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

Continue reading “The Neuroscience of Ego Dissolution and Transcendence”

Ego Transcendence in Secular Science

(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.)

In modern times the nature of the human ego has also been recognized by many in scientific disciplines, in psychology and other fields. I described some of this in an earlier post, in the psychological study of cognitive development in children. But what about losing the sense of “self,” the sense of an “I”? Continue reading “Ego Transcendence in Secular Science”

Sacrificing Ego Consciousness In the World’s Religions & Science

One element that I think is shared among all the religions, which has become quite conspicuous to me in recent times, is their history and beliefs about the nature of the human ego, and that this ego is a major obstacle to the flourishing of life and love in ourself and the world, and that transcending the ego is a major goal, if not the goal, of human life. This ego transcendence may be the central feature in all religions, the underlying core message and purpose of all spirituality. And science is beginning to discover this too. Continue reading “Sacrificing Ego Consciousness In the World’s Religions & Science”

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.

Continue reading “Einstein’s Misquote on the Illusion of Feeling Separate from the Whole”

“One Song: The Science of Oneness” by JD Stillwater

In my recent move from Utah to Pennsylvania I’ve had the opportunity to get to know wonderful new people, and one of those is JD Stillwater. He is a wise, affable, loving, and talented science educator, writer, musician, mystic, naturalist, speaker, and much more. As part of his Seven Candles project, a non-profit organization with the laudable mission to integrate science and spirituality, he gave a presentation a couple years ago on the topic of science and oneness. I think it is excellent. If you have a half hour to watch this, below, I think JD gave a fantastic introduction to the subject of how we are all one, and how science helps to inform us of this remarkable reality. Continue reading ““One Song: The Science of Oneness” by JD Stillwater”

Misreading Scripture as Literal History: Elephants in the Book of Mormon

Religious texts are most often not literal history.

They are allegories, narratives, parables, metaphors, similes, symbols, poetry, stories, visions, and figurative language. They are not relating precise word-for-word conversations of the past, nor are they detailing literal events that took place. Yes, the Bible talks about many people and places that may have really existed in the past, and may even abstractly refer to events that really took place, but it is not a history book. Continue reading “Misreading Scripture as Literal History: Elephants in the Book of Mormon”