View Full Version : Zen and the Brain

30th April 2001, 20:53

Interesting article anyone read "Zen and the Brain"?

George Bonner
9th May 2001, 18:56
The book Zen and the Brain by Dr. Austin was an enjoyable read. Written by a zen practitioner and neurologist it came across as a hybrid of science and mysticism. Some of the book may be difficult to understand without any background in the neurological sciences. Since it entails the neurophysiology of enlightenment and meditative states the jargon is rich in medical terminology. This book may not be for the layperson with an interest in zen but for a zen practitioner with an interest in science. The book is well referenced and dissects the scientific literature on meditation detailing its limitations. While doing a research thesis on transcendental meditation I happened to come across the book and became hooked immediately. The book is sold from the MIT library and can be ordered from there. It definitely is recommended if your interested in understanding zen from a neurological point of view.
George Bonner,D.C.

13th May 2001, 20:32
Ok... I am really freaked out right now. You see, I had the most interesting and real dream I have ever had about a week ago. I am a religious man, and I am also fairly scientific, so I did not know what to make of this dream. It was either a vision from God, or it was my unconcious trying to explain to my concious the answers I was looking for. I had become interested in finding my ch'i lately and in meditation. In my dream I sat in a room with several other students trying to use my ch'i. I was sitting in a chair with my hands stretched over and under my partner's (whos face I could not see) hand. I was trying to pass ch'i between my hands, and my partner would tell me if he or she felt anything. So I tried concentrating and nothign happened. My teacher walked over to me (the only thing I remember about him is that he was tall and was smiling) and told me to realx my head. So I relaxed some of my check muscles and my jaw, and my forehead (I can do this easily now because of a quick little yoga exercise that I had learned) . My teacher said, "No, go here" and he took two fingers and touched his foredhead right about where your hair line might recede from. This area of the brain, I find out due to the article, is responcible for concentration. I did somthing to that part of my brain and then as if I had steped off a cliff I felt several other parts of my brain fall into relaxation. I was then in a complete state of bliss. I felt as if I had been in this state before and that the only reason I wasn't always in this state is because those parts of my brain that I had just relaxed were "tense". I could feel my ch'i radiating out from my body, I saw it pulsing from my hands. For a second I thought, "Wow it would be great to be here all the time. But what if this is just a dream" I think at that point my concious, logical self kicked in and told me that this experience defied what I normally experience. So I began to "tense" up again and I felt myself leaving the place of love. I was able to breath and relax though, and I fell back into that place for a time (I'm not actually sure for how long). I enjoed that feeling until I suddenly thought of somthing or worried about somthing and I "tensed" up and I closed the bliss off. I find this especailly weird because I had this dream before I found out about all this brain stuff. Here is what the article says:
"In order to feel that time, fear and self-consciousness have dissolved, he reasoned, certain brain circuits must be interrupted. Which ones? Activity in the amygdala, which monitors the environment for threats and registers fear, must be damped. Parietal-lobe circuits, which orient you in space and mark the sharp distinction between self and world, must go quiet. Frontal- and temporal-lobe circuits, which mark time and generate self-awareness, must disengage. "
... call me crazy but I think I dreamed about those exact areas only a week ago. I didn't really know what to think of my dream at first. I couldn't just say it was a dream and it wasn't real... because it felt so real and it was very different from any dream I have ever had before. After reading this article I am now really confused... and I wish I could get back to that place of bliss in real life. Well, until I'm there again I'll continue searching. If anyone has had a similar experience, and dosne't think I'm nuts then please tell me so.

Thank you,
Tom Berkery