Mysticism03 Oct 1994 12:02
Time isn't holding usPhysiology. Many mystics recommend certain physical practices --- fasting, breathing exercises, yoga. Do these work? If so, is it something specific to these exercises, or would any sort of odd practice do, if the practioners expected it would lead to mystic states? What physiological changes occur during a mystic experience? Has anyone thought to do MRI on a meditating yogi?
Time isn't after us
If what William James used to call ``medical materialism'' may intrude, what aspect of the brain --- which presumably did not evolve to provide us direct contact with the Absolute --- is being ``exapted'' by mystics? --- The consensus of mystics on many points, such as the unreality of time and evil, indicates that it is a single experience, variously induced and interpreted.
Chemicals. Many of them seem fully able to induce mystic experiences. Why? (Obviously, this ties in to the physiological question.)
Relations to politics: democratic, anarchic, authoritarian. (Christian mystics, e.g., are all over the political map, whereas the Taoists who noticed politics at all seem uniformly anarchistic: which shows that mystic insight is not infallible.)
- To read:
- Frits Staal, Exploring Mysticism: A Methodological Essay [blurb]