The Neuroscience of Ego Dissolution and Transcendence

(This is the continuation of a series exploring the nature of the human ego in the world’s religions and science, beginning with this post.)

“To me, mystical or spiritual experience is what happens when your ego is put aside. Spiritual experience is about a sense of merging with something larger than you. And it’s your ego that stands in the way. To the extent that you can subdue it, or just put it off to the side for a few hours, amazing things happen, and you realize that you are part of a larger energy…”

—Michael Pollan, bestselling author and journalist, from a 2-hour long interview with Tim Ferriss

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The Book of Mormon as Literary Alchemy: Joseph’s Magnum Opus and the Philosopher’s Stone

Bryce Haymond

Abstract: Joseph Smith’s activity in bringing forth the Book of Mormon can be viewed as a project of alchemy, which was influenced by his affiliation with treasure digging, the folk magic worldview, the Hermetic tradition,1 as well as his many mystical spiritual experiences. I suggest he initially sought to bring the “gold plates” of his visions into material reality, and in the process discovered the true “gold” was within himself, the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Continue reading “The Book of Mormon as Literary Alchemy: Joseph’s Magnum Opus and the Philosopher’s Stone”

Einstein’s Misquote on the Illusion of Feeling Separate from the Whole

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Albert Einstein

This morning I came across a quote in an excellent essay by Daniel Christian Wahl, frequently attributed to the renowned modern theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. Wahl did not misquote him, but it seems to be often misquoted when cited in full. It is this:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

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Video: Harvard Buddhist Psychologist on the Constructed “Self”

I thought this short video was a beautiful summary and illustration of Buddhist philosophy from Dr. Daniel Brown, a Harvard Psychologist and Tibetan Buddhism scholar. I believe this philosophy may similarly be found in most of the world’s religions, framed in a multitude of different symbols. This is perennial wisdom. I’ll describe some of these further down. (Transcript under video.) Continue reading “Video: Harvard Buddhist Psychologist on the Constructed “Self””

Joseph Smith’s “Sinking” Into the Darkest Abyss to Commune with God

A recent quote I saw shared was from the nondual spiritual teacher Rupert Spira, in which he said this:

…just as the beam of light from a flashlight can be directed towards an object but cannot be directed towards the bulb from which it emanates, so awareness, in the form of attention or mind, can direct the light of its knowing towards objective experience but cannot direct itself towards itself.

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Which comes first? Consciousness or Matter?

Walt commented and asked a question on a recent post:

A day or two ago, you stated that consciousness arises in matter of sufficient complexity. If you know Spira, you probably know he asserts something different, which is that matter and mind and everything else rise out of and are ‘made of’ consciousness. Just wondering if you disagree with him there, and if so, why?

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