The New Science of Transformation - How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, Amazon. For more details, click HERE
In our continued review of this authors work[i], How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain, we continue to learn more about the brain’s neurological activities during the subjective experiences of varying degrees of “enlightenment”.
This book is a further examination and extension of the authors prior journeys into the brain, and the neurological correlates of subjective experience pertaining to religious and spiritual experience. The work is divided into three sections. They relate sequentially to, the roots of enlightenment; paths taken or methods used in the pursuit of enlightenment, and how to prepare for, as well as experience ,varying types and degrees of transformational awareness and degrees of enlightenment ,that were identified during the course of the research. Additionally, in the last section are exercises shared for intensifying such experiences.
Throughout this work, a working description of enlightenment is given. Experiences are shared, and a system or hierarchy of awareness is provided to assist readers in recognizing different levels of mental operation and states of consciousness. The range begins with instinctual awareness and works its way through several stages, to what is called transformational awareness, and then onward to enlightenment. This last stage is seen to be a type of releasing, changing and liberating experience through which mild, to radically changing insights arise, allowing for a realigning of life. This paves the way for a sense of entering into a fuller experiential knowing, feeling, and state of being, that aligns with a greater and likely more encompassing life vision or worldview.
Part II, shares with the reader different approaches, paths, and means, that are used in the act of preparing for and accessing such a state. These experiences are drawn from individual subjects, each using various methods consistent with their faith and practice which facilitate entry into altered states. These include methods such as channeling, shaktipat or initiations of sorts by one considered to have such power and ability. Methods used by Mediums and , Sufi Mystics with their Whirling dervishes, Buddhist monks, Zen practitioners, Franciscan nuns, those of Pentecostal faith and practice, and others. Some of their experiences are shared, while correlating these with the neurological findings of SPECT scans[ii] which identify areas of the brain active during such subjective states.
Part III of this work both examines and shares methods or practices used in the preparation and approach to such experiences as well as benefits. For example, certain Zen practices, in conjunction with right preparations, where noted to lower the blood flow in the frontal lobes in such ways that a reduction in apprehensions, anxieties, worries, fears, and doubts might occur. Thus, some of these practices can change our habitual brains into flexible morel liberated brains. Other practices involving ritual, sound, repetition and movement, prayer, and mindfulness are shared. With right instruction and practice, obviously knowing how to tap into more healthier states daily would be of benefit to many persons in our society today. An important emphasis was placed on the fact that it is the experience of such states, not the thinking about them, that is most important. Finally, what happens after an enlightenment experience[iii] occurs is briefly examined.
This work allows a small but greatly meaningful look into the boundless landscape of the “Enlightened” perspective of life. It provides a view into the further expansion of consciousness and awareness that is operating for some, or might become more regularly operative in our daily lives, for the betterment of all.
As an aside, since this review is for a theosophical forum, from a theosophical perspective we feel it is important to always keep a clear distinction in mind and practice, concerning what involves passivity versus that which uses an active and vigilant approach to inner practice.
[i] See previous review, Why God Won’t Go Away
[ii] Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography. Spect scans monitor blood flow to certain areas of the brain, when they are actively in use, and also thereby reflect those that are turned off so to say, when not used or taken offline by a method or practice being used.
[iii] Keeping in mind that Enlightenment in this text has been viewed in different ways, and degrees.
This edition of Notable Books was compiled by Eugene Jennings.