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    Thread: Enlightenment, The Self and the Brain. Todd Murph's 3rd Lecture

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      Enlightenment, The Self and the Brain. Todd Murph's 3rd Lecture

      Enlightenment, Self and the Brain Todd Murphy’s 3rd Lecture
      (0:00:00 to 0:06:17 of Youtube 1 hour 39 minutes and 9 seconds long)
      3 Enlightenment, Self, and the Brain. How the brain changes with final liberation - YouTube
      uploaded on The Queens REAL birthday 21-April-2011
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      Transcription

      (0:20)

      This is the 3rd Lecture in The Spirituality and The Brain series and tonight there are two themes, Enlightenment and The Self. And the reason these two themes come together is that in order to understand what Enlightenment is, how it works, how it happens, you have to understand something about The Self. What is the Self that is being enlightened?

      The obvious place to begin is to ask the question, “What is Enlightenment?”

      There are two traditions that deal in Enlightenment, actually three, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The most important of these are Buddhism and Hinduism. And most of the material that I’ll be working with as far as the subject of Enlightenment is concerned comes from the Buddhist Tradition.

      (image 1)


      I am not married to any one particular Buddhist Tradition. I got my training in Buddhism in South-East Asia where it’s called Theravada Buddhism, which roughly means The Way of the Elders. I am not too well schooled in the Tibetan Buddhism and the Mahayana Traditions of China and Japan but they will have some representation tonight.

      Enlightenment is understood differently in these traditions, in Hinduism and Buddhism. But one thing that every tradition that upholds teachings about enlightenment, they all have in common, is the idea that enlightenment leads to constant unending bliss. And in neuroscience the notion of constant bliss actually has a source that we can pinpoint in the brain, (which I’ll be getting to fairly soon).

      In Hinduism
      (image 2)


      Enlightenment is called “Moksha” a word that literally means “Liberation”. And if you are enlightened in the Hindu Tradition it might mean your Self has united with god. It might mean that your True Self has been realized. It might mean that you or Your Self has been illuminated or it might mean that your Ego, (a word that has never been defined precisely enough, in spiritual traditions to satisfy me) has been destroyed.

      In Buddhism things are much simpler, clearer.

      (image 3)


      In Buddhism the Self is extinguished, (it’s put out). Literally the word Nirvana means, “to put out a light. This is the same word that is used to refer to snuffing out a candle. Which always reminds me of the line in Alice in Wonderland where Alice, (actually reflecting Lewis Carol) has experiences which he puts into her mouth as, “I seem to be going out like a candle”. And without getting into it too much I’ll say that, that would appear to be an instance where the brain’s involvement in maintaining the sense of Self is interrupted and you can actually stop existing for a few moments.

      So

      In Buddhism the Self is extinguished (0:03:33) and its illusory nature is revealed. Buddhism is very clear about, (actually it’s very vague about the Self in many regards, it takes long training in Buddhist psychology to get some of the deeper teachings) but one thing it’s clear about is that there IS NO SUCH THING AS SELF. And it has a doctrine called, “The Doctrine of No Self, (sometimes Anatar). And in that Tradition the word Anatar means “no self” (an is no, attar is self) and you have no, you have no self. For now it’s ok if you don’t grasp that because it will be clarified as we go along.

      Now

      One essential difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is how the Self changes in the process of becoming Enlightened.


      (image 4)


      And I like this illustration because what we have here is a man who’s looking at an image looking at an image of himself while creating an image of himself. And the multiple levels of perception in trying to look at the self become clear. And of course this is a painting by Norman Rockwell and I’ve always been really fond of his work.

      So

      When it comes to the neuroscience of the Self or the sense of self not too much has been known until about ten or fifteen years ago. Prior to that there were psychiatric disorders that were described as, “disturbances in the self” or disturbances in the sense of self but it didn’t really move from psychology to neuroscience until this man

      (image 5)


      brought his expertise and research tools to bear on the issue. This is Dr Michael A. Persinger an he’s director of (?) university in behavioural neural science program. He’s been my mentor since about 1995. He has over 350, peer reviewed medical and academic journal citations to his credit. He’s published more than almost anyone else alive. He’s certainly in the top 5 percent of most published scientist and everything he does almost without exception is peer reviewed.

      So

      When I bring his concepts into this I’m bringing hard science, consensual science, well-reviewed, (research that has had the opportunity to be criticised from many quarters). And after some ten or fifteen years his notions are standing up to the test.

      Infact some of you may have seen him on TV documentaries on things like Near-Death-Experiences, alien abductions and so forth. (6:17)
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    2. #2
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      (6:17 to 11:16)

      (6:17 to 11:16)

      In fact some of you may have seen him on TV documentaries on things like Near-Death-Experiences, alien abductions and so forth. (6:17)

      He developed a model of an experience that I’m sure some of you here tonight would have had. And it’s called “The Sensed Presence”. The sensed presence refers to that feeling that someone is standing behind you. Or someone or something is behind you and you turn to look and there’s no one there.

      This is different to when you’re being stared at when there is some one staring at you.

      He has put a fair amount of research into understanding this experience.

      So

      What he has been able to show us is that the self or the sense-of-self is primarily a matter of the limbic system and secondarily a matter of the cortex, (the outer-layer of the brain). And in this simple little illustration you can see a very simplified schematic of the limbic system out-lined in black.

      (image 6)


      The sense of self is primarily a limbic, a deep brain structure and a structure, a set of structures that are buried in the Temporal Lobes, the parts of the brain that are right over your ear and they come forward like a thumb-like projection sticking forward a bit. And the structures in there are extremely specialized.

      We are going to see this illustration a couple of times in the course of tonight’s presentation. And if you look, the Amygdala’s, there’s two, one on each side of the brain.

      (image 7)


      The Amygdala’s are round bits in this illustration. And the one on the left is specialized for positive emotions, (joy, bliss, elation). There have been people who have had their Amygdala’s stimulated in a method that we’ll be talking about fairly soon and it can be almost as though when the Amygdala is suddenly activated that you’ve just received good news, like something really nice has happened and you’re quite excited about it.

      The Amygdala on the right is quite the opposite. The Amygdala on the right is specialized for fear, depression, (words come up like angst, despair) a sense of impending doom. The Amygdala on the right is really a “bad boy” structure. And if you could work with your brain structures hands-on that would be the one you would want to be turning down all the time. As indeed we’ll be finding that the process of enlightenment does.

      And then moving back to the left side of the brain these kind of cylinders below our round bits.

      (image 7)


      We have two structure, the Hippocampus on the left and the one on the right.

      The one on the left deals in words and it has a fairy pessimistic outlook. Beyond that it deals with thinking. It thinks the things that we are aware of thinking, however subtly that may be. And on the left, that’s in words. So the deep brain part that handles a lot of words that have come in through your ears or that you produce for your own inner thinking involve activation of the Hippocampus on the left.

      The one on the right is a much nicer structure to work with when it’s active and that one deals in SILENT thinking. It also seems to have a fairly optimistic out-look. If something happens and the right Hippocampus is involved interpreting it, it will tend to think of it as good news. It assumes by default that what ever it is it’s going to work out well for you. It’s very optimistic, very forward looking, very positive.

      Then we have two other structures here represented by a couple of very skinny, long skinny triangles. That’s the caudate nucleus. These are fancy name for actually reasonably simple operations. The one on the right does relaxation. The one on the left does arousal, (states of arousal, having your body filled with energy) anything frm sex to that last sprint as you go to the finish line, (for those of you who are still young enough to think about racing).

      We don’t hear to much from it but it’s important to understand that the side that does happiness does arousal. And the side that does unhappyness does relaxation.

      Those of you who have had moments of depression will probably realise that when you’re depressed you tend to be lethargic. You just don’t have that much energy to get up and do things. Even if there’s something you can think of that might improve your mood, finding the motivation to get up and actually address that thing can be quite hard to do.

      Nothing beats a sofa and a television for depression. (11:11)

      We will see this diagram again so don’t worry if you haven’t absorbed it.(11:16)
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      I watched this one 2 days ago. It's extremely interesting. Truly revolutionary. I can confirm a lot of this from personal experience.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Dthoughts View Post
      I watched this one 2 days ago. It's extremely interesting. Truly revolutionary. I can confirm a lot of this from personal experience.
      Ummm Dethoughts

      There's a famous Dream Therapist named Bosnak who said in an interview on the radio that we are not a single self but a collection of dissociatve selves.

      That grabbed my attention because I am on the pension with a mental illness called Dissasosiatve Disorder, (old name was Multiple Personality). Bossnak said that everyone is a collection of dissociative selves and only if some of them loses the ability to communicate with all the others, (due to powerfull emotional trauma) do we get the mental illness once known as Multiple Personality.

      I think that explains a lot about Dreams. We get to be all of us, (express everything that we are) when we dream.
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      Quote Originally Posted by debrajane View Post
      Ummm Dethoughts

      There's a famous Dream Therapist named Bosnak who said in an interview on the radio that we are not a single self but a collection of dissociatve selves.

      That grabbed my attention because I am on the pension with a mental illness called Dissasosiatve Disorder, (old name was Multiple Personality). Bossnak said that everyone is a collection of dissociative selves and only if some of them loses the ability to communicate with all the others, (due to powerfull emotional trauma) do we get the mental illness once known as Multiple Personality.

      I think that explains a lot about Dreams. We get to be all of us, (express everything that we are) when we dream.
      Ofcourse we are. Even biologically we are the result of all the individual cells that make up our bodies. All different organisms to make up the whole. In the deep sea we have found a lot of large organisms that are made up of smaller complex organisms (larger than cells) all working together to create one entity.

      I often feel like i can really express myself in dreams and can only wish i could express myself like that in the waking state . A man can only dream i guess. Good thing we CAN just keep on dreaming,
      and then just take as much lessons as we can from that and force it into our waking state to improve ourselves and our lifes. I like Bosnak , i'm now slowly listening to one of his radio interviews. He's from the same country I am and i've already learned some things from him i didn't know. Thanks a lot for mentioning him.

      Be well, Debrajane.

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      Quote Originally Posted by debrajane View Post
      Ummm Dethoughts

      There's a famous Dream Therapist named Bosnak who said in an interview on the radio that we are not a single self but a collection of dissociatve selves.

      That grabbed my attention because I am on the pension with a mental illness called Dissasosiatve Disorder, (old name was Multiple Personality). Bossnak said that everyone is a collection of dissociative selves and only if some of them loses the ability to communicate with all the others, (due to powerfull emotional trauma) do we get the mental illness once known as Multiple Personality.

      I think that explains a lot about Dreams. We get to be all of us, (express everything that we are) when we dream.
      That is an interesting thought, thanks. *off to go read some more about it*

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      3rd post on Todd Murphy's 3rd Lecture (11:16 to 12:16)

      Thank you for your posts, Dthoughts and ShadowOfSelf, I will continue …

      Nothing beats a sofa and a television for depression. (11:11)

      We will see this diagram again so don’t worry if you haven’t absorbed it.(11:16)

      7,156 now 9,794 views
      3 Enlightenment, Self, and the Brain. How the brain changes with final liberation - YouTube
      (1:39:09)

      from (11:16 to 12:16)

      Yes, I see a question …

      Does this part of the brain have something to do with falling in love?

      Yes the caudate nucleus is instrumental in romantic love. It’s also instrumental in sexual desire but only on the left side. The experience of expansive, undirected love has also been reported with a stimulation of the left side of the brain. And from those reports the people didn’t say that they were necessarily thinking of people they loved and going into the feeling they just felt love.

      The best word for this in English actually comes from Greek and the word is agape. When Christians say they love everybody, equally, wether they experience it or not they are alluding to a state of consciousness that comes from this word, agape.

      There are many varieties of love and yet each one of them seems to implicate the left side of the brain in one way or another.
      (12:16)
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      4th post of Todd Muphy's 3rd Lecture (12:16 - 14:07)

      There are many varieties of love and yet each one of them seems to implicate the left side of the brain in one way or another.

      (12:16 to 14:07)

      So, let us return once again to the sense of self.

      (12:20)

      Here is our diagram of the limbic system once again. Again, embedded in the cortex of the brain and you will notice that the two of them are highlighted blue, the round one the Amygdala and the cylindrical one the hypocampus. And those are the most important “deep” structures for maintaining the sense of self. And the other areas surrounding it, the temporal lobes and the frontal lobes of the brain are heavely involved especially the temporal lobes.

      The frontal lobes are also involved but they’re less important.

      So primarily, the sense of self is “temporal lobes” right here, and “lymbic system” the structure that we see on the diagram.

      But let me make things more complicated for you as if it were already simple.

      You’ve got two senses of self


      (13:09)

      one on the left side of the brain and one on the right side of the brain. Ordinarily these two work together quite seamlessly but they’re not equal.

      The one on the left is the most important one. It’s what we call “the dominant one” in neuroscience and the other is “the subordinate one”.

      (13:31)

      The reason the one on the left is the dominant one is because that’s where the language centers are. And when you find the word “self” in the phrase self-esteem or you find it in sense-of-self we are talking about the same entity, the same beast, so to speak.

      (14:07)
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      5th post of Todd Murphy’s 3rd Lecture (14:07 – 16:44)

      5th post of Todd Murphy’s 3rd Lecture (14:07 – 16:44)

      14:07 to 16:44

      We maintain the world through a constant process of reconstructing it primarily through the words we use. Whether hard things are hard and soft things are soft and squares are square and circles are circles we don’t need internal dialogue to maintain. But our sense of ourselves, our thoughts about ourselves, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, are very much dependent on words, and maintaining a constant stream of words in our minds. And this tends to keep the whole process going.

      Without that process things start to fall apart quite quickly.

      And in fact shutting off the internal dialogue is one of the core processes of many spiritual disciplines and it’s function is to break down the world a bit, make our sense of ourselves a bit fuzzier so we’re not so locked-in and it allows an opportunity for other things to come through.

      Our self-esteem, and again that is the same self as in “the sense of self”, our self-esteem rises and falls according to what other people say to us.

      Someone say’s, “You’re cute” and we feel good.

      Someone say’s, “Oh, those shoes are awful” and we, it’s our shoes it’s not ourselves but still tend to be a bit crest-fallen when that happens.

      Somebody say’s, “You’re hired” and we feel great, the approval, the acceptance that goes with this.

      Someone say’s, “You’re fired” and we feel awful, the seeming rejection that comes with when your boss gives you your pink-slip and tells you, “It’s time to go”. We take these things very, very personally.

      A string of words from a teacher, “Your doing great” and we feel wonderful. Or, “You didn’t pass the test” and we feel horrible.

      Our self-esteem depends very much on the words that we have coming into our minds and the stories we tell ourselves in our minds tend to buttress our self-esteem.

      Benjamin Franklin once said that he didn’t understand this Christian thing about vanity and pride. He said that he had given himself many happy evening hours simply sitting in front of the fire and remembering all the fine and wonderful things he had done in the course of his life and how he could tell himself, “What a cool guy I am”. And he actually managed to bolster himself-up and I don’t know the details of that but I am sure that he did that in times in his life when things weren’t going so well far more than when things were going along, as he might have said, “swimmingly”.

      (16:44)
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    10. #10
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      6th post of Todd Murphys 3rd Lecture (16:44 to 19:19)

      6th post of Todd Murphys 3rd Lecture (16:44 to 19:19)

      “swimmingly”.

      (16:44)
      The linguistic sense of self takes an awful lot of doing to maintain. In order to have one that functions you have to learn language including grammar and syntax, all the connotations of the words, perhaps a sense of how they might be used poetically and so forth. There’s a great deal of brain process involved in maintaining the linguistic sense-of-self.

      So much so that some people can actually, (spiritual practitioners) can actually get the feeling that their normal ongoing sense-of-self is an obstacle or a burden.

      I’m in regular contact with a Carmelite Nun who once told me that, (and this is a contempleate-ative order, they don’t go out and help the homeless, they stay in the convent, in the hermitage, where ever they happen to be assigned by the church. They devote themselves as much as they can to keeping the “holy hours”, (???) vespers and things like that, and prayer, all day long, every hour. It’s quite an impressive thing). And she was just telling me that she had the feeling that the fact of her own individual existence was what kept her from the goal of that tradition which was called “The Union Mystica” the mystic-union or rather the Union with God.

      And the single most elegant statement of this that I have ever encountered comes from the Bengali poet and the Nobel Prize in literature winner (???).

      18:15

      DreamViewers you can go to 18:15 minutes on the YouTube yourself and listen to this

      19:11

      The self, the normal ongoing sense of self is a burden.

      Especially for those who are trying to find something richer within themselves.

      (19:19)
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    11. #11
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      the last minute is wonderful

      Got to take a music break from this heavy transcribing.

      This guy was a very ordinary Adelaidian when he won the very first Australian Idol competition. He is still a wonderful Christian guy.

      This is one of his latest hits

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz_6Y...eature=related
      Guy Sebastian - Don't Worry Be Happy
      (3:54) 716,867 views

      the last minute is wonderful

      Lyrics

      I was driving, driving, driving down the 101
      Singing 'California Dreamin' at the top of my lungs
      Unaware, not a care
      And then he appeared

      Thought he was winding down his window just to say 'hello'
      But he started cussing at me, saying I'm going to slow
      Then he yelled "Go to Hell"
      then flipped me the bird

      Is it really that bad?
      Really that bad
      I don't think it's really that bad
      Come on, get with it

      If you only think of things that you haven't got
      You could have it all and still never have enough
      So don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)

      And if you're trying to make a move
      But you're stuck in mud, under water
      And you don't know which way's up
      Yeah, don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)

      Another day, another plane, another interview
      Just trying hard to get thru my list of things to do
      What's the use, might fake the flu
      Coz I've had enough

      That's it - screw the low carbs, where's my KFC?
      Ain't gonna think about the bills or the GFC
      Life is short - live it up
      Coz we live it once

      Is it really that bad?
      Really that bad
      I don't think it's really that bad
      Come on, get with it

      If you only think of things that you haven't got
      You could have it all and still never have enough
      So don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)

      And if you're trying to make a move
      But you're stuck in mud, under water
      And you don't know which way's up
      Yeah, don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)

      Yeah life is short
      We only get to live it once
      So live and love
      And give it all you've got
      Yeah life is short
      We only live it once
      So live it up

      Yeah life is short
      We only get to live it once
      So live and love
      And give it all you've got
      Yeah life is short
      We only live it once
      So live it up

      Is it really that bad?
      Yeah I don't think it's really that bad
      If you only think of things that you haven't got
      You could have it all and still never have enough
      So don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)

      And if you're trying to make a move
      But you're stuck in mud, under water
      And you don't know which way's up
      Don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)

      So don't worry (don't worry), be happy (be happy)
      Don't worry (don't worry), be happy
      Be happy, yeah
      Don't worry, be happy, don't worry, be happy
      Be happy, yeah
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    12. #12
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      I'm seeing information here that contradicts other research as well as my own experience with tickling the amygdalae. It did not appear as though one was meant for joy, and the other pain. It appeared as though both were capable of both sensations but either one could be clicked backward or forward, either into the reptilian, selfish complex or the frontal lobes in order to access higher intelligence.

      It also appears contradictory to my understanding of the left and right brains, as the left brain is coordinated with the past/future, categorization, words and rational thought while the right brain deals with present moment and the gestalt.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 02-04-2012 at 12:15 PM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    13. #13
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      Tickling the Amygdalae

      Yes Omnis Dei

      I have an early Lucidology 101 where Nick Newport tells of how in one Lucid Dream he saw a brain part and pushed it forward. Instantly Nick was gripped by very powerful terror. He did some research and figured that he had accidentally tickled his amygdalae. He did it again and again in other Lucid Dreams and found that if he imagined pushing that brain part forward he got deep peace but when he pushed it backwards he got almost unbearable body terror.

      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      I'm seeing information here that contradicts other research as well as my own experience with tickling the amygdalae. It did not appear as though one was meant for joy, and the other pain. It appeared as though both were capable of both sensations but either one could be clicked backward or forward, either into the reptilian, selfish complex or the frontal lobes in order to access higher intelligence.

      It also appears contradictory to my understanding of the left and right brains, as the left brain is coordinated with the past/future, categorization, words and rational thought while the right brain deals with present moment and the gestalt.
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    14. #14
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      That does not solve the discrepancies between this lecture's brain anatomy and that of the research from TDA Lingo and Laughing Coyote Mountain.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    15. #15
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      7th post of Todd Murphys 3rd Lecture (19:19 to 22:33)

      The self, the normal ongoing sense of self is a burden.

      Especially for those who are trying to find something richer within themselves.

      (19:19)

      So, back to the sense-of-self. That’s a high point to step down from but the sentiment is awe inspiring and really does orient us at what we want to be thinking about here.

      Now ordinarily the two senses of self, the silent one on the right hemisphere and the talking one on the left are seamlessly integrated. The sense-of-self on the left downloads, takes contributions from the one on the right constantly. It takes in.


      (19:46)

      Whereas the one on the right deals with denotations of words, what words mean. The one on the right deals with connotations. It deals in esthetics, all kinds of relevant non-verbal information as well as the impact of things like poetry or the difference in a single sentence spoken by a small child where it seems terrible cute than spoken by an adult where it can actually become imposing.

      This is where the right linguistic sense of self is reaching over to the other and getting some extra contribution to it so that the meaning, and the feeling and the sense of the words can be changed.

      The left handles the meaning of words, the right handles the sense of words and in most of our conversation there is always a sense of our words that goes a little bit beyond dictionary definitions for them.

      The left denotes the right connotes.

      Now sometimes the communication and the connection between the two senses-of-self can brake down. And there’s a few ways that this can happen. One side of the brain can be compromised in some way while the other remains normal. It’s like the two sides are interlocked and once in a while they can sort-of fall out of phase and connect together in unusual ways.

      When this happens the subordinate sense-of-self is projected out-side of our selves where we experience it as an outer presence.




      Or, in the technical language of the scientific literature on the subject, an ego alien entity.

      An entity that is somehow external or alien to your self, your “I” in the original sense of the word ego.

      (21:33)

      And the “sensed presence” parenthetically, because we’re not going to be following to far with this in tonight’s talk, is a mild example of a visitor experience.

      (21:44)

      And when you start taking more intense examples of the visitor experience you get actual, you don’t just sense the presence, it actually manifests into something more. You hear words from it. You can actually see it visually. And it might appear, according to the research on the subject as an alien, as a demon, an angel, some satanic creature, invisible friends in childhood, monsters in the closet.

      And at its very peek, God.

      And for those of you here for the first talk you will remember that visions of God have been produced in the laboratory using the technology that has produced so many sensed presence experiences.

      (0:22:33)
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    16. #16
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      (43:30) "The sense of self is an hallucination"

      (43:30) "The sense of self is an hallucination"
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