does the mystic experience god or chemical change

when mystics have their experience of god sunyata etc are they just misconsting a bodily change in chemical in the brain for this experience of god etc
In other words when a mystic says he has had union with god or experienced nirvana etc is he really only experiencing chemical changes in the brain which he misconstrues as a religion experience of god sunyata etc


perhaps you should read this before jumping to assumptions: … nyata.html


Science can show that there are chemical changes that create certain brain activities when one is in deep meditation or prayer. These chemical and brain activities can be correlated to reports of being connected to the mystery or to God. What can’t be discovered is if the chemical changes create the sensation of being with God, or if being with God creates the chemical changes. So the standoff between the empiricists and metaphysicians remains in place… Consult your local crystal… :wink:

Can’t just about everything be reduced to a chemical change, if that’s what you want to focus on?

And perhaps it is both? Maybe, in order to experience the Creator in His glory, a chemical change in the body is needed? It is said in esoteric texts that one should fast and purify himself in water before trying to ascend and experience a vision; perhaps the scientific reason is to alter the balance of homeostasis in the body?

Hi Ladyjane,

I’m sure we have been here before, but I couldn’t be bothered to look. However, the question that I would like to answer is what the mystic is experiencing when reaching a state of awareness in which he sees God.

The phases of prayer, meditation or contemplation involve a development of our potential to become alert and sentient. The first stage is however to become awake to reality around us. We tend to be steeped in our own thoughts and insecurities, almost unable to hear or see anything else but what we are looking at or listening to. Likewise, the fact that our mind is like a proverbial “tree full of monkeys” is common to all who endeavour to hear God. I think that to begin the discussion with a question of what is chemically going on in our brain, and whether it is the “chicken or the egg” doesn’t help here.

There are numerous ways to approach prayer, meditation or contemplation, but all involve a certain amount of self-discipline and a willingness to enter solitude for a while. This can be a difficult task for married couples because of the symbiotic union we often have with each other (not just because of sexuality, which is how Paul is often interpreted), but in fact anyone who has a “normal” social life in these times would have to make sure that telephones, door-bells and other means of disturbance have been switched off, and perhaps even that other members of the family know that this time is my time.

The frame of mind needed for prayer, meditation or contemplation is not something that is common to people. Many people are stressed, they transfer their state of mind to their bodies, have back-aches and neck-aches, can’t concentrate and feel generally tired, or have pangs of hunger or thirst. In this condition it becomes very difficult to make any progress. Our body state should be tolerable in order for us to confront our state of mind. Too much comfort dulls our concentration, just as too much discomfort distracts us.

Buddhists I know have their “SPOT” (special place of tranquillity), I have a book with words I have collected to guide me into and remind me of certain aspects of prayer, a cross that I hold in my hand and a cd that helps me measure the time (silence and a bell). Sometimes, if things are very hectic, I allow a meditative cd with collected tunes to play quietly. Important is that concentration is enhanced whilst relaxation grows. Some use a mantra to keep concentrated, some concentrate on a single sensation, some use beads and rosaries. The purpose is to be alert when the body and mind achieves a tolerable quietude.

If people want to have visions or hear voices they are likely to be disappointed. If visions and voices are heard, then we need to understand what we are telling ourselves, because the first confrontation we have is with ourselves. The unconscious often rises to the surface and projects those things we have managed to subdue during the day. That is why it is often sensible to call these things into view to begin with. Reflecting these things is helpful. Considering people we have met during the day or the week and developing a sense of broadness, widening our hearts and letting go of rigid ideas helps us in coping with the tenseness of everyday life.

Contemplating on what what other people have done for you in both big and small ways, remembering the warms words they have spoken, developing a thankfulness can help us prevent resentment, which is likely to swallow us up if we allow it to. You may come to see that every encounter is an opportunity to repay someone’s kindness and help you to focus on that, but it is also a way of forming direction. In this way you can influence people far better than planing to change them.

When your mind has become tolerably quiet and you can watch your thoughts coming and going without disturbing your peace, you become aware of your body, your surroundings, the sounds off of the street, in the house – or the trees, the birds and the wind. These too you have to understand as music, not as noises or disturbances. This is all part of understanding that the disturbance you perceive is in you and not in those sounds or senses. We are at odds with our physical existence, it isn’t the physical existence itself. There is nothing wrong with the world, it is as it is. It is good and flows on whether we are here or not. It isn’t benevolent or evil, it is there.

If we can get beyond the beginning phases, gradually progressing to a depth of meditation in which reception is the key word, we begin to approach the darkness that fills us with foreboding. It is the recognition of the fact that our knowledge can’t help us, what we are to other human beings can’t help us, but where we speak with Hiob, “So I declared, but did not understand things too wonderful for me; yea, I did not know. I pray, Listen, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You will make me know. I have heard of You by hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen You; Therefore, I despise myself , and I have repented on dust and ashes.”

The awe that arises in this “Cloud of Unknowing” is completely acceptable, because we need to pass through this with humility but knowing that we are coming home – prodigal sons, all of us. An abundance of imagery can confuse us, but that too we must tolerate. Much of it is from our unconsciousness, some of it damning and it may bring a tear to our eyes, but if we remain, we will find that this experience purges us of many things that we carry around. Only if we accept this kind of purgatory, will we make progress.

The awareness that follows opens an eye that we have seldom used, allowing a light to enter the darkness around us in wordless communion. Clarity and perspective, but also contradiction and paradox may confront us. Like a sleepless dream, whilst we are all the time aware of our surroundings, the Spirit is able to console and strengthen us, sending us into the world as compassionate foreigners, as “shepherds” sent to feed the flock. It makes us see and go on seeing, if only we would have the courage to commit ourselves to this task.

This isn’t a trance, it isn’t an hallucination, it is awareness. Whether you interpret you experience as the loving God or something else, isn’t really the point. Jews, Christians and Moslems will praise God and Taoists and Buddhists will probably keep silent. All will be thankful for the experience and incorporate their insight into their lives – that is what is important. Please remember that my words are only a weak attempt to describe “union with god” as you call it, but perhaps others have something else to contribute.