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7134Re: Religious similarities/contrasts

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  • lady_caritas
    Feb 5, 2003
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, AJRoberti@a... wrote:
      > Hello Cari,
      >
      > << Anybody feel strongly one way or another? >>
      >
      >
      > I've been developing a set of parallels between the Tao Te Ching
      and Gnostic
      > Christianity. They are quite extensive, but they are not IMO the
      result of
      > "cultural cross-pollenization." That would be too difficult to
      demonstrate
      > anyway. I think the parallels are actually rooted in the universal
      nature of
      > mystical experience.
      >
      > With the advent of neurological investigation into the biology of
      mystical
      > experience ("neuro-theology") the case for universal mystical
      experience is
      > much strengthened from a sceptical viewpoint -- it is obviously not
      something
      > a bunch of people "made up" while sitting around one day, it is a
      verifiable
      > element of common human experience.


      Tony, you bring up a very interesting point about mystical
      experience, which has been a fascinating subject of neurological
      research in the last few years. Here is one informative link:

      http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/neuro/neuronewswk.htm

      (Your Brain on Religion:
      Mystic visions or brain circuits at work?
      By Sharon Begley, Newsweek, Copyright May 7, 2001.)

      A section of this page reflecting discussion with Dr. Andrew Newberg
      of the University of Pennsylvania:

      >>>...just because an experience has a neural correlate does not mean
      that the experience exists "only" in the brain, or that it is a
      figment of brain activity with no independent reality. Think of what
      happens when you dig into an apple pie. The brain's olfactory region
      registers the aroma of the cinnamon and fruit. The somatosensory
      cortex processes the feel of the flaky crust on the tongue and lips.
      The visual cortex registers the sight of the pie.

      Remembrances of pies past (Grandma's kitchen, the corner bake
      shop ...) activate association cortices. A neuroscientist with too
      much time on his hands could undoubtedly produce a PET scan of "your
      brain on apple pie." But that does not negate the reality of the
      pie. "The fact that spiritual experiences can be associated with
      distinct neural activity does not necessarily mean that such
      experiences are mere neurological illusions," Newberg insists. "It's
      no safer to say that spiritual urges and sensations are caused by
      brain activity than it is to say that the neurological changes
      through which we experience the pleasure of eating an apple cause the
      apple to exist."

      The bottom line, he says, is that "there is no way to determine
      whether the neurological changes associated with spiritual experience
      mean that the brain is causing those experiences ... or is instead
      perceiving a spiritual reality." <<<


      It seems, as you say, Tony, that mystical experience is a common
      denominator among various religions. I suppose how one interprets
      this type of experience varies a great deal when other factors are
      taken into account, such as environmental influences, genetic
      predisposition, and some with spiritual leanings might also add,
      predestination and/or level of spiritual consciousness. Could we
      also be seeing brain activity of this kind as indicative of *both*
      possibilities, ...that of physical brain circuits at work responding
      to material realities,... as well as spiritual perception in other
      instances? IOW, is there a difference between a psychic vs. a
      pneumatic mystical revelation? I personally don't equate the
      mystical experience with gnosis, but I can see it as a part of the
      experiential process.


      > I've seen hints of similar parallels between Vedic Brahmanism and
      Gnostic
      > Christianity as well. And as Klaus pointed out, many parallels can
      be found
      > with Mahayana Buddhism as well.
      >
      >
      > Ethphatah!
      > Tony Roberti


      Tony, please feel free to share with us some of your ideas, if you're
      interested at some point, regarding these parallels of which you
      speak.

      Cari
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