Posts in Spirituality
New book on ecstatic experience (not by me)

There's a new book out later this month on the psychology of ecstatic experiences, and why they're good for us. It's called Stealing Fire, by two performance coaches, Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal. It might be disconcerting to have another book on ecstasy published two months before my own, but actually I'm glad others are walking the same path and coming to similar conclusions.

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Do ecstatic experiences tell us anything reliable about the universe?

There is a growing consensus among secular psychologists that experiences of ecstasy and ego-transcendence are good for us, and tell us interesting things about the nature of the mind. But do they tell us anything interesting or reliable about the nature of the universe? I'm trying to figure this out. Here are my thoughts so far - please respond in the comments.

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Review: Cure, by Jo Marchant

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body, is an excellent new book by science journalist Jo Marchant, which explores the healing (and harming) power of the mind and emotions over the body. It succintly brings together a lot of recent evidence in areas sometimes dismissed as 'pseudoscience', such as the placebo response and hypnotherapy, to argue for their medical efficacy and the need for a medical model which better incoporates the mind.

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The rise and rise of contemplative studies

This weekend, I was at a conference in Boston called the International Symposium on Contemplative Studies. I know  - sounds pretty niche, maybe two monks, a chakra healer and a shaman with maracas?  Well, it was enormous - 1600 people, 300 presentations, including ones by some of the leading psychologists in the world, and the Dalai Lama.

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What's wrong with the Perennial Philosophy?

In my review of Sam Harris’ Waking Up two weeks ago, I wrote this sentence: "Spiritual experiences tell us something about the cosmos,...the experience of infinite loving-consciousness is a glimpse of the very ground of being, also sometimes called God, Brahman, Allah, the Logos, the Tao, the Buddha-realm."

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Crowley's Children

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog-post analysing the video for Blondie’s Rapture, and pointing out the voodoo, occult and mystic symbolism in it. I wondered if Blondie were into that sort of thing, or perhaps I was seeing things. It turned out they were, and one of them - the bassist Gary Lachman - had even become a historian of the occult. He was kind enough to give me his time for an interview.

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