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"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making the Boundaries Between the Self and Others Disappear

Fascinating studies (at Johns Hopikns Medical School, the University of Arizona; Harvard; New York University; the University of California, Los Angeles; and other places) are being carried out on the use of psychedelic substances - halllucinogens - involving psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in certain mushrooms for depression in cancer, for obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs or alcohol. as reported in an article in the New York Times recently.

"Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs’ potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness."

[...]

"Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate. These similarities have been identified in neural imaging studies conducted by Swiss researchers and in experiments led by Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins."

"In one of Dr. Griffiths’s first studies, involving 36 people with no serious physical or emotional problems, he and colleagues found that psilocybin could induce what the experimental subjects described as a profound spiritual experience with lasting positive effects for most of them. None had had any previous experience with hallucinogens, and none were even sure what drug was being administered."

[...]

"Since that study, which was published in 2008, Dr. Griffiths and his colleagues have gone on to give psilocybin to people dealing with cancer and depression, like Dr. Martin, the retired psychologist from Vancouver. Dr. Martin’s experience is fairly typical, Dr. Griffiths said: an improved outlook on life after an experience in which the boundaries between the self and others disappear."

"In interviews, Dr. Martin and other subjects described their egos and bodies vanishing as they felt part of some larger state of consciousness in which their personal worries and insecurities vanished. They found themselves reviewing past relationships with lovers and relatives with a new sense of empathy."

“It was a whole personality shift for me,” Dr. Martin said. “I wasn’t any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people. You have a feeling of attunement with other people.”

The subjects’ reports mirrored so closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences, Dr. Griffiths said, that it seems likely the human brain is wired to undergo these “unitive” experiences, perhaps because of some evolutionary advantage."

“This feeling that we’re all in it together may have benefited communities by encouraging reciprocal generosity,” Dr. Griffiths said. “On the other hand, universal love isn’t always adaptive, either.”

[...]

"“Under the influences of hallucinogens, individuals transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states before the time of their actual physical demise, and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance of the life constant: change.”

Read entire article here

Due to all my reading in neuroscientific advances in recent research, I now wonder if we can't in fact, come to the same place these hallucinogens promise us with their lure of  "easy" psychedelic adventure, by full awareness, by the practice of mindfulness, by centering - so to speak - on the self, on that part of us that leads us to the sense of one-ness, compassion, empathy and love.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Legalizing Euthanasia

Another wonderful website that offers programs that stimulate the mind and encourage thought, is IQ2 - Inteliigence Squared - The Australian Forum for Live Debate. The website came to my attention via Live Station, a website that offers software that can be downloaded in order to watch numerous television channels both international and local, that for some reason one may not be receiving via one's own TV provider.

At any rate, on IQ2 live debates are offered on many subjects, such as:
  • Only capitalism can save the planet
  • Feminism has failed
  • Our obsession with self is destroying our communities
  • The media cannot be trusted TO TELL the truth
  • The pursuit of happiness is making us miserable
  • We’d be better off without religion
Some of the above have already taken place, some are future events. Others, also available on the website, are more suitable specifically for Australia, but many, such as the above, are global issues.

What brought it to my attention was the debate about euthanasia that took place in February 2009. It is thought-provoking, and I for one, totally support the idea of it, with some ethical guide-lines in place. Listen to the debate here.

Intelligence Squared in Other Countries

IQ 2 UK click here
IQ 2 USA click here
IQ 2 Asia click here