Thursday, August 02, 2007

Are Humans Hard Wired For Mystical Experiences?

This morning I wish to make a prediction: In the not too distant future, science will increasingly confirm the notion of a few scientists today that humans are hard wired for mystical experiences.

I figure it's just a matter of time at this point before today's sophisticated research techniques uncover neuro-pathways in the brain associated with mystical experiences. Why? Because mystical experiences are a cross-cultural and cross-historical phenomenon that seem upon study to be significantly distinct from mere insanity. Since they are found in all cultures and times that we're aware of, the experiences must have some innate basis in the brain. And since they are significantly distinct from madness, they most likely are associated with their own neuro-pathways, rather than representing a dysfunction of some sort.

Of course, once those pathways are discovered, some people will speculate the Judeo-Christian God put those pathways there so we could know Him. I can see quite a few problems with that line of speculation, but it's bound to make the covers of Time and Newsweek anyway. That's just how we are.

More importantly, would the discovery of a neuro-pathway for mystical experiences eventually lead to "enlightenment on demand"? I'd be willing to bet "yes".

But if everyone's enlightened, just what the hell are we gonna do with all the out of work bimbo talk show hosts?


Brendan said...

"Mystical experience" is a shadow of self-consciousness and logical thought. To the extent we are hard-wired for self-consciousness and thought we are hard-wired for mystical experiences as where there is one there will be the other.

Ashwin said...

Isn't it about the journey instead of the destination? You can have all the mystic experiences in the world, but it will not dictate how you live your life, how you manage your relationships, your actions, etc.

Mystical experience like any aspect of human life is only a shadow of it. Everything has to come together to be life.

amuirin said...

I'd respond to this, but I'm having tea with Francis of Assisi right now.

Writer Chick said...

I think that all people have the capacity but I don't think it has much to do with brains or hard wiring.

Paul said...

"I think that all people have the capacity but I don't think it has much to do with brains or hard wiring."

I'm confused, WC: How can it not have something to do with our brains?

Mystic Wing said...

I rather imagine that mystical experience is a further stage in the evolutionary development that began with so-called logical thought. So I'd say we are perhaps "becoming" hard-wired for mystical consciousness.

We are, after all, only about two weeks out of the trees, as a species, and for about 90% of any given day, we aren't even rationally conscious, much less mystically conscious.