asclepius.

o  The mystic altered state induced by ingestion of visionary plants, with different plants having different characteristic experiential ranges.

>>My mind remains open however on this. I haven't experienced it, and though I doubt those who claim to have had mystical experiences, I remain open to the possibility. ... seeing is believing and I haven't seen anything like this yet.

Any mystic would immediately consider you unqualified to doubt; they would instantly assign you to the category of "uninitiated" as unhesitatingly as we identify sexes or the child/adult distinction.  If I belong to a group of people who sees the 3-dimensional Statue of Liberty hidden in the large, framed stereogram poster in the bathroom at Guitar Center, and you doubt that there is any such image hidden in the random-looking blocks of color, we who agree the image is there can only shrug and laugh that you don't see it. 

You call it subjective, but we perceive it and our perception matches each other in essentials.  It is proven that the image is there, among our group of observers.  The inability of others to perceive it -- when they haven't put their perception apparatus into the requisite mode -- carries no weight whatsoever.


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