Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mysticism and science

Reflections on a article in theology and science by N.M. Laurendeau entitled 'Christian mysticism and science: the psychological dimension' (Routledge 2013).

In my own mystical experience (labelled the baptism in the holy spirit), I experienced power like electricity in a what I can only describe as outer space, dark and black but without any fear. The author quotes a number of mystics who describe God in the darkness similarly: Gregory of Nyssa, The Cloud of the Unknowing, John of the Cross and Louis Dupre (who talks about ascending the ladder of darkness).

A few quotes:
the inferior temporal lobe and amygdala, in particular, were found to contain dense neuronal fields along the neocortical surface that could fire selectively in response to visual images infused with religious emotions, similar to out-of-body experiences (p.13)
we might say that while the brain is created by God, God is also created by the brain (p.14)
monks experienced timelessness using meditation while nuns experienced unity using contemplation...meditation activates the arousal function and inhibits the quiescent function, whereas contemplation inhibits the arousal function but activates the quiescent function...however, persistent activation of both produces functional disequilibrium resulting in a feeling of no space and time, an altered state of consciousness and trance state (p.14)
Bernard of Clairvaux says there are 4 degrees of love, (1) loving oneself for our own sake, (2) loving God for our own sake, (3) loving God for God's sake and (4) loving oneself for God's sake.