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re karmic preferences/tendencies manifesting as Theosophy, RC, Bhakti yoga, science, history, etc ...

Jan 09, 2003 06:40 AM
by Mauri

The following excerpt is from an article entitled "Quest for 
the Devine," in the Feb. 2002 issue of the Reader's Digest 
(by Vince Rause, from "Los Angeles Times Magazine"). I 
thought it might help in breaking, instead of making, some 
karma around here, maybe. I'm referring to some recent 
posts that tend to display various biases, preferences, 
karma. But then, of course I'm speculating, again.

Here's the excerpt:

<<<Im having lunch with Andrew Newberg, a professor at 
the Univer­sity of Pennsylvania, at a restaurant in 
suburban Philadelphia. Newberg and I have met to discuss 
his biological theory of religion, which he be­lieves 
provides a neurological basis for the human hunger for 
God. The theory has made the 35-year-old a leading figure 
in the emerging sci­ence of neurotheology, which 
ex­plores the links between spirituality and the brain. 
Newberg tells me something I'm not sure I can grasp: The 
fabled "higher reality" described by mys­tics might, in 
fact, be real.

"You mean figuratively real?" I say with a troubled squint.
"No," he answers. "As real as this table. More real, in 
"You're saying your research proves this higher reality 
exists?" "I'm saying the possibility of such a reality is not 
inconsistent with sci­ence," he replies. "But you can't 
observe such a thing in a scientific way, can you?"
Newberg grins. He hasn't simply observed such a state: He 
has man­aged to take its picture.

Newberg's theory is based on reserch begun in the early 
1970's by psychiatrist and anthropologist Eugene d'Aquili. 
D'Aquili's theory de­scribed how brain function could 
produce a range of religious experi­ences, from the 
profound epiphanies of saints to the quiet sense of holiness 
felt by a believer during prayer.

In the early 1990s, d'Aquili teamed up with Newberg, a 
radiol­ogist, and the two refined d'Aquili's theory and 
began testing it. They used an imaging technology called 
SPECT scanning to map the brains of Tibetan Buddhists 
meditating and of Franciscan nuns engaged in deep, 
contemplative prayer. The scans pho­tographed blood 
levels of neural activity—in each subject's brain at the 
moment that person had reached an intense spiri­tual 

When later studying the scans, the scientists' attention was 
drawn to a chunk of the brain's left parietal lobe they 
called the orientation-as­sociation area. This region is 
respon­sible for drawing the line between the physical self 
and the rest of exis­tence, a task that requires a constant 
stream of neural information flow­ing in from the senses. 
But what the scans revealed was that at peak mo­ments of 
prayer and meditation, the flow was dramatically reduced. 
the orientation area was deprived of information needed to 
draw the line between the self and the world— the 
scientists believed—the subject would experience a sense 
of a limit­less awareness melting into infinite space.

It seemed they had captured snapshots of the brain nearing 
a state of mystical transcendence—de­scribed by all major 
religions as one of the most profound spiritual 
expe­riences. Catholic saints referred to it as "mystical 
union" with God. A Buddhist would call it 

These are rare experiences, re­quiring an almost total 
blackout of the orientation area. But Newberg and d'Aquili 
believed lower degrees of blockage could produce a range 
of milder, more ordinary spiritual experiences, as when 
believers "lose themselves" in prayer or feel a sense of 
unity during a religious service. Their research suggests 
that all these feelings are rooted not in emotion or wishful 
thinking, but in the geneti­cally arranged wiring of the 
"That's why religion thrives in an age of reason," Newberg 

You can't simply think God out of existence, he says, 
because religious feelings rise more from experience than 
from thought. They are born in a moment of spiritual 
connection, as real to the brain as any perception of 
physical reality.

"Does this mean that God is just a perception generated by 
the brain, or has the brain been wired to experience the 
reality of God?" I ask. "The best and most rational an­swer 
I can give to both questions," Newberg answers, "is 

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