Spiritual experiences


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Dr. Swanand S. Pathak

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Spiritual experiences

  1. 1. Anomalous Spiritual Experiences HOW TRUE ? (Views of Science and Vedanta) DR.SWANAND S. PATHAK MBBS MD DACM IDCTR Associate Professor Department of Pharmacology JNMC drswanandp@yahoo.co.in
  2. 2. What is Anomalous experience ?What are the various spiritual Anomalous experiences ?Scientific views and explanation.Anomalous Spiritual experience in the light of Vedanta philosophy.Answer to the question HOW TRUE ?
  3. 3. Anomalous :Common meaningsAnomalos – Latin – uneven – deviating from usual orderUnusualSuper naturalParanormal
  4. 4. Examples1.Ghosts and other spiritual entities2.Extraterrestrial life and UFOs3. Cryptids : creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely. Yeti in the Himalayas.4.Spiritual experiences
  5. 5. Scientific Definition (Anomalous spiritual experiences)Structured way in which a believer enters into a relationshipwith, or gains an awareness of, the sacred within the context of aparticular religious tradition.
  6. 6. Types of Spiritual ExperiencesTransient - the experience is temporary; the individual soon returns to a "normal" frame of mind.Ineffable - the experience cannot be adequately put into words.
  7. 7. Noetic -- the individual feels that he or she has learned something valuable from the experience.Passive -- the experience happens to the individual, largely without conscious control.Mixed– combination
  8. 8. Mediated ( ritualistic) Immediate ( non ritualistic )Mediated -- In the mediated experience, the believerexperiences the sacred through mediators such as rituals, specialpersons, religious groups, totemic ( tribes , American Indians)objects or the natural world .
  9. 9. Immediate -- The immediate experience comes to the believerwithout any intervening agency or mediator. The deity or divineis experienced directly
  10. 10. Spiritual Experiences : Nature 1. Ecstasy 2. Enthusiasm 3. Mystical 4. Spiritual awakening
  11. 11. EcstasyIn ecstasy the believer is understood to have a soul or spiritwhich can leave the body. In ecstasy the focus is on the soulleaving the body and to experience transcendental(divine ) realities.
  12. 12. Enthusiasm or PossessionGod is understood to be outside, other than or beyond thebeliever. A sacred power, being or will enters the body or mindof an individual and possesses it. A person capable of beingpossessed is sometimes called a medium. The deity, spirit orpower uses such a person to communicate to the immanentworld.
  13. 13. Spiritual AwakeningA spiritual awakening is a Religious experience involving arealization or opening to a sacred dimension of reality. Often aspiritual awakening has lasting effects upon ones life.
  14. 14. ? Causes Spiritual ExperienceMeditationPrayingMusicDance such as: Sufi whirlingExtended exercise, often running in a large communal circle, which is used in various tribals.Extreme pain
  15. 15. Profound sexual activityUse of Entheogen (psychoactives)such as: Opium Cannabis Mushrooms EthanolPsychological or neurophysiological anomalies, such as: Profound depression or schizophrenia Temporal lobe epilepsy StrokeNear-death experience
  16. 16. Scientific Studies on Spiritual experiences Transpersonal psychology Psychology of religion Neurotheology
  17. 17. Transpersonal psychologySchool of psychology that studies the transpersonal, self-transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human experience. It is-"the study of humanity’s highest potential, and withthe recognition, understanding, and realization ofunitive, spiritual, and transcendent states ofconsciousness"
  18. 18. It distinguishes between institutional religion and personal religion.Institutional religion: refers to the religious group or organization, and plays an important part in a societys culture.Personal religion: in which the individual has mystical experience, can be experienced regardless of the culture.
  19. 19. Psychology of religionPsychology of religion is the psychological study of religiousexperiences, beliefs, and activities.
  20. 20. NeurotheologyNeurotheology, also known as biotheology or spiritual neuroscience,is the study of correlations of neural phenomena with subjectiveexperiences of spirituality and hypotheses to explain thesephenomena.Proponents of neurotheology claim that there is aneurological and evolutionary basis for subjectiveexperiences traditionally categorized as spiritual orreligious.
  21. 21. According to the neurotheologist Andrew B. Newberg, neurological processes which are driven by the repetitive, rhythmic stimulation which is typical of human ritual, and which contribute to the delivery of transcendental feelings of connection to a universal unity. For this to occur they say there must be a blending of the rhythmic stimulation with ideas.
  22. 22. Studies of the brain and religious experienceEarly studies in the 1950s and 1960s attempted to use EEGs tostudy brain wave patterns correlated with "spiritual" states.During the 1980s Dr. Michael Persinger stimulated the temporallobes of human subjects with a weak magnetic field. His subjectsclaimed to have a sensation of "an ethereal presence in theroom.".Some current studies use neuroimaging to localize brain regionsactive, or differentially active, during religious experiences.
  23. 23. What Science does?Defines and classifies spiritual experience in a systematic manner Utilizes the existing knowledge in medicine and psychology to explain the occurrence of spiritual experienceTell us regarding the management
  24. 24. Conclusion(nature/ existence) Inconclusive !
  25. 25. Vedanta Philosophy and Spiritual ExperienceWhy Vedanta philosophy ?It is the last part of vedas which speak about knowledgeNot by a particular personality but group of scholarsOne of the most scientific and bold religious views
  26. 26. DEFINITION AS PER VEDANTAAnomalous …Supernatural …intense naturalSpiritual experience ----- experience of spirit ( Atman/ Brahman)Theory is based on one common observation and one hypothesis
  27. 27. ObservationAnanda or bliss has no alternative
  28. 28. HypothesisAny substance break down further infinitely BRAHMAN ULTIMATE REALITY BASIC NATURE
  29. 29. QUALITIES OF BRAHMAN ( reality) SAT ----- TRUE CHIT ----- PERMANAT ANANDA ------ BLISS This reality not perceived always as we are bound by our senses --- the spell of Maya
  30. 30. Science “We are human beings having spiritual experience” Vedanta“We are basically spiritual beings having human experience under the spell of Maya”
  31. 31. Supernatural – perfectly natural phenomenon – a bit we allexperience in the form of ---HappinessDesire ------- complete------ for fraction of sec till another desirearises in mind ----- BRAHMAN which is inside ---- Happiness
  32. 32. Professor Associateprofessor
  33. 33. True spiritual experience ---------- experience of eternal happiness ----- samadhi --- Mystique , spiritual awakeningTrue spiritual --- same in all faiths ---- as bliss.Various forms ------ psychological phenomenon ---- as they differ according the faith and practices.
  34. 34. Journey towards supernatural can be enhanced by Purity of mind --- control of desires Association with holy men Raj yoga Karma yoga Gyan yoga Bhakti yoga
  35. 35. Verification of true spiritual experienceShould not be under the influence of intoxicantsRepeated again and againCompare it with the experiences of the holy menCompare with the true scriptures … Upanishads and Brahmasutras
  36. 36. Make a drastic positive permanent change in personThe process of verification is long, tedious and based on rejecting the null hypothesis.( Neti neti vichar)Can be experienced by other person if he follows the same path.
  37. 37. What Vedanta does?Defines what is spiritual experience and provides explanation for its accourance.Tells us how to differentiate between the true spiritual experience and pathological state of mind --- but does not tell us how to deal with this pathological stateMeeting point of orthodox religion and science towards the path of truth
  38. 38. Student : Sir, does adrenaline increase the heart rate ?Teacher : yes! I have seen it clearly and if you perform the experiment exactly as I tell you I can assure that you will also see the same.
  39. 39. Narendranath Dutta : Sir, have you seen God ?Shri Ramkrishna : Yes , and more clearly than I see you now, ifyou do exactly as I say I can assure you that you will also be ableto see God.
  40. 40. Anomalous spiritual experiences HOW TRUE ? Spiritual experiences are both true and false ( anomaly ) The entity of true anomalous spiritual experience exists and it should be respected It should be differentiated from the other experiences with verification criteria. The false spiritual experiences needs counseling and treatment. We must combine Psychiatry , Psychology and Vedanta
  41. 41. AcknowledgementsRespected Dr. P. Behere , Dr. Praveen KhairkarSwami Brahmeshanandaji Maharaj – President RKM ChandigarhGoogleWikipedia
  42. 42. Thank you ….