View Full Version : neurotheology and budo

John Lindsey
18th October 2001, 01:56
If you are not familar with neurotheology, it refers to the idea that religious experiences can be related to brain activity.

Read: Tracing the Synapses of Our Spirituality (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=nation/science&contentId=A10767-2001Jun16) for more information.

From the standpoint of Japanese budo, we know of many "Masters" who experienced spiritual experiences either through their study of martial arts, or in meditation. Many koryu were founded under such circumstances.

Neurotheology is a fairly new idea, but quite interesting.

What you think?

R Erman
18th October 2001, 03:43
Very interesting article. I find it pretty exciting that some branches of science are begining to run parallel with mysticism. It'll probably be decades before any of this becomes main-stream science. But these branches of psychology and neorology, and some of the spin-offs of quantum physics are showing alot of rudimentary "evidence" to support so-called supernatural phenomena.

Unlike some, I don't feel that this type of research threatens religion or spirituality. If anything, it gives credence to some of it. The only people who may be threatened are those whose fear of change keeps them from seeing the benefits of a common course for religion and science.

18th October 2001, 07:21
There are physiological connotations to everything - a simple thought has chemical, magnetic, and electrical properties associated with its completion. But is that all there is? I would hazard to say that this is similar to calling a computer "a plastic box," having seen one for the first time, and not realizing the complexity of the circuitry inside it - or its capabilities.


Joseph Svinth
18th October 2001, 13:32
You might also take a look at Julian Jaynes, _The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990). I won't say I agree with most of what he wrote, but the book is still well worth reading.

18th October 2001, 17:12
Is the flag waving or is it your mind?

Joseph Svinth
20th October 2001, 11:30
The flag is. How I perceive and explain it depends on a combination of things, to include my mental state at the time and the way I have been socialized to interpret data.

20th October 2001, 15:56
The link is no longer active, but I had read a similar article in Newsweek a while back called "Religion and the Brain." It's located at http://stacks.msnbc.com/msn/566079.asp?cp1=1

I found it pretty fascinating stuff. It made me consider that a human can change their cognitive apparatus through will and over time, ostensibly for the better. Usually, you only hear about people's mental activities changing their bodies for the worse as in the case of ulcers and some heart disease.


21st October 2001, 10:25
Quantum Questions , edited by Ken Wilber. If nothing else, read the introduction "Of Shadows and Symbols".

Of course, if you are interested in the concept of "neurotheology", then you might also find the content of the book interesting--it is a collection of the writings on religion--especially mysticism--by such worthies as Einstein, Planck, Heidegger, etc.

Joseph Svinth
21st October 2001, 11:31
For the Newsweek article, try http://www.alchemind.org/neurotheo/neurotheology.htm

Run a Google search for the keyword "neurotheology" if you're interested, as a bunch of hits will come up.

By the way, "Christianity Today" was not impressed by the work. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/118/52.0.html .

21st October 2001, 14:34
I'm having trouble with the Newsweek link...

I read an article recently about a researcher who discovered a structure in the brain which, when stimulated with magnetic current, produced a "mystical experience" in the subjects of the experiment.

The immediate questions brought to mind:
--What's stimulating this node in people who don't have magnets strapped to their heads?
--What was the evolutionary value of this structure?

Joseph Svinth
21st October 2001, 16:06
Jason --

For the Newsweek article, try http://www.alchemind.org/neurotheo/neuronewswk.htm -- that's the followed link from the previous site, and presumably it works as a direct URL, but I make no guarantees.

Also try Jaynes for some thoughts regarding what the ancient purposes of these brain centers could be.

All theoretical, of course, but still fun to ponder.

21st October 2001, 16:24
Interesting... But it seems to be filled with biological tautologies. 'When you lose sense of time and space, your orientation association area has ceased function'.

Well, duh. :D

23rd October 2001, 01:29
Sorry it's taken so long for me to put my 2p worth in - things are pretty hectic at the moment (like they haven't been for the last year!)..
I haven't had chance to read the links yet, but I do find it interesting than people are linking brain activity to mystical experience. I'd like to interject a word of caution though (even scepticism I might argue). I'm sure it's possible to make people feel heat, and pain etc through the stimulus of different brain areas - but we automatically don't question the 'reality' of these experiences. Granted these 'mystical' experiences may, to an extent, be triggerable by instigating brain activity, but you have to ask - what stimulus would normally trigger that activity...?
Just a thought, before I slump into bed..

Joseph Svinth
23rd October 2001, 09:00
Our explanations of the phenomenon matter. For example, in some societies, hearing voices talking from bushes is called prophecy, while in others it is called schizophrenia.

Meanwhile, no matter who was or was not there to hear it, the tree fell.

23rd October 2001, 09:30
"I want to know God's thoughts... all the rest are details"

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18."

Couple of quotes from a little Jewish guy named Albert, which reflect back on the discussion. I seem to recall he believed brain power was not the end-all, and hardly the beginning.


4th November 2001, 09:27
this theoretical physicist seems to be drawing quite a few correlations between esoteric or mikkyo concepts an his reasearch into TOE. i'm no theoretical physicist but i do believe he is a fascinating thinker. if you'd like to check it out here you go....