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Old 04-19-2012, 08:56 AM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
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In different cultures, religions and times, people have described experiences which go beyond the senses and knowledge and lead to the union with the Absolute, Void or Godhead. It's been said to be ineffable, liberating, transcendent and ecstatic. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions have had adherents at various times detailing these experiences.

So, what do you think of mysticism? Is there a scientific/psychological explanation for this phenomenon, or is it actual proof of God?
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:07 AM
 
Location: USA
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IMo, proof, no (seeing as I have had no such experience). Evidence to be taken into consideration, yes.
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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I don't think personal experiences can be proof of anything. They are subjective and unless witnessed and verifiable and repeatable in a controlled study, I can't see how one can use them as actual evidence. If that is the case, then we must then conclude that UFOs and Big Foot exist as well.

That being said, I do not discount peoples' personal experiences, as for them, they are real. I have had certain experiences, but I can in no way present them as evidence. I cannot say with actual certainty that those experiences are exactly what they seemed. I cannot say they were not a function of the brain or my own expectations and that, if for no other reason, is why I do not speak of them. They are personal and I have to work out for myself as to what I actually believe about them. Know what I mean?
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:17 AM
 
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There are a number of users going around these fora who very much do think it is evidence and/or proof of god. I have yet to see how it is either however and my attempts to question some of them on it have descended into turmoil.

I am no stranger to meditation techniques and exploration, nor to some of the feelings described in the OP. I have attained many of them. I simply have not lost the run of myself making up nonsense to justify those feelings when I have had them.

We are already aware that there are subjective human experiences available that go beyond the normal experiences of every day life. Everything from feeling a "universal love" to feeling an "inter connectedness of all things" to feeling things like being outside ones own body. And more.

However these experiences are being explained all the time. We know what in the brain causes them and we can even reproduce them at will. There is nothing magical or mysterious about them.

However our species suffer from something I like to call "lofty context bias". This is where something that is perfectly normal and explained suddenly becomes magical and unexplained if it happens in the right context.

If, for example, I give you the right drug or the right electrical stimulus to the right person of the brain... to elicit a feeling that everything is interconnected... most people would call it a great experiences and be interested in the science.

However if someone experiences the exact same thing due to being near death on a hospital bed and being pumped full of electricity and drugs.... or if someone sitting in meditation manages to manipulate their moment to moment awareness of the world to attain such an experience.... suddenly all bets are off.

The context of meditation or death is more lofty than a science lab or taking a drug. Suddenly the explanations that were perfectly good before no longer.... for no reasonable reason what so ever.... cut the butter. All of a sudden an equally lofty explanation has to be wheeled in and as these fora show people will start inventing everything from souls, to gods, to after lives in order to have a lofty and magical explanation to wield.

So no, evidence for gods and after lives it is not. Evidence that humans put in the right context will suddenly start inventing baseless things to explain the already explained... it very much is.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:31 PM
 
Location: PRC
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And I may very well be one of those people on this forum. I learned latin too, but we are speaking so that others can understand us, not to impress them with technically "correct" english.

The brain is a piece of receiving and filtering equipment which is far more complex than most people think or science understands at the moment. It is quite possible that there are more energies in our universe than science currently knows about or acknowledges and it is also quite possible that our brain and mind can pick up these energies and filter them through to our everyday consciousness. Some of these receiving stations are better tuned to some frequencies than others and so there will naturally be different experiences of these.

I am a little sad that you have experience of all these meditation techniques and still do not understand much at all. What exactly were you doing meditation for if it was not to discover the "nature of things"? It seems that you have missed that part completely. How can you meditate while at the same time analysing what you are experiencing? From what I know of meditation, I am not sure that the two states can exist at the same "time". Anyway...

Yes, of course context matters and one experience in one place does not have the same effect as another in another place, partly because our brains are not test tubes and we cannot exclude all other stimuli and concentrate on the one being experienced. It is one of the classic arguments for scientific proof that any scientist can perform the same experiment and get the same answer. Unfortunately, there is just going to have to be another "rule" for the ones which cannot be pinned down so absolutely. That may be an issue you have to face one day and from what you have written above, I am not sure you will be able to make the transition.

I fully believe that science has it's place in our society, but I do think that it cannot pretend to be a "one stop shop" for everything which needs be be investigated. Currently, scientists are incredibly bad at investigating things which cannot be poked, prodded, measured or analysed. So... maybe there is a place for science in religion or religion in science to bridge that gap. However, both camps are so controlling that I dont think either camp will allow the other to be a member. :-)
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:22 AM
 
Location: Mississippi
180 posts, read 196,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCityDreamer View Post
In different cultures, religions and times, people have described experiences which go beyond the senses and knowledge and lead to the union with the Absolute, Void or Godhead. It's been said to be ineffable, liberating, transcendent and ecstatic. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions have had adherents at various times detailing these experiences.

So, what do you think of mysticism? Is there a scientific/psychological explanation for this phenomenon, or is it actual proof of God?
It is definitely not proof of god, since god is not a fact, there isn't any evidence that would be considered proof. I highly doubt there is any evidence that can attribute this to a god anyway. Plus I get a liberating feeling looking at the stars, guess it means its a god and not just a feeling.

I don't know if there is a study that has looked at this, but it is extremely likely that there is a natural explanation to be found, if there isn't one already.
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:17 AM
 
7,801 posts, read 5,588,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ocpaul20 View Post
I learned latin too, but we are speaking so that others can understand us, not to impress them with technically "correct" english.
Not sure what you mean by this, perhaps you can elaborate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ocpaul20 View Post
The brain is a piece of receiving and filtering equipment which is far more complex than most people think or science understands at the moment.
The brain does indeed act as a receiver. It receives data from the senses and from other parts of the body. Nor do I think science under estimates how complex a piece of equipment it actually is. We are making massive breakthroughs in understanding how and why it works but we still have a long way to go.

What I would hasten to add however is that anywhere where science is at it's current limitation of understanding... at the frontiers of our knowledge... you will always find charlatans making stuff up and basing it on nothing but the "Well science does not understand everything.... therefore what I am saying is credible" argument.

One should guard against such argument when one can. If someone comes to you with an idea or belief then simply check if they can substantiate that belief or not. If the best they can offer is "Well it is all complex and we do not understand it yet" or "There is no evidence for my idea but it is quite possible all the same" then their idea or belief is likely nonsense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ocpaul20 View Post
I am a little sad that you have experience of all these meditation techniques and still do not understand much at all.
You can belay your pity as there is nothing wrong with it at all. I understand quite a lot in fact and I have had a keen interest in following closely the new literature coming out of scientists working in the field who explore exactly what causes such states of mind and experiences. My long time favorite example of this, though there are many, is VS Ramachandran who has provided wonderful explanations for everything from out of body experiences to feeling great love and interconnectedness with all things.

However I hasten to add....

Quote:
Originally Posted by ocpaul20 View Post
What exactly were you doing meditation for if it was not to discover the "nature of things"?
... that adding a scientific understanding of such things to ones arsenal in no way takes away from the subjective usefulness of having such experience.

To give a side example I understand everything there currently is to know in physics, biology and chemistry related to how a tree feeds, drinks, grows and procreates. That understanding in no way curtails my subjective enjoyment of the beauty of trees. In fact it adds to the wonder and awe because not only do I enjoy the superficial beauty on the outside of that tree like most people can, but I can also in my mind go inside that tree and marvel at the inner workings and beauty of it's place in the circle of life and nature.

Similarly just because I understand the mechanics of meditation and altered mind states, and how they can delude us into thinking something magical or mystical is going on... this does not mean I am unmoved by the experiences or that the experiences are any less worth pursuing. The fact is we all ARE interconnected. We are made of carbon which at some point had to come from starts. Stars had to die in order for us to be alive today.

Attaining mind states where one feels and appreciates that interconnectedness ... rather that merely appreciates it on an intellectual level like one appreciates that 2 + 2 = 4.... is very much a desirable goal and one that can be quite transformative in terms of how one looks at ones fellow man with empathy and compassion.

In other words there is a host of very attainable and very desirable results from such a pursuit of out of the ordinary mind states that are not predicated on having to make up unsubstantiated nonsense about gods, invisible energies that the brain is some kind of radio tower for receiving, or any other such woo. As a man better than me once put it, one can very much separate the numinous from the divine.

What we get on these fora however is the opposite, with users who happily go around claiming that while meditating they experienced something that they then declare.... based on nothing.... was "god". No evidence, argument, data or reasons on offer at all. They simply felt something, decided this was "god" and that is all the proof one should need that god exists.
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Old 04-20-2012, 02:03 AM
 
7,801 posts, read 5,588,164 times
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Indeed. Things like Vipassana for example are also used for other benefits such as increasing alertness, attention span and concentration. I have found many such benefits. It is also a wonderful way to train oneself not to go through life as a slave to ones own thoughts... or mindlessly as many people do lost in their own thoughts.... but as a way to train oneself to live the moment and process and appreciate it.

I could list the benefits and motivations all day. Nowhere in that list however would "discovering the nature of things" figure as far as I know. We have science for that and it is doing a good job indeed.
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:05 AM
 
1,554 posts, read 1,653,642 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCityDreamer View Post
In different cultures, religions and times, people have described experiences which go beyond the senses and knowledge and lead to the union with the Absolute, Void or Godhead. It's been said to be ineffable, liberating, transcendent and ecstatic. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and other religions have had adherents at various times detailing these experiences.

So, what do you think of mysticism? Is there a scientific/psychological explanation for this phenomenon, or is it actual proof of God?
The devotion to God alone without associate, son or equal .. is the correct line of belief and religion.

The much remembrance and celebrating the praise of God Almighty and Most Gracious .. this is very good.

But "mystism" is a kind of the worst enthusiasm and illusion.

Nothing like such union with God is prescribed in any revealed heavenly book: the Torah, the Gospel or the Quran.

God is else than His creatures and His creation: He is over The Throneof Glory which is over - The ethereal heavens(or the kingdom of heavens), and is All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Knowing and All-Mighty.
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:38 AM
 
Location: Top of the South, NZ
18,293 posts, read 15,372,663 times
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Magic mushies could be behind some of these mystical experiences. I've seen fairies and bird people myself, in just such a state.

Hunger can do crazy things as well. I can remember giant cupcakes, and giant strawberries on one occasion.
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