re karmic preferences/tendencies manifesting as Theosophy, RC, Bhakti yoga, science, history, etc ...
Jan 09, 2003 06:40 AM
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
"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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