Excruciatingly Large Things

Daniel Rourke's new website is:


On the epistemological validity of the mystic experience

→ by Danieru
"The available scientific evidence tends to support the view that the mystic experience is one of internal perception, an experience that can be ecstatic, profound, or therapeutic for purely internal reasons. Yet for psychological science, the problem of understanding such internal processes is hardly less complex than the theological problem of understanding God. Indeed, regardless of one's direction in the search to know what reality is, a feeling of awe, beauty, reverence, and humility seems to be the product of one's efforts. Since these emotions are characteristic of the mystic experience, itself, the question of the epistemological validity of that experience may have less importance than was initially supposed."
From Deautomatization and the Mystic Experience by Arthur J. Deikman

Categories: , , , , , , , ,

Archived Link

Bookmark using any bookmark manager!

Blogger Heathen Dan said...

There is evidence that repeated neural storms, such as occur in epileptic attacks, may change nervous connections in the brain, particularly in temporal lobe epileptics, so that certain personality traits become apparent and are present between epileptic attacks (Bear, 1979). Bear found that, in comparison with control subjects, temporal lobe epileptics are humorless, very much concerned with religious, mystical, and cosmological problems, and have a strong sense of having been selected and guided by divinity. Mild forms of temporal lobe epilepsy may not involve any visible seizures, with the afflicted individual sharing some of the same personality characteristics nevertheless. On tests of temporal lobe dysfunction, those unselected college students who score higher than others, but still within the normal range, also report more religious, mystical, and paranormal experiences (Persinger, 1984). In comparing the experiences of epileptic patients with the religious, conversion, and mystical experiences of normal individuals the parallels become quite apparent, and it is hard to tell the difference between them. Some of the conditions that can bring on a particular pattern of neural firing and therefore epileptic seizures are rhythmic light and sound stimuli, especially when they occur against the background of emotional arousal, hunger, fatigue, and other influences that disrupt the normal, orderly functioning of the brain.  

Leonard Zusne & Warren H. Jones, Anomalistic Psychology, p 69

December 12, 2005 9:12 AM    

Blogger Danieru said...

Great comment, as always Mr. Heathen Dan. I have just finished reading the amazing 'phantoms in the brain' by V.S. Ramachandran and there was a chapter in there on similar epileptic events:

"Paul: I had my first seizure when I was eight years old. I remember seeing a bright light before I fell on the ground and wondering where it came from. Suddenly it was all crystal clear to me, doctor. There was no longer any doubt anymore. [Paul proceeds to outline further details]
Ramachandran: Can you be a little more specific?
Paul: Well, its not easy, doctor. Its like trying to explain the rapture of sex to a child who has not reached puberty. Des that make sense to you?
Ramachandran: What do you think of the rapture of sex?
Paul: Well, to be honest, I'm not interested in it anymore. It doesn't mean much to me. It pales completely beside the divine light that I have seen."

I also blogged a relevant quote by Dosteoevsky a while back (he was also an epileptic). All very fascinating stuff..

December 12, 2005 9:27 AM    

Blogger Danieru said...

'If we wish to understand the nature of reality, we have an inner hidden advantage: we are ourselves a little portion of the universe and so carry the answer within us.' - Jacques Boivin

January 03, 2006 6:41 PM    

Subscribe to Comments