Human brain, spiritual awakening, and science


I recently watched a documentary showing people suffering from even slight damage to their temporal lobes experience immense spiritual awakening and visions of saints etc..The scientists concluded saying perhaps all spiritual experiences are but a byproduct of the mind and not something from beyond the mind. and that spiritual experiences are caused manly by faulty wiring in the brain and there is no such thing as a truth to pursue! I am now deeply confused..can you shed some light on this?

—Ashwin, Canada


Dear Ashwin,

The question/issue you raise is a bit of a tricky one. Of course many of the scientists of today are brilliant in their own right, which is to say that they often know a lot about some very small area of interest. And, they know what they know with their minds.

Unfortunately, they often don’t know what they don’t know and they loose sight of the limits of their knowledge. The show you refer to reminds me of the story of the devil coming to a genie and threatening or tempting her in some way. The genie has what she believes to be a special powder in her hand and sprinkles it over the devil in an effort to destroy him., but he simply laughs at the foolishness, explaining, “Before you could even throw the powder my way I had become the very powder you were trying to use to destroy me.”

The point of the story is that if we are trying to use our mind or our wit to ‘problem solve’ or see the Truth, then we are limited to what our mind can see. In order to see a Truth one must raise or expand one’s consciousness to the ‘level’ of that Truth and literally become it. As long as the scientists are trying see or discover truth with their minds they will never know it. This is what Einstein referred to when he said long before he could prove the Theory of Relativity he knew it to be true. He had intuited it and knew beyond a doubt that it was true before he could write the formula that others would understand.

Truth is not at all simply a fund of knowledge one can acquire; it is an experience, a revelation. One perceives the Truth, one doesn’t learn it.To know the Truth one would have to have had an experience of it. There is simply no other way to learn about this which is why Paramhansa Yoganada and his line of Gurus as well as Jesus and all other great saints and Avatars talk about meditation, or having “thine eye be single.” Only when we become one with the Truth do we truly know it. Yogananda called one of His early books, “The Science of Religion”, and through this and all of His teachings He invites us to carry on with our own experiment. He often advises us not to take anyone’s word for what these teachings convey but rather to sit in meditation day after day until we too know what He says to be true. He advises us to prove it in the laboratory of our own heart and our mind’s eye.

Meditate daily and ask God to show you the Truth, and at some point you will know even more than some of the greatest scientists of our day. This in no way demeans what they are doing, it simply holds it up in the very Light of Truth.