Saturday, November 19, 2011

Neurological Enlightenment, Part 2

Neurological Enlightenment, Part 2
by Scott Bradley

In the last post, I shared about the experience of Jill Taylor as she related it in a TEDTalk. She had a stroke due to a hemorrhage in the left side of her brain which resulted in an experience incredibly like that which is typically called enlightenment. What might this tell us?

As far as I know, Dr. Taylor has not come forth with a method whereby to duplicate her experience. No lobotomy or similar surgery has been prescribed. So, her experience must educate us in some more cognitive way.

One thing it seems to suggest is that this experience is a function of the human neuro-physical reality. It has a very physical dimension. Through the concrete structure of the brain one is able to experience what seems to be an absorption into a vast spiritual totality. Whether there is such a Reality, I cannot say. That one can experience what seems to be such a Reality seems apparent enough. And if you are experiencing it, the question of the reality of the Reality does not arise. If you're in the right-brain, the left-brain must take a back seat.

It is important to me that 'enlightenment' be a natural phenomenon simply because I have neither desire nor ability to believe and commit myself to a mythological package. It seems there are many religious (mythological) traditions which have grown up around this natural phenomenon. And because the mythology itself subsequently becomes a vehicle for the experience, it is thought to be the factual ('true') content of the experience itself. Thus, for example, does Zen provide a mythological structure of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Mind, in which to apply a method facilitating the experience. Similarly, the Christian mystics realized the same liberating absorption through their own mythological structure.

The question is, Do we need a mythology in order to pursue this experience or is it possible to proceed without one? Needless to say, I subscribe to the latter view. What we do need, it seems clear, is a method, and since the traditions themselves have already developed methods, it seems it would behoove us to consider them if we wish pursue the experience.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. I like such quotes a this to answer such things.

    This from Wei Wu Wei (the author) adapted by me to the point I forgot the original quote.

    "there is no method as a method requires an I to do it and no path as paths lead away."

    And from Tony Parsons.

    " The open secret communication can only point to the simple wonder of being and attempt to illuminate the futility of seeking for it. It does not accept or reject the teachings of spiritual path or process but it will expose, without compromise, the singular and fundamental misconception that drives the belief that there is something called a seeker that is able to find something else called enlightenment.

    Life is not a task. There is absolutely nothing to attain except the realisation that there is absolutely nothing to attain.

    What is sought remains hidden from the seeker by already being everything.

    It is so obvious and simple that the grasping of it obscures it. Never found, never knowable, being is the consummate absence that is beyond measure.

    Looking for being is believing that it is lost. Has anything been lost, or is it simply that the looking keeps it away? Does the beloved always dance constantly just beyond our focus?

    The very intention to seek for a treasure within life inevitably obscures the reality that life is already the treasure.

    By seeking the myth it dreams it can attain, the seeker effectively avoids that which it most fears . . . its absence.

    This message has been misunderstood if it is believed that it is saying that there is a "you" who can or can't do anything about becoming enlightened.

    Many will reject this message and return to the comforting story of knowing and doing. But there can be a resonance within which the illusion of separation collapses and leaves nothing being everything.

    Doctrines, processes and progressive paths which seek enlightenment only exacerbate the problem they address by reinforcing the idea that the self can find something that it presumes it has lost. It is that very effort, that investment in self-identity, that continuously re-creates the illusion of separation from oneness. It is the dream of individuality."

    Funnily Wei Wu Wei also has a book with the same title, the open secret. I'd recommend any of his boss to any one keen on this inquiry. Some quotes of his are

  2. Maybe Siddhartha had a stroke as a result of all that sitting under the bodhi tree?

  3. Well, the "I AM" only comes from the left brain activity, according to Jill Taylor (not sure the left/right brain split is as widely accepted as it once was, though). Thus, as Ta Wan says, how can "you" have a method if you are trying to not be limited to "you"? It's the old bootstrap problem.

    I guess its as you said: we just have to look to the traditions we have. They put it simply: just breathe, just listen, and without judgement or appraisal. Those are two great methods for realization, because they take you out of you


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