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Neuroscience

 

Scientists have begun to study what happens to the brain physically when people meditate and get enlightened. This page contains links to sites that provide information in this area.

 

 RELATED PAGES ON THIS SITE  

 


An Exercise For Reducing Visual Hemispheric Dominance
By Freddie Yam
Yogis have done breathing exercises for years to make the nervous system function symmetrically. Here's a way to do the same thing with vision.


Neurotech
Our reference page on machines, software, music, etc., that help people enter meditative states. Background information, links, and book reviews.

 

 SITES 

 


Brain.com
Large site with wide variety of content. Written by professionals, funded by venture capitalists, and advised by scientists.


Neurosciences on the Internet
Extensive directory.


Synesthesia
An excellent website at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about synesthesia, a condition in which (for example) sounds seem to have colors, smells seem to have sounds, etc. We include the site here because many advanced meditators perceive similar phenomena. The site includes first-person descriptions of what synesthesia feels like.


Spiritual Neurology
Articles about the physiological correlates of spiritual states, links to consciousness-altering software, and related items. Also has a spiritual aptitude test.

 

 ARTICLES 

 


The Effect of Silent Thinking on the Cerebral Cortex

by Sir John Eccles
Eccles was a Nobel prize-winning neurophysiologist and biophysicist before his death in 1997. This paper touches on a number of areas, but we include it here because it summarizes research up to the late 1980s on physical activity in the brain during directed attention, which is the basis of many forms of meditation. One of the findings is that the frontal cortex requires a large blood supply during the awake state, possibly, Eccles writes, because of "all the random thinking in the awake state, which is sometimes referred to as day-dreaming (Ingvar, 1985)." In other words, mental chatter is hard work!


Summary of Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® Programs
by David Orme-Johnson (editor)
This article gives a brief overview of more than five hundred scientific papers that examine Transcendental Meditation (a traditional Advaitan method of japa meditation which is marketed in a modern way) from physiological, sociological, and psychological perspectives. Many of these papers were written by real scientists and published in respected peer-reviewed journals. A bibliography of the papers is attached. From the official TM website.

 

 

 BOOKS ON NEUROSCIENCE      


 

Zen and the Brain:
Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness
By James H. Austin, M.D.

The author is both a neuroscientist and Zen practitioner. This huge book (844 large pages) may be the best one so far about mysticism from a scientific point of view. There is a review online here.

BUY IT FROM AMAZON.

 

NEUROBIOLOGY
by Gordon M. Shepherd

This is a standard text used in medical and graduate schools as an introduction to the physiology and anatomy of the nervous system, the subjects covered by the ancient Indian theory of chakras and nadi. (It's interesting to note that the old theory was developed by Indian physicians at a time when caste laws prohibited them from dissecting or even touching cadavers, discouraging them from pursuing empirical neuroscience.) This book is useful for our purposes because it makes clear that the brain is a mechanism, strengthening our conviction that our mental processes are impersonal and our sense of self is a transiently occurring process. Make sure you get the current edition, because the book has been revised several times. Read more about it here on Amazon.com.


THE SYNAPTIC ORGANIZATION OF THE BRAIN
by Gordon M. Shepherd (editor)
This volume covers one of the most fascinating areas of current science; it is turning out that individual brain cells are fantastically complicated machines, and each one communicates with up to ten thousand others. Like Shepherd's other book that we recommend here, Neurobiology, this is a standard text used in medical and graduate schools. The difference is that Neurobiology is a general work that provides an overview of both large systems and cellular mechanisms; this book goes into much more detail on the functioning of individual cells and communications between small groups of cells. We recommend both for the same reason: by revealing that the brain is a mechanism, they strengthen our conviction that our mental processes are impersonal and our sense of self is a transiently occurring process. Make sure you get the current edition, because this book has been revised several times. Read more about it here on Amazon.com.

 


This page was published on January 26, 2000 and last revised on February 25, 2000.

 
 

New and Recent
October 2000


Showing Respect for Ramana by Elena Gutierrez. October 10.

The Gospel of Thomas translated by Stephan Patterson and Marvin Meyer. September 14

Sanskrit Language Texts compiled by Nadine Berardi. September 14.

Autobiography of an Indian Monk reviewed by Laura Olshansky. September 10.

Zen and the Brain reviewed by Gary Schouborg. September 7.

Prayer to My Guru, Sri Sri Sri Sivabalayogi Maharaj by Charlie Hopkins. September 6.

The Laser Swami by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. July 1.

How Will I Know If I'm Really Meditating? by John S. Anderson. June 30.

What Ramana's I-I Feels Like by Anonymous. June 12.

Self-Enquiry by Ramana Maharshi. June 9

Isa Upanishad translated by F. Max Müller. June 4.

Sexuality and Spiritual Awakening by Bonnie Greenwell, Ph.D. June 1.

Kena Upanishad translated by F. Max Müller. May 31.

Prasna Upanishad translated by F. Max Müller. May 30.

Sat-Cakra-Nirupana by Purnananda Swami. May 26.

Autobiography of a Monk by Shri Acharya Abhidhyanananda Avadhuta. May 25.

The Dance by Rev. Maureen Heffernan. May 23.

To Be and Not to Be: The Koan of the Ego by El Collie. May 23.

Aitareya Upanishad translated by F. Max Müller. May 21.

What We Learn in the Dark by Gary Schouborg. May 21.

Ellam Ondre by Vijai R. Subramaniyam. May 20.

The Way to Practice Vipassana Meditation by Sayadaw U Pandita Bhivamsa. May 20.

Finding a Teacher by Puran Bair. May 19.

Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. May 19.

Katha Upanishad translated by F. Max Müller. May 18.

I Need To Feel You Every Moment In My Heart by Charlie Hopkins. May 18.

Crest Jewel of Wisdom by Sankara. May 16.

Turning Blue: Natural Pranayama by Freddie Yam. May 15.

© 2000 Realization.org.