Spiritual experiences are in the brain

who am I's picture

Average: 4.2 (6 votes)

"Spiritual experiences are all in the brain,it's often said.Now ,researchers have confirmed that the statement is truer than ever before.A new study of University of Missouri has found that spiritual experiences associated with selflessness(presume that they mean the lack of ego) are related to decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain, the zygon journal reported.According to the researchers, this study suggests that all individuals regardless of cultural background or religion, experience the same neuropsychological functions during their spiritual experiences, such as transcendence. "
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi dated 23rd December 2008

Been reading "Be As you Are" Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Is not the brain a part of the body.If these experiences are just a production of the brain , do they mean that the realisation of the Self is also a brain activated experience?
Confused. Would really require some light thrown on this ? Still do not know Who Am I?

Omkaradatta's picture

The brain

The brain is of interest to those focusing on objectivity.

Reality is neither subjective nor objective, but as a result of our obsession with the world being objective, we've forgotten our own being and have created an ego to deal with our illusion of subject/object. So we have to turn inward toward the subjective first.

The brain is in the mind, and the mind is in the brain. Are the two separate? I don't think so. I say forget all that nonsense and tend to the long-forgotten one, your Self. Turn away from objectivity, turn inward toward the subjective.

What happens in the brain is irrelevant toward our happiness. These scientists have contributed almost nothing toward human happiness... forget them, let them go.

P.S. Nisargadatta Maharaj comments on science: "Science deals with names and shapes, quantities and qualities, patterns and laws; it is all right in its own place. But life is to be lived; there is no time for analysis. The response must be instantaneous -- hence the importance of the spontaneous, the timeless. It is in the unknown that we live and move. The known is the past." -- from "I Am That"


Omkaradatta | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 07:43
Phroggy's picture


This relates to another thread where we're discussing the reality of experiences vs realization. The irony is that science is having an experience of discovering that certain experiences are formed in the mind, but this experience is also formed in the mind. (The brain and body are also such experiences. Mind, as I'm talking about it here, is essentially Consciousness.)

Hencely, the experiences are a reflection of clarity/knowingness/realization, whatever we want to call it in that context, rather than the cause of it. Science follows and reflects awareness rather than preceeding it.

Looking to your experience, whether it's the scientific discoveries of others, or your own meditative experience, is like experiencing a movie in order to learn something about the filmaker.

Phroggy | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 10:54
who am I's picture

spiritual experiences are in the brain

As regards Happiness i totally agree with both the comments. i found an interesting article about Mirror Neurons- The Neurology of Self Awareness.

who am I | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 11:40
superwoman's picture

reflected but not contained

The fact that some state, event or experience is reflected in some measurable brain activity does not mean that the state/event/experience is in the brain or confined to the brain or is a product of the brain. The brain may just be affected by it as the leaves on the tree are affected by the wind but you would not say that the wind is contained in the leaves only.

Even Samadhi and some other ecstatic states are known to influence brain activity and even structure but you wouldn't say that they are contained in it.

And maybe it is all indeed contained in the brain and our supernatural assumptions are just incorrect assumptions. You will never know as all is baseless, indirect and cannot be absolute or certain at the end of the day.

superwoman | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 12:34
Omkaradatta's picture

All what?

All of what is baseless and indirect? Are you not in direct touch with your Self? Is your *own existence* baseless and indirect? The truth is always available and open to all, if folks would just take it, but instead their minds are turned outward toward nonsense instead of inward toward themselves.

Turn within, and you'll find the absolute certainty you believe is absent. All doubt is due to looking in the wrong places for answers.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 13:35
nancy pro's picture

from How and Why to What

I think it is better to leave the how and why (it is a never ending useless task - for each answer that you may find the mind will come with 10 followup questions to assure the continuation of analytical entertainment for itself) and concentrate on the what - on the direct personal experience itself which is not the best tool but is all you really have to count on (all other, by defintion, is just second hand hearsay and thus theories).

I liked in this regard the sharp post in Is the moon made of cheese?

nancy pro | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 13:19
who am I's picture

mirror neurons

An interesting reply from a self on this subject-
"Very interesting. Strangely this subject has been nagging me for long. Bhagavat Gita points out our reality as souls in the disposable human shells.
Brain is only a medium used by us (souls) for processing data. When we discard the body the brain shuts down having served it's purpose.
Recent researches have succeeded in embedding software in the nano levels. Software embedding in the energy level will be a reality in the near future. This is nothing but impressions (karma) on the soul which is only a blob of energy which is indestructible.
All the secrets of the universe will be revealed to us only when we as pure souls or pure energy form, come out of the entangled existance inside the shell. Brain is only a laptop used by us.
Meanwhile think. Of course with that hardware."

who am I | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 13:55
mika's picture

the subject

As ramana would have probably said: look for the one who is confused... Look for the one who is interested whether he is in the brain or not?

mika | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 14:26
Omkaradatta's picture


I have to be here first to see, touch or conceptualize a brain, eh? I can only imagine the brain still being there if I die, but it's still I who's imagining that.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 12/23/2008 - 14:38