Friday, February 19, 2010

Spirituality as a New Drug?

I just encountered a half dozen large screen flat TV sets today. About five of them were on a wall opposite each check out clerk in a supermarket I had not been in before – and playing the same cable program. I then encountered one of the behemoth screens in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.

I had to wonder where people are today on their cell phones or watching TV shows on iPods or the like. The background noise of our civilization is noise and not necessarily communication. I don’t use much of that. I have problems trying to get messages off my cell phone.

Surround yourself in a bubble. Surround your bubble into a larger bubble etc. In terms of technology it seems like we are only a decade or two away from computers like on the Star Trek TV show from the late sixties. Talk to the computer. Ask a question. It talks back. It gives you an answer. My grandparents were born and lived the early parts of their lives in houses without running water. Bizarre.

So too, here is an odd article that I encountered on a forum where it was listed with a thread title as something like “Spirituality is a disease” – not quite in my opinion.

What do you make of this?

Links to Spirituality Found in the Brain
Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say.

The study, published in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Neuron, involves a personality trait called self-transcendence, which is a somewhat vague measure of spiritual feeling, thinking, and behaviors. Self-transcendence "reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one's self as an integral part of the universe as a whole," the researchers explain. …

Selective damage to the left and right posterior parietal regions of the brain induced a specific increase in self-transcendence, or ST, the surveys showed. …

One study, reported in 2008, suggested that the brain's right parietal lobe defines "Me," and people with less active Me-Definers are more likely to lead spiritual lives. …
It’s pop science if it is only Yahoo and the Internet but wow. You see these movies where saints have visions and then they become prayful and “spiritual”. Makes you wonder if they fell on their heads as babies.

Makes you wonder what they could do with drugs to make everyone “spiritual”. Whatever.

And to round off this oddball assortment of pieces of a puzzle about the human condition, I caught what I thought was an odd obit about someone on Staten Island.

Howard Lotsof Dies at 66; Found Drug Treatment in an African Plant
Howard Lotsof was 19, addicted to heroin and searching for a new high in 1962 when he swallowed a bitter-tasting white powder taken from an exotic West African shrub.

“The next thing I knew,” he told The New York Times in 1994, “I was straight.”

The substance was ibogaine, an extract of Tabernanthe iboga, a perennial rain-forest plant found primarily in Gabon. In the Bwiti religion it is used in puberty initiation rites, inducing a powerful altered state for at least 48 hours during which young people are said to come into contact with a universal ancestor.

By Mr. Lotsof’s account, when he and six friends who were also addicted tried ibogaine, five of them immediately quit, saying their desire for heroin had been extinguished.
I have heard this at various times about how primitive societies with secret spiritual rites use chemicals to expand the mind. That once a certain level of understanding outside the “Me” thing, the individuals never touch the drug again. They are not addicted to substances in the Western Cultural sense that would be addictive.

There must be something missing in the equation of the spiritual formula. Western or modern society does not culturally connect the dots. Perhaps some once thought to be harmful drugs and their use as in the case of Marijuana would not be so harmful to society. Not harmful if society teaches its children up front the proper use of it. That doesn’t really work with alcohol though, does it? Some things are do doubt addictive to some and not so addictive to others.

Individuals are just that, unique from that individuality. The mindset toward Spirituality using spirits or drugs or falling on your head is not yet an exact science and probably will never likely be either.

No comments: