Beliefs vs. Reality

There was a fascinating show that my wife and I watched last night on Mind Field with Vsauce (Michael Stevens). It was season 3, episode 7, titled “Behavior and Belief.”

It was all about the nature of beliefs, and whether they are real, lies, true, false, or something else more fuzzy. I think it explored this subject in a very intriguing way, doing experiments with people, and they came to some stunning conclusions. This has many implications for religious and spiritual beliefs, particularly those beliefs that we may have believed were true and yet found them to be not so true, or perhaps even false, and have shifted our beliefs in that wake. What does it mean to “believe” something, or believe in something? What is the nature of superstition? Do our beliefs coincide with an objective reality, or do they have another function?

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My Thoughts on the New Age, and How It Differs from Mysticism

I am not fond of much of the New Age movement. Sometimes my thoughts about mysticism may seem like the New Age, but I think that is because the New Age has adopted a lot of mystical language and concepts, not that classical mysticism inherently belongs to the New Age. They are two different fields, which have some overlap. The New Age developed just in the 1970s. Mysticism has been around for millennia, indeed, for all of human history, in every part of the world.

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Mapping The World’s Religious and Secular Symbols

At times I feel like much religious terminology and symbolism has failed to bring unity to our modern culture and global society, and that we need new terms and symbols to point to these highest realities for which we yearn. New religious movements often emerge under such conditions (and there are tens of thousands of these movements in the world today). But I’m not sure that helps, but just further divides us, each believing they have “the truth.” Continue reading “Mapping The World’s Religious and Secular Symbols”

Ego Sacrifice & Transcendence a Common Theme in World Religions and Science

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

We see this theme repeated over and over again throughout religious history into the present day, from Judaism through Christianity, in Hinduism and Buddhism, in Islam, in Confucianism and Taoism, and even into modern day scientific studies, that the overcoming of “self” or ego is central to our flourishing in an abundance of Life and Love in the world, and in realizing higher Truths that go far beyond our typical everyday minds and consciousness. Continue reading “Ego Sacrifice & Transcendence a Common Theme in World Religions and Science”

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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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”