Is realisation a chemical reaction?
5 Mar 2009, 0000 hrs IST, DEEPAK RANADE
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The thought process is a continuous activity. The development of specific neuronal networks may be responsible for the conditioning that occurs.
George Gurdjieff used to say that character is like a buffer. (Getty Images)
, behavioural traits and even temperament are all effects of conditioning.
There has also been speculation of whether there exists in the brain a God centre. A researcher revealed that when a person was subjected to pain stimulus before and after being shown the picture of a deity he had faith in, his tolerance to pain was significantly better than it was before seeing the picture. So was the increase in tolerance the result of conditioning?
Such a premise would imply that a similar outcome were possible if the patient was shown the picture of a mountain, if he had been conditioned to believe that mountains are objects of devotion. Does it mean that whichever deity one believes in, the final locus of God in the brain remains the same?
Then theoretically, if this God centre were to be stimulated, one could experience calm, bliss, even ecstasy. Would this imply that all spiritually advanced souls have, over a period of time, been able to devise an intrinsic mechanism to stimulate the God centre?
Are all spiritually advanced masters just those who, by repeated practice, develop the God centre further so that it can be stimulated at will? That would reduce realisation to a mere neurochemical phenomenon. It would then have some tangible parameters for either localisation or verification.
Meditation could be just a process that converts all eccentric thought processes into a concentric pattern with the God centre as the epicentre. All thoughts pertaining to mundane activities may be eccentric in nature. These eccentric patterns would be a deterrent to stimulating the God centre. Most explanations given by realised masters seem to defy all logic, which is the domain of the dominant hemisphere. The non-dominant hemisphere is concerned with intuitive and non-analytical networks.
So maybe, the God centre resides in the non-dominant hemisphere and realisation could effect a state of awareness that transcends the baseline neuronal activity of just being conscious. The advent of functional imaging techniques like the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may assist in the verification of such hypotheses. Probably, realisation could then be imaged and anatomically localised.
Happiness is most often cause-based, a consequence of perceptive modalities giving a positive feedback via established neuronal circuits. Familiarity, sensory gratification, and above all a very tangible cause-effect relationship permeates this sense of joy. But, if happiness could be devoid of a cause, it may explain the detachment that most masters talk about.
Happiness would then be independent of a cause and also stimulation of specific neural paths. It could become the background electrochemical activity, where any external object is not recognised as a separate entity and analysed and assigned relative values of joy or pain.
This Advaita or Oneness could be identified as the baseline firing of zeta neurons in a specified locus in the non-dominant hemisphere. It would create a perception shift. It could also deconstruct the "i" entity as having a discrete identity; the equivalent of dissolution of ego.
There would be no subjective element to any sensory stimulus. Which is why many masters seem to revert to a child-like innocence. Maybe, then godhood would be a neurochemical alteration in the milieu of the neuronal networks
, resulting in a perceptive variance. And spiritual progress could be monitored by an imaging modality.
The writer is a consultant neurosurgeon and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org