spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
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20-04-2013, 03:59 PM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(19-04-2013 04:09 PM)Luminon Wrote:  
(19-04-2013 07:06 AM)amyb Wrote:  There's always a source: neurotransmitters.
Please, don't jump to conclusions when you have none. Neurotransmitters are just that, transmitters. What is their origin? What transmitted them, in the first place? Endocrine glands. But why did they do it? Usually we can tell what do we react to. For example, adrenal glands react to threats. But if we remove all stimuli, including the self-stimulation of brain, what is there left to manifest itself?
Artificially stimulated feelings do not prove anything, except that the brain functionality is there, ready to be used. Used by what? If it takes the god helmet to meddle with one's mind, what kind of force acts upon us when we do not have the god helmet?

This experience is described in the book The Common Experience by J. M. Cohen across all times and cultures - including contemporary western civilization. Who wants to read this book, drop me a message.

Spirituality may be a serious business. I am very curious where it will lead. I believe there is a trinity of health change, psychologic change and a change of the TO manifestation. The greatest developments ever came in the last few months with no sign of stopping. I am positively ecstatic every once a while. Will I get used to it? Will it push me to a different level of daily life functioning? Will I gain a new way to look at things? I often did in the past. Or will my nerve system find a way to be less physically clumsy and apathetic? Will my intuition continue to increase? Will any of my vices diminish? It is true that some little things improved. I would not take it lightly. It does influence functions that are usually directed by the autonomous nerve system, such as breathing through both nose holes. And it does put me under a great pressure, a literal pressure in spine and skull. I wonder what kind of life style will that result in. Am I in any danger? (getting crazy)
I already consulted a psychologist about it - said nothing so far, just scheduled a meeting. I am going to find out what does the medical science have to say.
It is true that the neurotransmitters are not the source, but they are doing what they do in response to stimuli. The stimulus is the source. That's not jumping to conclusions. If your neurotransmitters are going haywire for no apparent reason at all, you may have a medical problem and should look into it if it causes distress, and I don't see how that has much to do with the topic at hand. Other than that, if you see or hear something beautiful, and you have pleasant feelings because of it, that's not "for no reason." The stimulus is the thing you find beautiful.
Quote: If it takes the god helmet to meddle with one's mind, what kind of force acts upon us when we do not have the god helmet?
Electromagnetism (God helmet is not the only source of this), suggestion, delusion, mental illness, hallucination, mistinterpretation of data, wishful thinking...
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20-04-2013, 06:27 PM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(19-04-2013 08:34 PM)Weeeeee_Zard Wrote:  
(19-04-2013 06:42 PM)fstratzero Wrote:  I have in the past experimented with drugs and managed to come out the other side quite fine.

With that said the experience I had with drug never produced anything spiritual. They were most of the time fun, sometimes scary, and other times produced feelings of complete perfection. Salvium divinorum lead me out of my body into a world that was nonsensical. Not exactly spiritual, is was more like being in world that didn't make any sense.

My only "spiritual experience" came from setting out side in the forest trying to imagine the interconnectedness of everything to everything else. Which made me feel the sense of how wonderful it is that we have this knowledge and that it is real. It's a sense of awe and wonder that we've figured that out, and that there is more to learn about. Other than that drugs and alcohol will not provide you with that, only knowledge will.

To my knowledge that is the secular spiritual feeling that we share.

This is pretty accurate, although I think that you are using the word knowledge where it should be wisdom.

This is how I understand it:

Knowledge is cumulative, we pile it up and it has lots to do with belief. Info that is subject to interpretation.

Wisdom is not cumulative, you achieve to have access to it and its the same to all of us. Can't accumulate wisdom and is not subject to individual interpretation. Has to do more with feelings and its more like common sense...

Another interesting thing is that you can update knowledge and replace it with a more accurate version. Wisdom is what it is.

Knowledge and wisdom are usually confused but at some point you need to drop your knowledge (as its like water under the river) .

Same with religion and spirituality.

As I've seen it used I always thought wisdom was more of a social intelligence, or knowing what to do in different situations. I was wrong I looked it up.

Wisdom - the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
Wise - having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.

According to this definition it's a type of applied knowledge. That is to say applying what you know to the world around you.

So I think if knowledge is cumulative than wisdom will give you different answers based on newer or older information.

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The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
-Baron d'Holbach-
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20-04-2013, 06:40 PM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(20-04-2013 03:59 PM)amyb Wrote:  It is true that the neurotransmitters are not the source, but they are doing what they do in response to stimuli. The stimulus is the source. That's not jumping to conclusions.
And I didn't mean that the experience does not involve neurotransmitters. All that happens in a natural world needs natural means of manifestation.

(20-04-2013 03:59 PM)amyb Wrote:  If your neurotransmitters are going haywire for no apparent reason at all, you may have a medical problem and should look into it if it causes distress, and I don't see how that has much to do with the topic at hand.
I have an inborn medical problem. It has nothing to do with it. There are other people who underwent a spontaneous mystical experience that completely changed their outlook on life, without any apparent cause. There are living examples today, of various ages and completely healthy. And many such people in history became known as religious figures. Perhaps St. Paul or Gautama Siddharta were some of them. I'd say considering an effect this has on people and global history, it's one of the more important fields of psychologic research.

(20-04-2013 03:59 PM)amyb Wrote:  Other than that, if you see or hear something beautiful, and you have pleasant feelings because of it, that's not "for no reason." The stimulus is the thing you find beautiful.
Only there is no such thing. Nothing, really. I don't feel all that much at the sight of Hubble telescope pictures or marine life in coral reefs. My surroundings are rather empty and bleak and my life monotone. It has been so for years already. Yet I woke up and felt the rather religious experience of unconditional love, even though I'm not religious and never been. Considering the neurotransmitter changes that must occur all over the day and considering the persistence of the experience, I don't think this has any effect.

Please, I feel like my intellect gets insulted if you presume there is anything I haven't thought of already, such as a stimulus. I did my homework, trust me. The intellect is one of few my parts that can get offended, usually it starts protesting at gross underestimation of its abilities.

(20-04-2013 03:59 PM)amyb Wrote:  Electromagnetism (God helmet is not the only source of this), suggestion, delusion, mental illness, hallucination, mistinterpretation of data, wishful thinking...
Again, I did my homework on this already.
Electromagnetism what? I've had this feeling in various places, various times and various situations.
Suggestion would presume some corresponding intention or effort on my part or someone else's part. Easy to notice.
Delusion? That's a matter of opinion. What I describe is an experience, a perception.
Mental illness? I'm 99 % sure I don't have one. I'd get it several times if I could, the things I've been through. Of course I can and will consult a psychologist, when I get the date.
Hallucination? See electromagnetism and suggestion.
Misinterpretation of data? C'mon...
Wishful thinking? I don't bother with it. It might distort the observations, and what are distorted observations good for? Instead I meditate, shut down all wishes and imagination and let any phenomena show up on their own.

This Cpt. Obvious homework drill is surely important and necessary on the internet full of lazy people. But do you have any original, constructive suggestions besides that? Or do you know about any neurologist on the forum?
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21-04-2013, 02:51 AM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(20-04-2013 06:40 PM)Luminon Wrote:  I have an inborn medical problem. It has nothing to do with it. There are other people who underwent a spontaneous mystical experience that completely changed their outlook on life, without any apparent cause.
I never said that bad chemicals never changed people's outlooks, I only said this change had a cause.

"Without any apparent cause" is not the same as "there was no cause."
"I can't explain it" =/= "It cannot be explained."

(20-04-2013 06:40 PM)Luminon Wrote:  This Cpt. Obvious homework drill is surely important and necessary on the internet full of lazy people. But do you have any original, constructive suggestions besides that? Or do you know about any neurologist on the forum?

You seem to be thinking that the thread is all about you. I was talking about "spiritual experience" as it relates to non-theists in general. There has been research into things like religious experience, which is I why I listed some of the causes cited by such research.
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21-04-2013, 08:45 AM (This post was last modified: 21-04-2013 09:09 AM by Luminon.)
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(21-04-2013 02:51 AM)amyb Wrote:  I never said that bad chemicals never changed people's outlooks, I only said this change had a cause.

"Without any apparent cause" is not the same as "there was no cause."
"I can't explain it" =/= "It cannot be explained."
By the no apparent cause I meant things like these you listed. Which doesn't mean there is no cause, but that the cause is there, only it is something NEW. Which means INTERESTING. And hopefully explainable.
I suppose there are people around who don't want things to be explained, but I'm not one of them. An explanation here might bring new discoveries in psychology, neurology and soft sciences like history or comparative religion.

(21-04-2013 02:51 AM)amyb Wrote:  You seem to be thinking that the thread is all about you. I was talking about "spiritual experience" as it relates to non-theists in general. There has been research into things like religious experience, which is I why I listed some of the causes cited by such research.
Yes, but these causes bring nothing new to the table. I'd rather if people looked at Itzchak Bentov's theory of what's behind the Kundalini phenomenon that leads to enlightenment. (or insanity and brain damage) This seems to be backed by neurologic measurements of people skilled at meditation and awakening Kundalini and much more interesting in my opinion.
http://www.newbrainnewworld.com/?Awakening_of_Kundalini
http://www.newbrainnewworld.com/?Awakeni..._the_Brain
And by the way yes, this thread is about me, spirituality is my hobby of many years and I'm not religious, so I'm the expert here. I believe secular people deserve to explore the actual spirituality and not just these sex, drugs, rock n' roll and Hubble telescope sensations. Imagine if with right training people could directly stimulate their pleasure centers in brain by mere focused thought! It feels great, I tell you. People have been doing it for ages under religious labels, but that doesn't mean atheists should keep away from that!
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21-04-2013, 09:35 AM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(21-04-2013 08:45 AM)Luminon Wrote:  
(21-04-2013 02:51 AM)amyb Wrote:  I never said that bad chemicals never changed people's outlooks, I only said this change had a cause.

"Without any apparent cause" is not the same as "there was no cause."
"I can't explain it" =/= "It cannot be explained."
By the no apparent cause I meant things like these you listed. Which doesn't mean there is no cause, but that the cause is there, only it is something NEW. Which means INTERESTING. And hopefully explainable.
I suppose there are people around who don't want things to be explained, but I'm not one of them. An explanation here might bring new discoveries in psychology, neurology and soft sciences like history or comparative religion.
By calling these things "mystical experiences," I assumed you were the one who was not interested in seeking an actual explanation. I'd rather find the reason for a thing rather than just assuming it's woo-related and calling it "spiritual."
Quote: not just these sex, drugs, rock n' roll and Hubble telescope sensations.
Nothing wrong with having sex with the Hubble telescope while on drugs listening to rock n roll, if that's what gets you off. I'm just saying that if you explain the woo sensation, it's not woo anymore, it's explained. That doesn't devalue it, it just means you can explain it.
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21-04-2013, 12:31 PM (This post was last modified: 21-04-2013 12:46 PM by Luminon.)
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(21-04-2013 09:35 AM)amyb Wrote:  By calling these things "mystical experiences," I assumed you were the one who was not interested in seeking an actual explanation. I'd rather find the reason for a thing rather than just assuming it's woo-related and calling it "spiritual."
Spirituality has a history. I suppose many scientists do not touch this field, because it's defiled with woo and ridden with mystics who described their experiences, but never left any solid science behind. Their experiences got distorted by religious traditions and now any scientist is at risk of displeased believers and conservative colleagues.
This Yitzchak Bentov fellow would be an exception, he seems to take these mystics under MRI, EEG and other devices and form plausible theories.
But there is a thing he failed to explain, what is this Kundalini that courses through the spine and brain and stimulates it so powerfully. It is described in abstraction as an "energy" and that's what it feels like, but we don't know what kind of energy. We can only observe it indirectly by its overall effect on brain centers. Certainly it is not some biochemical influence, it's more like a straightforward force of nature. See further.

(21-04-2013 09:35 AM)amyb Wrote:  Nothing wrong with having sex with the Hubble telescope while on drugs listening to rock n roll, if that's what gets you off. I'm just saying that if you explain the woo sensation, it's not woo anymore, it's explained. That doesn't devalue it, it just means you can explain it.
Yes, there's nothing wrong with them. What I'm saying that there's much more to spirituality than just these. You can take one way of more and more stimulation, or you can take the other way. The way of calmness, stillness, darkness, and discovering a great light, love and power within. And it is very counter-intuitive, because there is no apparent internal or external cause. The method of stimulation would be the intuitive way of a rock&rolling westerner.

I can't say it is or isn't woo - it always was a domain of woo, religions, mysticism and occultism, but perhaps it never was woo. Maybe it's real, maybe it's what our brain does when it opens itself to some kind of external factor. It does not seem like any such powerful stimulation would occur by itself. Sensory deprivation does not even come close. Some say electric properties change with health, mood, thoughts, attention... I'd almost think it's plausible that due to some kind of bodily discipline and steadiness of nerves gets the neuron pathways stable enough, so that they start to resonate with some bands of cosmic radiation or atmospheric charge or something. I would not be surprised if good old electricity would play a role, a buildup of electric tension between the top and bottom end of spine, and the endocrine changes during meditation allow some excessive voltage to slip along the spine, up or down. Obviously, this current is quite a stimulation. That might be my preliminary guess at what's going on. There are said to be hundreds of volts in electric potential per every meter of distance from Earth's surface. There is much to study in the biologic tissue in terms of electricity, such as electric properties of cell membranes, DNA, skin, the body as a whole and so on.
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21-04-2013, 12:46 PM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(18-04-2013 08:54 PM)hestarq Wrote:  I have a luxury problem, I have spiritual needs. Experiencing interesting states of mind.

What kinds of interesting spiritual experiences, states of mind can atheists or agnostics have?

So far I have tried THC, alcohol, meditation and self-hypnosis. My THC experiments ended years ago. It was a very good experience being high. I decided not to take it again because it I become demotivated the followings days. That can't be good in long run. Being drunk feel pretty lame, not interesting. Mediation is ok, nice, doesn't knock my socks off. Self-hypnosis is nice and useful as well, doesn't knock my socks off either. Learning actually is satisfying, so I learn more about science and transcendent topics.

I can't believe religions stuff, couldn't listen to their dogma, means, I couldn't attend their rituals. And this "clear" thing by Scientology is unproven as well, a joke, no one could ever demonstrate superior intellectual skills. Don't worry, I will learn everything about it for days before trying, stay skeptical... Just looking for pointers...

Can you recommend spiritual which is interesting and doesn't ruin my health or life?
Before anyone can answer you, you will have to give your definition of spirit, because the standard definition is contrary to the knowledge of Atheism. Also, what is a "luxury" problem?
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21-04-2013, 02:05 PM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(21-04-2013 12:31 PM)Luminon Wrote:   It does not seem like any such powerful stimulation would occur by itself.
Again, just because it does not seem that way to you does not mean such things cannot have a scientific explanation.

Quote:But there is a thing he failed to explain, what is this Kundalini that courses through the spine and brain and stimulates it so powerfully. It is described in abstraction as an "energy" and that's what it feels like, but we don't know what kind of energy. We can only observe it indirectly by its overall effect on brain centers. Certainly it is not some biochemical influence, it's more like a straightforward force of nature. See further
Again, I am not convinced that it cannot possibly be biochemical.

And yes, I am aware of the idea of kundalini. I was very into yoga as a kid and read up on such things. The site you linked to seems to be offering up a mix of science and pseudoscience, which is very attractive to a lot of people. I would agree that there are altered states of consciousness, different levels of awareness of things and concentration on things, but none of that is supernatural and just because you can clear your mind and control your breathing doesn't mean you've tapped into some supernatural force, I still see no compelling evidence for anything requiring the use of anything besides the brain and body. Just because you have different feelings and sensations does not mean those feelings and sensations come from anything but a natural source; the brain is very powerful.
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21-04-2013, 02:48 PM
RE: spiritual experience for atheists or agnostics?
(18-04-2013 08:54 PM)hestarq Wrote:  I have a luxury problem, I have spiritual needs. Experiencing interesting states of mind.

What kinds of interesting spiritual experiences, states of mind can atheists or agnostics have?

So far I have tried THC, alcohol, meditation and self-hypnosis. My THC experiments ended years ago. It was a very good experience being high. I decided not to take it again because it I become demotivated the followings days. That can't be good in long run. Being drunk feel pretty lame, not interesting. Mediation is ok, nice, doesn't knock my socks off. Self-hypnosis is nice and useful as well, doesn't knock my socks off either. Learning actually is satisfying, so I learn more about science and transcendent topics.



I can't believe religions stuff, couldn't listen to their dogma, means, I couldn't attend their rituals. And this "clear" thing by Scientology is unproven as well, a joke, no one could ever demonstrate superior intellectual skills. Don't worry, I will learn everything about it for days before trying, stay skeptical... Just looking for pointers...

Can you recommend spiritual which is interesting and doesn't ruin my health or life?

I have a similar problem. I don't want to die! I'll be nothing and I don't want to be nothing! I want to live forever! I also want that "spiritual" experience! That joy, love, peace! But it isn't real. We won't have it. Priests have lived their lives in persuit of it, trying to deny themselves the joy of sex, but needing human compatibility so bad that they tried to hide behind the bodies of children, in hopes that the children wouldn't tell. Hoping to beg god for forgiveness and it would be O.K. And noboby would know that they weren't chosen and were only human. But they aren't chosen. We will die! Life is not "spiritual" That's just the way it is.
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