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Recent advances in brain research using brain imaging techniques such as SPECT, fMRI and EEG have indicated that the human brain is already hard wired for enlighten­ment. It seems that the brain, over millions of years of evolu­tion, has been prepared for the experien­ce of unity with Cosmos or oneness with God.


Andrew Newberg, professor of nuclear medicine at the University of Pennsylva­nia, is author of the acclaimed book ‘Why God Won’t Go Away’. In an attempt to bridge science and spirit Newberg studied eight Tibetan Buddhist practitioners during meditation using SPECT scan. The images he captured showed that the brain’s prefrontal cortex during deep meditation lit up in a red color indicating an increase in blood flow and neural activity in that area. At the same time, surpri­sing­ly, the upper rear part of the brain called the parietal area turned a dark blue shade indicating a sudden drop of brain activity in that area which Newberg calls the Orientation Association Area (OAA).

Newberg theorizes that when the medi­tator withdraws from the outside world, sensory input to the OAA is blocked and the neural activity in that area is shut down. At the same time due to the intense concentration (on a mantra, on God or guru) the prefrontal cortex or the Attention Association Area (AAA) is strongly acti­vated and will now assume the role as the brain’s new experiential center.

The OAA is the area which gives us the ability to orient ourselves in space and time and which gives our bodies a sense of physical limits and the self a sense of separateness from the rest of the uni­verse. When the OAA is deactivated the physical limits of the body and the sense of separateness disappears. The brain can no longer create a boun­dar­y between self and the outside world, or locate itself in physical reality. As a result, Newberg says, the brain has no choice but to perceive that self as end­less, interwoven with everyone and everything.  This is the state Newberg calls Absolute Unitary Being. We prefer to call it the Oneness State.

Newberg’s research suggests that the process of awakening is not only due to psycholo­gical change or a change in philosophy and values. No, it is primarily due to a fundamental change in brain function with a shift in brain dominance from the parietal (OAA) to the prefrontal (AAA) area. When the over-activity in the OAA is decrea­sed and the under-activity in the AAA is increased, there is a shift of the brain’s com­mand center and the individual wakes up to a higher level of consci­ous­­ness and to a new reality which seems to be even more real than the old one.

Richard Davidson. Some of Newberg’s findings have been corroborated by neuro­scientist Richard David­son, University of Wisconsin. Davidson collaborated with Tibet’s Dalai Lama who sent eight of his most accomplished meditators to Davidson’s laboratory for a scientific study.

Using both EEG and fMRI scans, Davidson studied the monks during deep medi­ta­tion and found very high activity in the prefrontal cortex - especially on the left side which has to do with feelings of joy, happiness and compassion. The EEG recordings during deep meditation showed extre­mely powerful Gamma waves in that same area of the brain.

Since there were no detailed descriptions of the monks’ levels of spiritual development in the above studies we have no idea whether any of them were in a permanent awakened state.

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Comment by Sunmover on January 21, 2012 at 9:41am

You know that you can set your intention to meet with your Diety while your body is sleeping and then become aware of your dreams and inner knowledge as the days go on.   You have such meetings anyhow without remembering but taking a more interactive role ensures the awareness comes into the conscious mind.

Comment by Danica-Christine van Vuuren on January 21, 2012 at 6:59am

A truly fascinating read! My psychology professor taught us how to meditate in class last year for the sake of releiving stress, esp. foor exams and times prior to hard study. Since I had been practicing meditation for quite some time, this was a nice addition, but I prefer other techniques, particularly those ddicated to meditating solely on one's Deity.

Comment by jpl on January 20, 2012 at 11:34am

This is great, thank you!

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