MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP         Update 05 26 08

Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.

Links to Credibility of Transcendent Revelations, NDEs and Samadhi

Approaching the vagaries in defining enlightenment, who are the authorities, what are the criteria and how is it attained? What distinguishes the mystical episodes of Vedic Samadhi, Buddhist Satori and Nirvana, Sufi, Gnostic ecstasy and Shamanism? Is the experience of a realized state imperative to enlightenment? Aside from grace is this state attained only through meditative practice or could one rise to a certain stage of accumulated intellectual/philosophical knowledge to become fully enlightened? Are examinations of enlightenment which wind up in an exchange of cut-and-paste axioms from Vedic or Buddhist doctrine really advancing our understanding or simply offering religious arguments? Can science offer anything of value to the discussion?

Credibility of Transcendent Revelations An examination of novel spiritual paradigms that have resulted from alleged transcendent revelations (Scientology, Eckankar, Theosophy, The NDE of Merril-Lewis Benedict, etc.) and whether the suspension of our disbelief is warranted.

First a little yoga satire to mitigate the tension common to the state of mind of one preparing to meditate for insight to ultimate questions...Real Life NDEs Luckey Video- visual satire about a relentlessly serious topic.

Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Wikipedia Redux. This is Maya-Gaia's original version (since completely deleted) of the Wikipedia article. See current version The Discussion Page is a transcript of the tedious dialog that transpired over the edits.

Chinese Buddhist Daosheng- (d.434): Enlightenment has to be a sudden leap. Because it is a leap into the indivisible, he said, one can nor more got through gradual stages of partial enlightenment than one can jump across a chasm in several jumps. But in Pure Land, the structure is different; one can depend on Amitabha Buddha who can...give out his endless store of merit and grace, assurance to all...that they will be reborn in his Pure Land where full enlightenment is easily available.

Daily Zen In these days people only seek to stuff themselves with knowledge and deductions, seeking everywhere for book-knowledge and calling this "Dharma-practice." They do not know that so much knowledge and deduction have just the contrary effect of piling up obstacles. Merely acquiring a lot of knowledge makes you like a child who gives himself indigestion by gobbling too many curds.

The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy Edited by Robert K. C. Forman Reviewed by Puligandla Ramakrishna The driving force behind this book is the desire on the part of the contributors to examine carefully and refute Steven Katz' Constructivism, which has gained considerable support among Western philosophers. For this reason, it is essential that the reader clearly bear in mind Katz' own characterization of Constructivism: Simply put, Katz' Constructivism is the claim that there can be no experience, whether ordinary or mystical, untouched by the culture and belief -- formative and shaping concepts, percepts, and expectations -- of the subject. Hence there cannot, in principle, be any non-intentional (mystical) experience transcending language, culture, belief, and expectations. It is to be emphasized that the claims of mystics contradict Constructivism. The Constructivist does not deny mystical experience and is eager to affirm the Pluralism Thesis, which, according to the Constructivist, does full justice to the variety and diversity of mystical traditions: Thus, for example, the nature of the Christian mystic's pre-mystical consciousness informs the mystical consciousness such that he experiences the mystic reality in terms.

The Wanderling Exceptional autobiography and insights of an American Zen disciple presenting a compendium of intricately linked spiritual resources and a free online course in Dharma.

Credibility Mystical Experience ebook browse - Related scholarly PDF Documents

Terebess Asia Online (TAO) Alan Watts. Lecture on Zen, The Nature of Consciousness: "The ideal man of Indian Buddhism is clearly a superman, a yogi with absolute mastery of his own nature, according perfectly with the science-fiction ideal of "man beyond mankind." But the Buddha or awakened man of Chinese Zen [and the Tao] is "ordinary and nothing special"; he is humorously human like the Zen tramps portrayed by Mu-chi and Liang-k'ai. We like this because here, for the first time, is a conception of the holy man and sage who is not impossibly remote, not superhuman but fully human, and, above all, not a solemn and sexless ascetic. Furthermore, in Zen the satori experience of awakening to our "original inseparability" with the universe seems, however elusive, always just round the corner. One has even met people to whom it has happened, and they are no longer mysterious occultist in the Himalayas nor skinny yogis in cloistered ashrams. They are just like us, and yet much more at home in the world, floating much more easily upon the ocean of transience and insecurity."

An Introduction to the Tamil Siddhas- Their Tantric Roots, Alchemy, Poetry, and the True Nature of their Heresy Within the Context of South Indian Shaivite Society by Layne Little - Since each sect emphasized different aspects of the teaching they quickly became widely divergent, with the two orders often at odds. The Siddhas would be scoffing at temple worship, reliance upon Brahminical authority, and proclaiming the injustice of caste; while the Saiva Siddhantins would berate the Siddhas much as M. Srinivasa Iyangar did in 1914 when he wrote that the Siddhas are "mostly plagiarists and impostors" and in addition, "Being eaters of opium & dwellers in the land of dreams, their conceit knew no bounds".

Arhat Definition Answers: In Buddhism, one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence, has achieved nirvana, and will not be reborn. Theravada Buddhism regards becoming an arhat as the goal of spiritual progress. It holds that a seeker must pass through three earlier stages before being reborn in a heaven as an arhat. Mahayana Buddhism criticizes the goal of becoming an arhat as selfish and considers the bodhisattva to be a higher goal because the bodhisattva remains in the cycle of rebirths to work for the good of others. This divergence of opinion is one of the fundamental differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

Satori The six points on Satori are from D.T. Suzuki's An Introduction to Zen Buddhism

Expositions of the Mahayana Faith Infinite Enlightenment: By infinite enlightenment is meant that which has no false notions and is infinite like space, one with the True Reality, as in instinct and intuition. This is the natural state of the Incarnate True Model (the Tathagata), and is called the original state of enlightenment. This is to distinguish it from acquired enlightenment, which cultivates that infinite enlightenment, for the two have the same thing in common though it is only in part. Where there is the original infinite enlightenment there exists finite enlightenment in those who seek after it. Where there exists finite enlightenment, there is more enlightenment to be acquired.

Immanuel Kant An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (1784) Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.

Near-Death Experiences An Encyclopedia and Forum on Death and Dying. "Understandably, near-death studies have drawn major theoretical debate from several quarters, in particular New Age and skeptical writers. Church leaders and writers are divided. Some side with materialist medical theories, while others argue that such experiences are the work of darker forces. Others allow that such experiences may be revelations into some larger human and perhaps divine dimension."

Samadhi Wikipedia- Advanced yogis have been said to consciously leave (or dis-identify with) their bodies as a vital step in the attainment of this final samadhi, or soul-liberation. It is at this time that the soul knows a complete and unbroken union with the Heavenly Godhead, and, being free from the limitations of the body, merges effortlessly into the transcendent amrita of Divine Bliss. It is said that sometimes the yogi leaves the body and returns. According to Meher Baba, Jesus entered into nirvikalpa samadhi at the time of his crucifixion.

H. Bosch - The Afterlife
Painting by Hyronomus Bosch- "The Afterlife"

The Case for the Afterlife An online advocate book by lawyer Victor Zammitt. Chapter 28: "What happens when we die? - There is nothing more important, as critical, as significant and vital as accepting that communicating with afterlife entities is the greatest discovery in human history."

Victor Dammit A Lawyer Presents the Case for Burning Skeptics - A facsimile satire on the website of Victor Zammit- A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife (see link above)

Near-Death Experiences, Religion, and Life After Death by Holly Wallace: A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Religion College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Darrell Fasching, Ph.D. Paul Schneider, Ph.D. Dell DeChant, M.A. 2004 Keywords: NDE, survival hypothesis, veridical evidence, corroborative NDEs, OBE.

Life After Death: The Evidence part 2 by J.P. Moreland - "Many of us believe in an afterlife, but we don't always know what that means. In the second of his two-part article, J.P. Moreland continues to examine the different arguments for life after death. In part one of this article, I reviewed a few of the arguments for life after death, namely, the two empirical arguments (Near Death Experiences and Jesus' resurrection)...In part two, I will continue to make the case for life after death by going over the non-empirical theistic-independent arguments, followed by an assessment of all these cases together.

Sahaja Samadhi - in which a yogi functions normally but is in a perpetual state of non-duality in Asamprajnata Samadhi or the Nirvikalpa or Nirbija Samadhi...and they call this the state of Sahaja Samadhi. Sahaja means natural. So, in Sahaja Samadhi, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes to the Yogi his natural state, and not a state which he tries hard to reach and then reaches only to come back to the waking state after a while. Rather, the state of non-dual consciousness becomes normal to him. The Yogi thus gets established in Sahaja Avastha. But, the Sahaja Avastha is a rare phenomenon and is itself the fruit of intense practice of the other stages and gradations of Samadhi.

The Near-Death Experience A theist's argument that NDEs represent a denial of scripture. Alternative Explanations by J. Isamu Yamoto from the Christian Research Journal: In the previous issue we examined common elements in the accounts of people who claim to have had near-death experiences. We focused primarily on the New Age interpretation of this phenomenon, surveying the work and writings of Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, and Melvin Morse. In this issue our discussion explores alternative explanations to those of the New Age movement for NDEs. First, there are a number of medical explanations. These range from legitimate possibilities, such as the effects of endorphins and hypoxia, to more incredible propositions, such as the "memories of birth" interpretation. Second, some of the findings of both secular and Christian psychologists and medical professionals who have researched NDEs are found to conflict with New Age interpretations.In conclusion, we may allow for the possibility that God works in the experience of some of these cases, but we must reject those experiences and interpretations that clearly deny the teachings of Scripture."

My review of the article The God Experiments- By John Horgan - DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 12 | December 2006
Horgan presents an unbiased description of the theories and research of five scientists taking different approaches to explain mystical religious experiences in reductionist terms.
Horganism- John Horgan Blog - Discover Magazine edition. One of the most prolific and constructive curmudgeons of science and religion, Horgan brings all the passion of a reformed sinner into his insightful critiques of hypotheses as they arise in the fields of science, formal religion, metaphysics both classical and New Age, philosophy and related intellectual disciplines.

The Force Within Back to Home By Anupama Bhattacharya - "Is paranormal a mere fantasy, a creation of irrational self-suggestion? Or is there a deeper truth that can take mankind to the threshold of a higher existence?"

Near Death Experience New World Encyclopedia A near-death experience (NDE) is the event of maintaining a conscious recognition of sensations, visions, or events after having been declared clinically dead and ultimately being resuscitated to reflect on what was experienced. Such events often include the vision of a white light, sometimes interpreted to be God; encounters with angels, ancestors, or other members of the deceased; out-of-body experiences; and a review of one's life, among other reported phenomena. NDEs can be either heavenly or hellish experiences. NDEs are among the phenomena studied in the fields of parapsychology, psychology, psychiatry, and hospital medicine. Testimonies from these individuals have given comfort to those seeking evidence of a life after death, as well as clues to the curious regarding the descriptions of the spiritual reality.

Taxonomy Website The Shermer Sham- 2004 Essay. Has it become time for Scientific American to dump its resident 'skeptic' and columnist Michael Shermer? Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic Magazine, and frequently appears in the mass media as the advocate for the 'skeptical' viewpoint when it comes to claims of the paranormal. Scientific American gives him the ear of the scientific community, and the weight of its authority to the general public, via his regular column which is simply called "Skeptic". The trouble with Shermer is, he is not a skeptic. He is fixated with debunking alternative views, and he is neither objective nor fair in his treatment as a true skeptic should be.

General Revelation and the Anthropic Cosmological Principle - Reasons for Optimism that God has Made Himself "Known" to Everyone by Hal N. Ostrander, Ph.D. "The term metacosmologist is meant as an all-inclusive term, signifying a person of broad scientific interests, namely, someone engaged in the study of metaphysics, cosmology, philosophy of science, physics and nature. Perhaps the best synonym for it is quantum cosmologist.

Skeptical Overview on NDE from The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience by Ed. M. Shermer. "In the end, it is probably a matter of personal preference whether to interpret the NDE as a glimpse of the life beyond or the product of the dying brain. In either case, the NDE deserves serious research, and the dying, the recovering, and their relatives deserve to know what we have learned."

A Reply to Shermer- Medical Evidence for NDEs by Pim van Lommel. In his "Skeptic" column in Scientific American in March, 2003, Michael Shermer cited a research study published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal, by Pim van Lommel and colleagues. He asserted this study "delivered a blow" to the idea that the mind and the brain could separate. Yet the researchers argued the exact opposite, and showed that conscious experience outside the body took place during a period of clinical death when the brain was flatlined. As Jay Ingram, of the Canadian Discovery Channel, commented: "His use of this study to bolster his point is bogus. He could have said, 'The authors think there's a mystery, but I choose to interpret their findings differently'. But he didn't. I find that very disappointing" (Toronto Star, March 16, 2003). Here, Pim van Lommel sets out the evidence that Shermer misrepresented.

Agnosticism Dictionary of the History of Ideas - "To be an agnostic is to hold that nothing can be known or at least that it is very unlikely that any-thing will be known or soundly believed concerning whether God or any transcendent reality or state exists."

On Fideism "In Christian theology, fideism is any of several belief systems which hold, on various grounds, that reason is irrelevant to religious faith. According to some versions of fideism, reason is the antithesis of faith; according to others, faith is prior to or beyond reason, and therefore is unable to be proven or disproven by it."

Prolegomenon to Vallabha's Theology of Revelation By Jeffrey R. Timm - Philosophy East and West - "Advaita Vedaanta can also be viewed as a Vedantic response to the Buddhist critique of "God-talk." Reacting to the Maadhyamika reduction of all subject/predicate logic to absurdity, Sankara proposed a Brahman who was beyond predication, and a world which was, in the final analysis, a mere appearance. This pushes God not only beyond the domain of human logic, but also beyond the possibility of human contact. It results in a cosmological dualism--an unbridgeable gulf between man and God--precluding the possibility that God may speak and that man may hear. For Vallabha this position was unacceptable, for it denigrated the reality of a God who speaks by reducing Him to a silent "Other."

The apparent distinction between Atman Self and Anatta No Self in the Advaita of Ramana Maharshi and Mayhayana Buddism may be simply the result of Ramana's often fuzzy, ambiguous and contradictory teachings and that his Self is not the psychic/phenomenal "selfhood" but is the That Thou Art or I - I of oneness with Brahman so that any distinction between his Self and No Self of the Tathagata vanishes. I suspect that the essential Ramana has the body of the elephant of the perennial non-dual philosophies and devotees who examine it are like the blind trying to permutate a cohesive form out of a bewildering array of disparate parts. If that is the case, I wonder if all the mystery, and acute confusion and ambiguity over exactly what "practice" best expresses Ramana's teachings is SIMPLY all of the above so long as it leads to the realization of the Self/NoSelf of Atman/Anatta - Brahman/Bohdi.

Inner Explorations In his autobiography, David Loy writes that he came to a similar conclusion- that although there are extraordinary very sharp differences between the Bhagavad-Gita Adviata and Mayhayana Buddhism- in fact, opposed, that the phenomenology of the experience they were trying to describe is, in fact, very, very similar, perhaps identical.

Practicing Ramana's Self-Inquiry (scroll down to Wednesday, February 06, 2008) Beginner's Confusion is Unavoidable by Conrad Goehausen: David Godman remarked in an interview a few years ago that someone interested in self-inquiry stood at the door of the meditation hall at Ramanashram asking for help on self-inquiry, and found that not a single person was actually practicing it there.

Lotus-Feet of Clay- A Reluctant Mystic Looks At Spiritual Movements by John Wren-Lewis. Some, if we believe what they tell us, are born with spiritual consciousness. Others appear to achieve it by prolonged practice of meditation and other disciplines or by attachment to a guru. I had spiritual consciousness thrust upon me in my sixtieth year without working for it, desiring it, or even believing in it. As a result, I have been presented, amongst other things, with a somewhat original perspective on understanding cults and spiritual movements, which is the occasion for this article.

Arguments for the Existence of God - Arguments for Atheism Arguments for Agnosticism Arguments for Atheism

Weird Neurology Meta Religion and the Paranormal. "The site is a compilation of articles I found on the web. Many articles include ideas I do not believe or like. This is important, specially in the Extremism, Secret Societies and New Religious Groups sections. The objective of those sections is to show the "beliefs" of a diversity of groups and people."

Neurology of Revelation Dr. Beyerstein received his Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. He is chairman of the B.C. Skeptics and is a fellow and member of the Executive Council of CSICOP. He is on the editorial boards of Skeptical Inquirer and a new journal, Reviews of Anomalous and Alternative Medicine. He is also on the advisory resource panel of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.

Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth by Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Part IV, The Nature of Revelation. Even people who believe in revelation differ in their understanding of its nature. For example the majority of today's Buddhists, Confucianists and Taoists consider their founders' experiences to have arisen purely from within their conscious or subconscious minds. As mentioned earlier they believe that truth exists within every soul as a part of nature. Inspiration to them is the instrument of contact with the fountainhead of this eternal truth. Other religions hold the view that revelation is an experience arising from an external source - a [Supreme Spirit or All-knowing ananda, Brahman Ishvara or God].

The Handbook of the Navigator by Eric Pepin. forum with wide spectrum of different opinions on book.

Richard Petty M.D. blog on mystical experiences.

Near Death Experience in Spiritual Traditions by Zoran Mihajlovic - "Near Death Experiences (NDE) are found in different environments. They are described and interpreted in different ways due to different cultural and religious background. In this article I am trying to draw attention to NDEs in spiritual traditions which are often hidden behind a mystical veil or legends. NDEs and mystical experiences are mixing in spiritual texts, although having the same basis. This might be a valuable help in comprehending the complexity of life by contemporary science."

Ketamine and NDE Followup to the original paper by Dr Karl L.R. Jansen referenced in Wikipedia Near Death Experience claiming to debunk the spiritual nature of NDEs and attributing all the typical factors to chemical changes in brain neuroreceptors. However Dr. Jansen's own shifting perspective on his ketamine-NDE analogy has been notable. He has since acknowledged that ketamine may in fact be one particularly powerful trigger of authentic spiritual experiences - of which near-death may be another and his present position appears closer to thinkers like Daniel Pinchbeck and others like Carl Jung, Ken Wilber and Stanislav Grof.

The Out-of-Body Experience: Disturbed Self-Processing at the Temporo-Parietal Junction by Shahar Arzy and Olaf Blamke (2005) See ABC Interview, 2008. The authors claim to find evidence from neurology, cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging that suggests that OBEs are related to a failure to integrate multisensory information from one's own body at the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). It is argued that this multisensory disintegration at the TPJ leads to the disruption of several phenomenological and cognitive aspects of self-processing, causing illusory reduplication, illusory self-location, illusory perspective, and illusory agency that are experienced as an OBE. (m-g review: From the very beginning there is the assumption that OBEs are illusions and the reseach is conducted with a bias to interpret evidence to confirm this a priori conclusion. Secondly - the theoretical model of what constitutes an OBE is severly limited to the aspect that a POV (point of view) inverted by 180 degrees, is a major mainifestation whereas the phenomological events commonly reported include a much more varied and complex spectrum of effects. A third factor that warrants skepticism is that there is virtully no physicalist evidence that neuroscience can epitemologicaly relate to numinous features of the OBE with any more credibility than their explanation of how consciousness is a manifestion soley created from the neuro-biology/chemistry/physical properties of our brains.)

Contemplating Consciousness A Chan Buddhist Perspective by Chuan Zhi (2012) We may study the sciences and learn fascinating things, contemplate philosophical ideas, hitch ourselves up to neuro-stimulation devices, but from the Zen perspective none of these activities will get us closer to understanding consciousness. For that, there is no substitution for direct inquiry through the methods of contemplation and meditation. We may not be able to directly share our discoveries with others, but it’s a thrilling, awe-inspiring, and transformational journey should we choose to take it.

IANDS NDE Message Board NDE accounts are posted here.

Fearless- The Movie Review of film featuring Jeff Bridges featuring a near death experience. Maya-Gaia's opinion is- Great performances, powerful drama- but the scenario is an almost totally fanciful caricature of an NDE, featuring precognition and miraculous, phenomenal interaction during the traumatic episode and a psychotic, life-threatening, "fearless" state of mind regarding reality- as an aftermath -[m-g].
> For a completly different take on the film Review of Fearless - Professor John Wren-Lewis's enthusiastic review of Peter Weir's film- "A movie masterpiece about transcendence." Weir apparently appreciated the convoluted transpersonal manifestations of Bridges' character as a kind of Rosarch model in which one could rationalize generalized aspects of the entire spectrum of NDE accounts. The scenario of behavior that I found inconsistent with the data, Weir finds confirming the inexplicable and unpredictable nature of such experiences. In supporting the credibility for the peculiarities that transpire, Weir presents features in his own and others' NDE accounts as analogous but which I found for the most part, seriously lacking in correlation and seems overly impressed with synchronicity of elements in the story which confirm unremarkable aspects that are documented in NDEs- such as a marriage can become stressed. I admit our disagreement seems to take on the nature of the reductionist versus the integral spirituality approach in defining reality. -[m-g]

See Also: The Mystical Gaze of the Cinema by Richard Leonard (Conclusions: Chapter on the mysticism of film-maker Peter Weir) available as both an e-book (downloadable PDF files) or a d-book (print-on-demand). In my analysis of Weir’s work I have taken both points of reference, mysticism and Jung, as seriously as he does. I have argued that it is by neither accident, nor the hyperbole of journalistic flair that has led writers to speak of Weir’s work (Fearless; Picnic at Hanging Rock; Gallipoli; Witness; Year of Living Dangerously; You Only Live Once) as mystical.
Wikipedia page on Fearless (film)
Wikipedia page on John Wren-Lewis
more John Wren-Lewis on film Fearless

Psychedelic Episodes Identical to Spontaneous Transcendence Using "unusually rigorous scientific conditions and measures", Johns Hopkins researchers have "shown" that the active agent in "sacred mushrooms" can induce mystical/spiritual experiences descriptively identical to spontaneous ones people have reported for centuries. An example of how screwed up "science" can get in trying to measure or get conclusive evidence about mystical states of consciousness. -[m-g]

New Scientist, Feb 16-22, 2008 (page 44-45) Clinical epidemiologist John Ioannidis's 2005 paper entitled "Why most published research findings are false" was the result of a 15 years' work cataloging the factors that plague the interpretation of scientific results. Ioannidis found that the misuse of statistics or poor experimental design in small-scale clinical trials means that a statistically significant finding wouldn't have a better than 1 in a 1000 chance of being true. Molecular science is highly exploratory and complex with occasional hints of interesting association but most published research has very low credibility. Extreme findings sell in the literature but soon another group finds something extreme in the opposite direction.

Bhugarbha Samadhi Research Trip Report on Yogic Sciences at the Kumbha Mela Festival, Allahbad, India by William Bushell, PhD, MIT This report covers the author's brief research trip to the 2001 Kumbha Mela Festival in Allahabad, India, the purpose of which was to initiate an ongoing research program on yoga in collaboration with Mahayogi Pilot Baba and his ashram and to witness a demonstration of the bhugarbha (underground) samadhi practice. The broader aspects of the study concern effects of meditation and dietary practices featuring a caloric restriction (CR) regimen. Yog Mata Keiko Aikawa, a Japanese woman, the yogini was buried in an underground pit for 72 hours. Mahayogi Pilot Baba has purportedly demonstrated the more extreme variation of this practice, the underwater or jala samadhi, for four days. Although human survival of circulatory arrest for briefer durations has been conclusively documented - in, for example, cases of medically induced hypothermia for surgery and cold-water near-drownings - survival of extended respiratory suspension and circulatory arrest proved under controlled conditions would constitute a revolution in Western physiological science.

Advaita Vedanta Samadhi The Question of the Importance of Samadhi in Modern and Classical Advaita Vedanta By Michael Comans, Ph.D. A comprehensive essay- The word samadhi became a part of the vocabulary of a number of Western intellectuals toward the end of the first half of this century. Two well-known writers, Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood, were impressed by Eastern and specifically by Indian thought. Huxley made a popular anthology of Eastern and Western mystical literature under the title The Perennial Philosophy (1946), and in his last novel, Island (1962), words such as moksa and samadhi occur untranslated.

Our Multi-Dimensional Nature as a Soul: An Introduction to Life Between Lives Spiritual Regression By Arthur E. Roffey, Ph.D. and Michael Newton, Ph.D. Art Roffey, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, past-life regression practitioner, life between lives hypnotherapist and Vice President of the Society for Spiritual Regression. He is the founding Director of Innervision, P.C. in West Bloomfield, MI.

Under the Tree A spiritual novel featuring NDE by Greg Stone.

The Roots of Consciousness by Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD - The entire book online is a look at the history, folklore and science that shapes our understanding of psychic capacities. The purpose of this revised edition of The Roots of Consciousness is simply to provide an entry into the language, concepts and assumptions implicit in a sophisticated worldview that allows for the possibility of psychic functioning. "I am more interested in readers understanding and appreciating this worldview than in accepting or following it as "the truth."

Consciousness: A Hypersapce View by Saul Paul Sirag

Institute of Transpersonal Psychology The mission of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA is to provide education at the graduate level in transpersonal psychology. Our purpose is to prepare students to apply the knowledge, principles and experiences of transpersonal psychology to research, training and the practice of clinicians, counselors, educators and other professionals.

Undivided A newly revised (2012 - presently free) bi-annual online journal on nonduality and psychology - John Prendergast, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief Nondual Wisdom and Psychology Institute Undivided features peer-reviewed articles and dissertations and artwork, poetry, and opinion about the growing field of nondual-philosophy as it intersects with and informs the practice of psychotherapy. Readers are free to submit comments and blog with the authors.

Transpersonal Psychology Wikipedia entry.

Ten Classical Metaphors of Spiritual Transformation in Mysticism and Meditation Practice by Iona Miller, 1985. The mystical and religious literature of East and West and the secret oral traditions of esoteric spiritual schools have used myths, parables, similes, symbols and metaphors to allude to that strange process that somehow changes or transforms our deepest selves. Through this means they have addressed the problem which can be stated as, "How can we know or describe anything about the changes we have not yet experienced, changes that by universal consensus take us beyond the realm of everyday reality, for which our words and concepts have been fashioned?"

NDE, Reincarnation and Death by Aida Da

Science of Self Club - Nelson Abreu, president. Science of Self is a discussion group for the university community who believe that life is more than making copies of yourself so that your genes get passed on. Life is more than we can currently fathom, and Science of Self exists to expand the horizons of what we know and value within our current human experience. Site includes a compendium of resources for scientific exploration of consciousness

IAC World International Academy of Consciousness. We are a non-profit research and education organization dedicated to investigating consciousness and helping people develop their human potential to the maximum. At IAC, great emphasis is placed on the rational study and development of psychic and energetic abilities, especially the out-of-body experience (OBE), as a means of understanding the multi-dimensional fabric of our reality and learning how to live better within it.

Dr. Charles T. Tart American psychologist and parapsychologist known for his psychological work on the nature of consciousness (particularly altered states of consciousness), as one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, and for his research in parapsychologyUpdated Tart Paradigm Website Library of Articles on Transpersonal; Consciousness; Explorations on the Spiritual Side; Parapsychology. See also: Links and Resources

An Empirical Investigation of the Discriminability of Reported Mystical Experiences among Religious Contemplatives, Psychotic Inpatients, and Normal Adults Kenneth Stifler, Joanne Greer, William Sneck, Robert Dovenmuehle Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 366-372

Encyclopedia of Religion and Society William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor The doctrine that special mental states or events allow an understanding of ultimate truths. Such events include religious, transcendental, and some paranormal experiences. James (1902), Stark (1965), and Hardy (1979) argue that the distinguishing feature of religious experience is a sense of contact with a supernatural being. Definitions of mystical experience often include experiences with nonpersonal or anthropomorphic powers. Mysticism tends to refer to experiences supporting belief in a cosmic unity rather than the advocation of a particular religious ideology.

Exploring the Question- What is a Mystical Experience? (Written with the assistance of Th. Emil Homerin, Professor and Chair, University of Rochester Department of Religion and Classics.) Bibliography of Researchers of Mystical Experiences

Kundalini Awakening- El Collie's chronicle of her struggle to integrate spontaneous Kundalini awakening 2003. Statement of Purpose: To provide information and support for the process of spontaneous Kundalini awakening. Kundalini is the Hindu word for the sacred transformative element that awakens consciousness. The exact symptoms and experiences vary with each person. Some phases are blissful and magical; the more cathartic and cleansing parts of the process may be difficult. This process is also called shamanic awakening, ascension, awakening the light body or the energy body, rebirth, or simply transformation.

The Biology of Kundalini: The Fire of Life by Jana Dixon (entire book online) I have worked out a preliminary protocol to support the fire of kundalini without getting fried and to prevent the years of depression-like fallout that often happens after an awakening. As the science of kundalini progresses such a protocol for adaptation or higher homeostasis will be refined and expanded. Till then, please be aware dear reader that this is an experimental book, the research that will give us the definitive answers to this mystery has yet to be done. In the past we have had no scientific understanding as to what was actually happening to us during kundalini. Now in with modern science we can begin to understand what is really going on.
(m-g: Given my skepticism regarding kundalini- no surprise that I view this as a prime example of how an authentic numinous episode can be extrapolated and trigger a chase for its ontological basis. In this case the result is volumes of verbiage in New Age effusiveness to holistically embrace questionable hypotheses from bodies of metaphysics and the occult combined with postmodern transpersonal psychology and integral spirituality to add to the plethora of kundalini-centric paradigms.)

Kundalini Awakening and Self Realization by Rick NurrieStearns

About Big Mind by Genpo Roshi A crash course of opening your small mind to Zen's big mind in 24 hours. Pro: Enthusiastic review Ken Wilber, Integral Community, et al. Con: HardCoreZen Skeptical review.

Ripples on the Surface of Being: An interview with Eckhart Tolle by Andrew Cohen. Tolle is the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth Introduction: by Carter Phipps; "As more and more sophisticated enlightenment teachings and techniques were proliferating in Western culture, more people than ever were having peak experiences, powerful awakenings, and real glimpses of enlightened consciousness. And as a result, something very interesting was happening. Many of the teachings that were proving so effective at catapulting individuals into heightened states of consciousness and provoking extraordinary experiences of a reality beyond time and space were also proving inadequate to address the question that inevitably arises on the heels of such awakenings: How do I live? How do I relate to the manifest world?"
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is a self-help book by Eckhart Tolle. First published in 2005, it sold 5 million copies in North America by 2009. It encourages its readers to live their lives in each present moment and to create happiness for themselves without emphasizing material possessions. See Tolle Serene, critics Less So by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, 2010 "Was Jesus the son of God?" Tolle asks rhetorically. "Yes. But so are you. You just haven't realized it yet." Such sentiments inflames critics like the bloggers at Christian Skepticism, who call Tolle the Antichrist. They warn believers to turn away, quoting evangelical writer John Stott's warning that "the possibility of self-salvation is one of the major delusions of New Age philosophy." A fav review: A New Earth review by Jerry Katz at nonduality.org

Quite Ordinary A youtube video of Eckart Tolle, author of a world best seller book "The Power of Now" 1999 Eckhart Tolle points toward the "spaciousness" that surrounds every object and every event in our lives. It must be obvious, but maybe to many of us unnoticed.

The Metanexus Institute administrates the Templeton Advanced Research Program, supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The primary goal of this new research program is to foster innovation in research design as well as the scientific scope and impact of religion and spirituality. The 100th anniversary of William James' classic work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, provides an historic waypoint for us to reconsider the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena. Publishes The Global Spiral a monthly online magazine dedicated to the mission and vision of Metanexus Institute.

Why Consciousness is Not the Brain by Larry Dossey , 2010 Excerpted from The Science of Premonition, 2009 We swim in a sea of consciousness, like a fish swims in water. And like a fish that has become oblivious to his aqueous environment, we have become dulled to the ubiquity of consciousness. In science, we have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. We’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined.

Forum about Astral phenomena

Journal of Conscientiology Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Experimental Research Project into Out-of-Body Experiences. Year 2002

Soul Travel An excerpt about OBE field research in the AstralPulse Forum website because the original report in the Soul Travel magazine is no longer online.This work 2003, reported some of the significant results obtained from two OBE research experiments using opportunity sampling to generate data. These experiments took place during two workshops conducted in Évora - Alentejo, Portugal, and in Segovia, Spain, respectively. The core focus of this research project is to establish more consistent and systematic information related to the way in which the consciousness perceives, interprets and recalls the information learned through out-of-body experiences, including processes such as extraphysical perception, cognition, and memory; transference of information to the physical brain; and the interference or influence of individual cultural and personal background in the interpretation of perceptions.

Psychology of Consciousness 2007 A comprehensive syllabus of the course at the U. of Arizona that introduces features over a broad selection of issues that can then be Googled for further details.

Lightworks The TBOTD consolidated the collective wisdom of generations of Tibetan holy men regarding the death process as the spirit entered into the interlife, the Bardo.

Tibetian Book of the Dead Reviews of all versions of the Tibetian Book of the Dead.

Divine Life Society Presentation of dharma by Swami Chidananda regarding death

Near Death Experience Wikipedia

Contending For Truth Example of a fundamentalist Christian website (see also Lighthouse) assailing Catholicism, Judaism, etc, and targeting Rick Warren, Eckhart Tolle and others for indorsing benefits of some Eastern meditative tradition. Rick Warren's Latest Demonic Trap Exposed--The "New Health and Wellness Initiative" Promoting Tantric Sex Yoga, Meditation and Reiki II Corinthians 11:13-15: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

First-person Methodologies: What, Why, How? by Francisco J. Varela and Jonathan Shear. A phenomenon, in the most original sense of the word, is an appearance and therefore something relational. It is what something is for something else; it is a being for by opposition to a being in itself independently of its apprehension by another entity. Inside-Outside: The Misleading Divide By first-person events we mean the lived experience associated with cognitive and mental events. Sometimes terms such as ‘phenomenal consciousness’ and even ‘qualia’ are also used, but it is natural to speak of ‘conscious experience’ or simply ‘experience’. These terms imply here that the process being studied (vision, pain, memory, imagination, etc.) appears as relevant and manifest for a ‘self’ or ‘subject’ that can provide an account; they have a ‘subjective’ side. In contrast, third-person descriptions concern the descriptive experiences associated with the study of other natural phenomena. Although there are always human agents in science who provide and produce descriptions, the contents of such descriptions (i.e. of biochemical reactions, black holes or synaptic voltages) are not clearly or immediately linked to the human agents who come up with them. Their defining characteristics refer to properties of world events without a direct manifestation in the experiential-mental sphere; they can only be linked to this sphere indirectly (via the actual laboratory life, the modes of scientific communication and so on). Such ‘objective’ descriptions do have a subjective-social dimension, but this dimension is hidden within the social practices of science. The ostensive, direct reference is to the ‘objective’, the ‘outside’, the content of current science that we have today concerning various natural phenomena, such as physics and biology. Now, recent history and philosophy of science often suggests that this apparent objectivity cannot be characterized as dealing with things-out-there, as independent of mental contents-in-here. Science is permeated by the procedural and social regulations that go under the name of scientific method, that permits the constitution of a corpus of shared knowledge about natural objects. The linchpin of this constitution is public verification and validation according to complex human exchanges. What we take to be objective is what can be turned from individual accounts into a body of regulated knowledge. This body of knowledge is inescapably in part subjective, since it depends on individual observation and experience, and partly objective, since it is constrained and regulated by the empirical, natural phenomena. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, No. 2–3, 1999, pp. 1–14

Phenomenological Approach to the Study of Religion: A Historical Perspective by Rev. Emeka C. Ekeke and Chike A. Ekeopara, Lecturers Religious Studies Department, University of Calabar, Nigeria. Abstract: The issue of methodological approach in the study of religion has remained an enigma to many scholars of science of religion (religionswissenshaft) for many centuries. This led to the formulation of many methods such as historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological, phenomenological and the rest in the bid to solving this problem. This paper therefore looks at one of these methods known as phenomenological approach to the study of religion from the historical perspective to ascertain the origin and development of the method. Phenomenological study of religion deals with a personal participation of a scholar in the religion he seeks to study in order to understand the essence (meaning) and manifestations of the religious phenomena of the particular religion. This he does through the grouping of the phenomena, the suspension of value judgment, which was previously held about that religion, and the taking of a neutral stance in order to understand what he is studying. Indeed, phenomenology of religion may testify to a predilection for metaphysical questions and religion as essential reality.

Immanuel Kant, who was a contemporary of Lambert, also used the term twice wherein he laid the foundation for its development “when he distinguished things as they appear to us (which he called phenomena) from things as they really are (which he called noumena)” (Moreau, 2001: 249). Kant proposed that it is not possible to have a true and genuine knowledge of the transcendent (noumena) as a science but in the immanent (or phenomena) it is possible since this is a description of the structures of human experience. He therefore proposed phenomenology as an appropriate field of philosophical and scientific inquiry.

Another scholar who used the word phenomenology was Georg W. F. Hegel in his Phenomenology of the Spirit published in 1807. Reacting against Kant’s splitting of phenomena into noumena and phenomena he argued that instead of a split of phenomena of Kant, “phenomena were actual stages of knowledge progressing in evolutionary fashion from raw consciousness to absolute knowledge” (Moreau, 2001: 249). He explains further that “in phenomenology, the soul now raises itself by means of the negation of its corporeity into the purely ideal nature of self-identity. It becomes consciousness, ego, has being-for-self in the face of its other”. (Qtd in Petry, 1978: LXXI).To Hegel, phenomenology was the science by means of which we come to absolute knowledge through studying the ways our minds appear to us.

1900s witnessed a series of publication and studies on phenomenology during which time a German group showed their insight into phenomenology. One of such great thinkers was the Austrian-born Philosopher Edmund Husserl, who “sought to give philosophical foundations to a generally intuitive non-empirical approach of phenomenological methodology” (Moreau, 2001: 250). One major factor that led Husserl into the formulation of his view on phenomenology was the reigning idea at that time that “science alone is the ultimate court of appeal” (Ekeke, 2006: 55). This means that scientific method has seen itself as the only method of achieving the truth and falsity of any issue. He was therefore reacting against the scientific methodology, which demands that life experiences be thrown to the mud for objective empiricism. Husserl counters this view by saying that life experiences should be 268 Rev. Emeka C. Ekeke and Chike A. Ekeopara recognized, rather than being hindrance, could be used as a means through which reality could be explored.

The Normative Evaluation of Belief and the Aspectual Classification of Belief and Knowledge by Matthew Chrisman University of Edinburgh. It is a piece of philosophical commonsense that belief and knowledge are states. Some recent virtue epistemologists have been tempted to ignore this common sense because they think doing so is the key to some of the open and difficult questions in epistemology. In my view, however, they are wrong to do so, especially when it comes to two important questions about the normative evaluation of belief. The basic problem, I shall argue, is that denying that belief and knowledge are states offends not only against philosophical commonsense, which is a popular whipping boy, but also against ordinary common sense, at least as far as this is manifested in the meaning of the words we ordinarily use to talk about belief and knowledge.

Heuristic Wikipedia: refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Where an exhaustive search is impractical, heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution. Examples of this method include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense. In more precise terms, heuristics are strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem solving in human beings and machines.

Further reading:

Dying to Live: Science and the Near-Death Experience by Susan Blackmore.
The Way of Myth: Talking with Joseph Campbell - Fraser Boa.
Joseph Campbell The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and Religion.
Alan W. Watts. This is IT and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience.
What is Enlightenment? Exploring the Goal of the Spiritual Path by John White (Ed.)
Ken Wilber: The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion.
Is Religion 'Built Upon Lies'? Best-selling atheist Sam Harris and pro-religion blogger Andrew Sullivan debate God, faith, and fundamentalism. 2007
Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment by Geoffrey D. Falk (2005) (see also other books by Falk) No one involved in contemporary spirituality can afford to ignore this book. It exposes the darker side of modern spiritual movements, those embarrassing—sometime vicious or criminal—reports which the leaders of these movements prefer to hide. With wit and humility, and without abandoning the verities of religion, Falk has provided a corrective critique of groups that peddle enlightenment and transcendence. A must! — Len Oakes, author of Prophetic Charisma (1997)


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