Mystical Mind

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How does the mind experience the sacred? What biological mechanisms are involved in mystical states and trances? Is there a neurological basis for patterns in comparative religions? Does religion have an evolutionary function? This pathbreaking work by two leading medical researchers explores the neurophysiology of religious experience. Building on an explanation of the basic structure of the brain, the authors focus on parts most relevant to human experience, emotion, and cognition. On this basis, they plot how the brain is involved in mystical experiences. Successive chapters apply this scheme to mythmaking, ritual and liturgy, meditation, near-death experiences, and theology itself. Anchored in such research, the authors also sketch the implications of their work for philosophy, science, theology, and the future of religion.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How does the brain generate and process mystical states? What are the neurological explanations for religious experiences? How does the mind create myth, religious ritual and liturgy? The late D'Aquili (Brain, Symbol, and Experience) and Newberg, a researcher in nuclear medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, explore these and other questions in their exhilarating study of religion and the science of mind. The authors contend that since the "mind and brain are responsible for all of our experiences, they are also the mediator for our experience of God." Using the insights of neurology and neuropsychology, they develop a "neurotheology" that serves to explain how the mind functions to create religious experience. In the first section, the authors map out the structure of the brain, focusing on the parts that are most significant for understanding human emotion and cognition. Here the authors contend that the mind and brain form a kind of "mystical union," and they examine the ways in which the mind/brain provides "our advanced methods of experiencing and interpreting the external world." The second section explores the relationships between myth, ritual, liturgy and the mystical mind. D'Aquili and Newberg assert that "all religious and spiritual phenomena, including the concept and experience of God (Absolute Unitary Being), are generated by the brain and central nervous system." The book's final section argues that "Absolute Unitary Being (Pure Consciousness or God) paradoxically and counterintuitively generates experience and the world (including the brain)." D'Aquili and Newberg make difficult scientific concepts understandable and accessible as they formulate this fresh approach to religion and science. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780800631635
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Series: Theology and the Sciences Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 997,384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Prelude to the Mystical Mind 1
1 Introduction 3
2 The Brain and Central Nervous System 21
3 The Basis for the Mystical Mind 47
Pt. 2 The Mystical Mind 77
4 Why the Mind Creates Myth 79
5 Ritual, Liturgy, and the Mind 95
6 The Mind, Meditation, and Mysticism 109
7 The Near-Death Experience as a Mystical Phenomenon 121
Pt. 3 Neurotheology and the Paradox of Phenomenology 145
8 The Origin of Religion 147
9 Neurotheology 163
10 Consciousness and Reality 177
11 Metatheology and Megatheology 195
12 Epilogue: Some Practical Reflections 205
Notes 213
Index 223
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