Science and Mysticism
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For as long as history, mysticism has followed the humanity in many forms. Not surprisingly, almost every human culture throughout the planet has had its share of mysticism. From ancient urban civilizations to wild tribes of Africa and Americas, all have their tradition and specific methods to follow their mysterious paths and call the spirits of the other side of the world. Even at the arrival of 21st century, science is clueless as to what exactly triggers mysticism? Though science has made rapid strides in the last 50 years but for the most part, mysticism remains a mystery.
Triggering the Mysticism in Lab
With the advent of modern technology, scientists have been able to formulate some triggering methods which have been tested on various patients with a reasonable success. This manipulation method has been tested and verified over a span of 20 years and allows some deep study opportunity to scientists, who have been blind in terms of research and studies for the better part of last century. The hurdle is that human brain itself is very much a mystery to scientists, who have no idea what is the exact function of many of its parts. So far, scientists have observed and experimented one part which they deem responsible to cause some kind of mystic experience (Resent, 2008).
The temporal lobe is found to be that area, which has remained the center of study for many years now. The famous Bear experiment that occurred in late 1977 remains one the most authentic cases in this area. During simulation, it has been seen that upon triggered, temporal lobe sends signals of like a false reality, which has not been defined, and more is that they called these as temporal lobe specific personalities. They concluded that among other parts of life, religion is one aspect that has severe effects on the activation of temporal lobe because most people have a deep affection with religion and they take it seriously.
Causes and Research
They came up with the result that temporal lobe can create various traits in a person that can be anger, guilt, sadness, aggression to name a few. This experiment did give us an insight into the dark realm of mysticism, but there was much more to come in coming decades. Another category of mysticism is paranormal experience, which is very common among Americans in particular.
In a survey, 40% of contributors explained some sort of paranormal experience which included seeing mysterious figures; sleep paralysis, out of body experiences and contacting the dead in dreams or semi-sleep states. Surprisingly, these experiences are common in most parts of the world as far as India, China, Japan and Europe. The most puzzling thing is that most people define similar experiences while living thousands of miles apart. Such similar features are regarded by researchers as “universal features” and they are all related to the activation of temporal lobe in one way or another. Deep religious involvement is a great cause of spiritual experiences where a person experiences spirits contacting him/her or appearing to him/her while being asleep or even when awake (Schechter, Singer, 2009).
Meditation and Mysticism
Meditation is a state in which many patients learn to contact the mystic world by means of serious concentration. This method has been in practice in all religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In most researches, there seems to be a strong relation between religion and mysticism as scientists believe that most of the patients going through temporal lobe stimulation have claimed to have been contacted by spiritual forces of both good and evil in nature. There seems to be a varying effect on people, who have been experimented under strict lab conditions that in temporal epileptic foci (a specific syndrome), patients have had experiences different from those, who had neuromuscular disorders and showed specific psychological behavior differently (Schechter, Singer, 2009).
The temporal lobe experiments have found that patients, who have a diehard belief in their faith and are willing to do anything for the sake of their faith, have shown signs of paranormal experiences with regards of spiritual forces of good nature. There seems to be a positive effect on brain and overall health conditions on such patients as Maslow also notified during his studies that he saw such patients growing healthier and mentally strong to an extent that their will power was much stronger than those who never had any experience of such nature.
In terms of classification, scientists state it is more of a pathological state where, in extreme cases, the activation of temporal lobe is the main reason and the more it is stimulated, the more rapid and deep the experience becomes. However, in minor experiences, researchers say that is nothing more than personal creativity most of the times and not the temporal lobe effect. Pathology is associated with deep experiences but surprisingly there have been many cases which the science has no answer to (Schechter, Singer, 2009).
Despite these studies and researches, there is still a lot to be explored in the field of mysticism. Science is searching answers for various phenomena that remained unexplained to date. Among these, the most common is the belief in unseen deities. Several groups of people have claimed to have seen a strange-looking dark figure while they were going back home from work. The matter is, one person claiming such a thing can be wrong but several people claiming the same thing is disturbing. Not surprisingly, science has no answer. In another event, strange noises were heard by people travelling in a bus, all claimed to have heard it clearly as they heard each other. Another simultaneous experience, which has no explanation and gives rise to the question, is one person might experience temporal lobe or other psychological explanation, but a whole group going through the same experience is unexplainable unless they are all in the same state of mind and thoughts which seems impossible.
Also, the most disturbing part of mystic experiences is the paranormal activity such as ghostly experience by a family, where many people tell disturbing stories about an unseen presence disturbing the family. Even stranger is that this occurs while they are all awaken and not during sleep or partial sleep states. This removes the involvement of any known brain activity as things are seen through eyes and heard by ears, by many persons (Spike, McIntosh, 2009).
Science has unfolded few aspects of mysticism and has been on a constant search to answer many aspects that are yet to be answered. So far, through science, we now have a better understanding of what exactly mysticism is and what are the effects we have in our life while we go through any mystic experience. There are both positive and negative experiences that have been noted.
However, to a bigger extent, mysticism still remains an unexplored domain, which has puzzled scientific community and a common men alike. Till we see new researches coming and addressing new issue like disturbing presences and sounds heard by many, we have to wait for a while for slowly and steadily science is moving in the right direction to explore what remains perhaps the biggest mystery in human life.
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