God and the Brain The Physiology of Spiritual Experience ~ Andrew Newberg

Is it our biological destiny to seek the divine? Is faith in a higher power a survival trait? On God and the Brain, Dr. Andrew Newberg presents intriguing evidence that the human brain is a “believing machine”—and that our capacity for self-transcendence and spirituality helps drive our evolution as a species.

This pioneer of brain studies presents the first audio course on his groundbreaking research into the fascinating links between faith, neurobiology, and the mysteries of the psyche, including:

>Why this emerging science enriches both the faithful and the skeptical
>How prayer and meditation enhance your health—tips for tailoring a spiritual regimen that
suits your individual needs
>How the world’s spiritual paths uniquely shape the brain and mind
>The “myth-making brain”—the survival value of our storytelling and human imagination
>The biology of forgiveness—why this critical spiritual skill is so important to your
physical and psychological wellness

No matter what you believe—or don’t believe—about God, the parts of your brain that manifest spiritual experience have a profound impact on your entire identity. With his balanced approach of spiritual wonder and scientific rigor, Dr. Andrew Newberg is a leader in exploring the uncharted territory where our human bodies overlap with our experience of the sacred. On God and the Brain, he shares core insights that will deepen your understanding of our most human gift—the experience of the divine. 

Universal Morality, Inclusivity, and the Brain – Andrew Newberg

Andrew B. Newberg, MD
Universal Morality, Inclusivity, and the Brain

The United Nations, New York – September 11, 2009
Toward a Common Morality

Andrew Newberg, M.D -Neurology of Saints & Gurus

Andrew Newberg, M.D gives a more scientific explanation of various mystical processes such as near-death experiences ,meditation and how these can affect one’s perspective upon reality as well as upon one’s life.

Andrew Newberg, M.D. is an associate professor of radiology and psychiatry and an adjunct assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind. He is co-author of Why God Won’t Go Away, Born to Believe, and The Mystical Mind.

Avatars and Pedophilia ~ James Swartz

Hello Ram,

Last night your explanation of how the vasanas create action was very helpful. My perception is that people in general are not thoughtful enough to recognize how they create their own suffering by choices, nor do they see that the choices become habits/vasanas that create perceptions that develop into lifestyles that become filled with a sense of struggle. I was reminded how fortunate I have been to keep my lifestyle plate fairly simple so there is time/energy and mind to decipher consequences rather than allowing myself the luxury of spontaneously dealing with consequences later.

Very infrequently has the SELF opted for that path. On another note…in reading Ramana’s teaching in your book…I was reminded about his near death experience. I had read it in years past when I was reading a lot about his life and teachings. I was also reminded of how my near death experience in 1962 set me free regarding any question of life after death. Being raised in Christianity, I believed in heaven and hell. I wanted to get to heaven and feared hell. So my spiritual practice was fear motivated. Reincarnation set me free of the idea that you have only one opportunity to get it right. The near death experience of bodilessness and being in the brightest possible white light with an unlimited awareness but otherwise being intact…seeing…hearing…thinking…awareness…put to rest any possible fear of the hereafter too.

The next issue was simply how to get to awareness. As you know that has not been so spontaneous. However, my journey as been filled with much grace. The awareness of the need for a teacher, the motivation to take the action…in my case many austere trips to India, conscious focus…and the financial resources to travel the path. Gratitude abounds!!!!

It has been quite an alone path……not to be confused with lonely. There has been an awareness and comfort of God all along…..just not many people with which to share at a deep level of recognition…the power or the understanding of truth. As Sai Baba says “I am God and you are God…the difference is I know it and you do not”. There are very few people I could share a knowing like that and still continue the conversation.

At the end of your story you made references to false teachers/gurus/avatars who may also be pedophiles. I am very aware of the negative allegations around the PERCEPTION that Sai Baba is a pedophile. Because of my personal connection with Baba I have an understanding of who He is based on personal experience. Sometime when we have an opportunity for a chat I would be interested in your perception and ideas around that or if you have formed any one way or the other.

So Ram, I too am delighted to have a friend I feel I can sit down and have a chat with about the joy of this perceptual trip into form. It is simple but also amazing. As you can see….. the word perception has jumped out from your talks and it is very clear and useful in describing reality. Thank you!!! Much love.
Markus

Hi Markus,
Yes, I immediately recognized the single pointedness of your intention for truth. It is one of the four main qualifications for moksha. You had previous lives in India and practiced yoga and that poonya resulted in a meritorious birth in this life…good parentage. The path is always alone because there is only one being. Swamiji used to say that the spiritual path was ‘alone, all alone to the alone.’ You are right. It has nothing to do with lonely. I don’t know if it would be wise for us to discuss the Sai Baba pedophile issue. I value your friendship and respect your spirituality as it is, apart from the help you got from others.

So this is a dangerous issue to discuss with a Sai Baba devotee. Devotees are almost never objective about the object of their devotion. You cannot count on their personal experience. In Vedanta we call this personal conviction the pratibhasika level of reality. It is certainly true for you. It is your personal conviction. But it is equally the personal conviction of others that Sai Baba is other than what he appears to be. Who are we to believe? Is your experience true to the object or is it true to you? There is no objective truth for jivas.

There is no objective truth in samsara. It is all relative to the point of view of the one who experiences it. Jivas all only see the world the way they see it…according to their tendencies. When your non-dual vision is perfect, nothing stands out, nothing stands above or beyond anything else. The apparent Sai Baba and his apparent devotees and his putatively apparent victims have only a conditional dependent existence. They are not real. They appear and then they disappear in into the awareness from which they are born. The truth is that you do not know and I do not know because we were not there in his life on a daily basis to see who he is behind the Godman image, if anyone. And there is no objective way to determine his spiritual status…or anyone else’s for that matter…because there is only one self and all the individuals are apparent entities, including Ram and Bonnie. I do know for certain, however, that nobody with a body in this life is vasana free.

Every apparent being that has a body has desires and/or fears in one way or another. Some are pure and some are not, depending on your definition of purity. And I do not in any way believe in the deification of human beings. In fact, as powerful in a worldly sense as Sai Baba is, he is not Isvara. When he is gone the world will continue with all its good and all its evil. He is just the self masquerading as another jiva, playing the role he is intended to play, dancing like a puppet on Isvara’s string, to me. If he was Isvara he would never change, never die.

I personally… not that I see myself as person…do not put much importance on spiritual stuff, gurus, avatars, etc. I think that when evaluating people in Maya, the only valid standard is dharma. To what degree does the person follow dharma?

Sai Baba has certainly generated much good karma by his actions. Whether he generated any bad we do not know. Some say he did. Did he use the vast good karma to neutralize the bad karma and avoid the consequences of his actions? Quite a few people perceive that he did. Are they honest people? How can we tell? I have a very objective mind. I keep things simple. I know what happens in my life and that is enough for me. If Jesus or Buddha came to visit and started acting big I would cut them down to size. If a criminal came to my house asking for food I would give him a seat and feed him. Whether Sai Baba helped you or whether you helped you, or Isvara helped you, what does it matter? You know who you are. This is all that matters. Love,
Ram

Enlightenment: The Path through the Jungle by Dennis Waite

What is enlightenment? What is it not? exposes the myths and defines this misused term once and for all. Which teaching methods will get you there? And which will not? explains how the traditional methods work and why the modern, Western approaches are most unlikely to.

The clearest book that has ever been written on the subject of enlightenment, it provides a detailed examination of the satsang phenomenon (and its more extreme, neo-Advaita variant), contrasting these approaches with the traditional methods passed down from teacher to disciple for over a thousand years. It indicates what is needed in the way of preparation and path in order to gain enlightenment, given some modern teachers statements to the effect that there is no person and nothing to do. With a Foreword by Dr. Greg Goode, philosophical counselor and one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the subject of non-duality.
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Dennis Waite’s Biography
Following an intense scientific-based education through the nineteen sixties, he emerged with a fundamental dissatisfaction with the perceived values and belief systems of Western society. Thus began his search for a philosophy that could provide satisfactory answers to the universal questions of life. He joined the Ouspensky influenced School of Economic Science in London in 1972 but left after several years, disillusioned with the lack of rigour and the mystical element. He renewed his involvement with them in the mid-eighties, by which time Shri Shantananda Saraswati, one of the four Indian Shankaracharyas was directing the School along a path influenced by Advaita and Sankhya Yoga. He remained with the School until 1998, by which time he had been acting as a tutor for four years at the Bournemouth branch and was assisting in the teaching of Sanskrit. He left because some of the teaching methods and much of the material diverged from the tenets of pure Advaita.

He is a moderator of the Advaitin Email Group (Chief Moderator in 2007) and a member of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation in London, for whom he produced and maintains the website at http://www.ramana-maharshi.org.uk.

His own extensive website is http://www.advaita.org.uk . This contains essays on topics relating to the spiritual path of Advaita Vedanta and other material, together with links to relevant organisations, teachers and resources. He still reads extensively on the subject, though no longer actively ‘seeking’. He is the editor of the Advaita sub-category for the Open Directory Project on the Internet (http://dmoz.org/Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Advaita_Vedanta/).

Educated to degree-level in Chemistry, he has worked for most of his life in computing. Since 2000, he has devoted his life to writing. He completed a philosophical/ecological thriller in 1999 (extensively revised in 2007-8) and a book on Earned Value metrics in March 2001. His first book on Advaita, ‘The Book of One’, was written for students of that path and published in 2003. An introductory book on Sanskrit (‘The Spiritual Seeker’s Essential Guide to Sanskrit’) was published in India in 2005.

His book ‘How to Meet Yourself’, published in 2007, was aimed at the non-specialist reader and addresses the fundamental topics of meaning and purpose in one’s life and the nature of happiness. Though not intended for the ‘spiritual seeker’, its intention was that, by the end of the book, the reader will wish to become one! It approaches the subject from the standpoint of western philosophy, sociology and psychology but increasingly introduces Advaitic concepts so that the last two chapters explain in some detail the non-dual nature of self and reality.

His major book on Advaita, also published in 2007, was entitled ‘Back to the Truth’. This is a systematic treatment of Advaita which, by using examples from many sources, helps the reader to differentiate between approaches and teachers. It compares the scriptures of traditional Advaita with the words of contemporary Sages and with the modern ‘nothing to be done’ teaching of neo-Advaita. Should we ignore the mind? Is the world real? Is there anything we can do to become ‘enlightened’? These questions and many more are addressed and explanations given, in their own words, from those who discovered the truth.

His most recent book, published in 2008, was ‘Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle’. This aimed clearly to define the term ‘enlightenment’ and dispel the many myths about it propagated by ‘new-age’ books on the subject. It endeavoured to set down the proven methods, passed down for over a thousand years in the traditional teaching of the subject and contrast these with those of modern ‘satsang’ teachers and the non-teaching of neo-advaitins, demonstrating in the process that only the traditional methods are likely to bring about enlightenment.
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