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Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets…
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Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for… (2003)

by John Horgan

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It's clear the author has had no trans personal (mystical) experiences himself but his approach to mysticism is honest and the book lives up to it's name as "rational." He doesn't let skeptical ego-defenses impede his journalism too much. I read this 15 years ago though so it's been awhile. ( )
  Chickenman | Sep 14, 2018 |
This is the book he actual wanted to write, picks up right where ' End of Science ' leaves off. Interesting if you've been following along with all this. ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
My review of Rational Mysticism (including a rant on fundamentalism).

Just say "SO" (Little quote from Harry Shearer...):

So here’s the deal. I have been reading in comparative religions, mysticism, UFOs, Occult and paranormal phenomena since, basically, 1967. (Jeez. Almost 50 years).

John Horgan, in this book, presents the idea of enlightenment in this way: Basically, enlightenment can’t be understood (to which I say, “yep. Sho’ you right.”) But then he goes on to say that there are two possible ways to enlightenment, to wit: either you believe that it is realizing the ‘oneness’ of the self and the universe, or else it is being sceptical about the ‘oneness’ of the self and the universe.

It seems to me that Horgan (Mr.? Dr.?) has made the mistake of thinking that belief is required for enlightenment. To which I go, “Huh?” See, enlightenment has nothing at all to do with belief. Enlightenment is a state that it is possible for any human to reach, but the first step to getting there is to abandon belief. The universe does not conform itself to the belief systems of human beings. Enlightenment is a state of seeing (as Horgan seems to understand), and seeing what IS does not require belief.

What belief is for is modelling systems. This is the ladder. Set up a system and test it. If it rings true, there is most likely a problem. Find the problem and correct the belief system. Repeat. Belief is not a static principle. It is merely a way to keep track of where one is while advancing to the state of oneness with the universe.

I always operate from the principle that if an elderly scientist says something is possible, he is very probably right. If he says something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. (Arthur C. Clarke)

To any fundamentalists who might see this (Rant on fundamentalism starts here):

All I would like is freedom from fundamentalists (of whatever stripe). I think of fundamentalism as a religion separate from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and all the others. Fundamentalists belong to the religion that is based exclusively on fear and lies. They lie about what religion they are, they lie about what the holy texts say and what they mean, they discriminate against anybody who doesn't believe their lies and they kill people because they see them as threats to their religion.

What sane religion is practiced in this fashion? Fundamentalism is a twisted, psychotic parody of religion that pulls people in by brainwashing them and convinces them through fear that any crime is justifiable if it furthers the belief system.

I say Fundamentalism is a separate religion from all the religions that seek truth, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I say all Fundamentalists belong to the same religion: the one that is like a wolf in sheep's clothing. The one that disguises itself as something other than it is. The one that is based on lies and fear and that kills people in the name of belief.

I say Fundamentalism is faith-based evil. It is part of the axis of terrorism. ( )
1 vote Farree | Aug 31, 2014 |
This is the book he actual wanted to write, picks up right where ' End of Science ' leaves off. Interesting if you've been following along with all this. ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
I don't know if he's found the border of science and spirituality, but he's honest about that. The end was beautiful. ( )
  godinpain | Mar 29, 2013 |
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Book description
John Horgan, author of the best-selling The End of Science, chronicles the most advanced research into the mechanics—and meaning—of mystical experiences. How do trances, visions, prayer, satori, and other mystical experiences “work”? What induces and defines them? Is there a scientific explanation for religious mysteries and transcendent meditation? John Horgan investigates a wide range of fields — chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, theology, and more — to narrow the gap between reason and mystical phenomena. As both a seeker and an award-winning journalist, Horgan consulted a wide range of experts, including theologian Huston Smith, spiritual heir to Joseph Campbell; Andrew Newberg, the scientist whose quest for the “God module” was the focus of a Newsweek cover story; Ken Wilber, prominent transpersonal psychologist; Alexander Shulgin, legendary psychedelic drug chemist; and Susan Blackmore, Oxford-educated psychologist, parapsychology debunker, and Zen practitioner. Horgan explores the striking similarities between “mystical technologies” like sensory deprivation, prayer, fasting, trance, dancing, meditation, and drug trips. He participates in experiments that seek the neurological underpinnings of mystical experiences. And, finally, he recounts his own search for enlightenment — adventurous, poignant, and sometimes surprisingly comic. Horgan’s conclusions resonate with the controversial climax of The End of Science, because, as he argues, the most enlightened mystics and the most enlightened scientists end up in the same place — confronting the imponderable depth of the universe.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 061844663X, Paperback)

In Rational Mysticism, acclaimed journalist John Horgan embarks on an adventure of discovery, investigating the ways in which scientists, theologians, and philosophers are attempting to formulate an empirical explanation of spiritual enlightenment. Horgan visits and interviews a fascinating Who's Who of experts, including theologian Huston Smith; Andrew Newberg, explorer of the brain's "God module"; Ken Wilber, a transpersonal psychologist and Buddhist; psychedelic pharmacologist Alexander Shulgin; Oxford-educated psychologist and Zen practitioner Susan Blackmore; and postmodern shaman Terence McKenna. Horgan also explores the effects of reputed enlightenment-inducing techniques such as fasting, meditation, prayer, sensory deprivation, and drug trips. In his lively and thought-provoking inquiry, Horgan finds surprising connections among seemingly disparate disciplines, not the least of which is a shared awe of the nature of the universe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

How do trances, visions, prayer, satori, and other mystical experiences "work"? What induces and defines them? Is there a scientific explanation for religious mysteries and transcendent meditation? John Horgan investigates a wide range of fields - chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, theology, and more - to narrow the gap between reason and mystical phenomena. As both a seeker and an award-winning journalist, Horgan consulted a wide range of experts, including theologian Huston Smith, spiritual heir to Joseph Campbell, Andrew Newberg, the scientist whose quest for the "God machine" was the focus of a Newsweek cover story, Ken Wilber, prominent transpersonal psychologist, Alexander Shulgin, legendary psychedelic drug chemist, and Susan Blackmore, Oxford-educated psychologist, parapsychology debunker, and Buddhist.… (more)

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