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HMH Books
Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality

Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality

by John HorganJohn Horgan
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John Horgan, author of the best-selling The End of Science, chronicles the most advanced research into the mechanics—and meaning—of mystical experiences. How do trances, visions, prayer, satori, and other mystical experiences “work”? What induces and defines them? Is there a scientific explanation for religious mysteries and transcendent meditation? John Horgan investigates a wide range of fields — chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, theology, and more — to narrow the gap between reason and mystical phenomena. As both a seeker and an award-winning journalist, Horgan consulted a wide range of experts, including theologian Huston Smith, spiritual heir to Joseph Campbell; Andrew Newberg, the scientist whose quest for the “God module” was the focus of a Newsweek cover story; Ken Wilber, prominent transpersonal psychologist; Alexander Shulgin, legendary psychedelic drug chemist; and Susan Blackmore, Oxford-educated psychologist, parapsychology debunker, and Zen practitioner. Horgan explores the striking similarities between “mystical technologies” like sensory deprivation, prayer, fasting, trance, dancing, meditation, and drug trips. He participates in experiments that seek the neurological underpinnings of mystical experiences. And, finally, he recounts his own search for enlightenment — adventurous, poignant, and sometimes surprisingly comic. Horgan’s conclusions resonate with the controversial climax of The End of Science, because, as he argues, the most enlightened mystics and the most enlightened scientists end up in the same place — confronting the imponderable depth of the universe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618446636
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 12/08/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

John Horgan, a former senior writer for Scientific American, is the author of the acclaimed End of Science and Undiscovered Mind. His articles have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Science Magazine, and a wide range of other publications. His work has won awards from the American Psychia-tric Association and the National Association of Science Writers, among others. With both a B.A. and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, Horgan has lectured at McGill University. He lives in New York State with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents

Contents Introduction: Lena’s Feather 1 1 Huston Smith’s Perennial Philosophy 15 2 Attack of the Postmodernists 36 3 The Weightlifting Bodhisattva 55 4 Can Neurotheology Save Us? 73 5 The God Machine 91 6 The Sheep Who Became a Goat 106 7 Zen and James Austin’s Brain 124 8 In the Birthplace of LSD 141 9 God’s Psychoanalyst 160 10 The Man in the Purple Sparkly Suit 177 11 Ayahuasca 195 12 The Awe-ful Truth 214 Epilogue: Winter Solstice 234 Acknowledgments 239 Notes 241 Selected Bibliography 269 Index 273

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