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    Thread: The birth of religion through altered states of consciousness

    1. #1
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      The birth of religion through altered states of consciousness

      First of all, I would just like to say I put this topic in the Science forum rather than the Religion forum because whilst it addresses Religion, it is from a scientific viewpoint. If this is unacceptable for whatever reason, please move the topic. I do believe it belongs here though.

      During a lucid dream last night I remembered an interview I watched a few nights earlier with Robert Waggoner on Conscious TV (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf0g1YZa8co), and he said that he had started to address questions to the awareness behind the dream rather than the objects in the dream with interesting results of an inner voice responding, "an awareness within an awareness", and so I stopped and asked out loud during my lucid dream "What is the meaning of this?". When I asked the question I didn't really think about what "this" was, or what exactly I was asking about, and as soon as I asked that question it felt like something heavy had hit me in the back of the head only there was no pain, just a white flash that persisted for a few seconds, a faint dizzy feeling and a white noise ringing sound. Then I lost conscious thought and continued to just dream as normal.

      --

      Trippy stuff for me, I'm fairly new to this whole lucid dreaming experience and for a long time I was extremely sceptical of it. The great subconscious voice I was hoping to hear when I asked "What is the meaning of this?" is interesting. Robert and several of his friends have experienced this voice, I'm sure some of you guys here on this forum have had experiences with this awareness behind the dream too and if you have I'd love to hear about those experiences here.

      But now my point... and forgive me if this isn't a new idea (any further reading would be appreciated)

      It got me thinking, is this voice a manifestation of our knowledge of religion learned in the waking world which is then used as a vehicle for this subconscious voice awareness behind the dream, since gods are often referred to as great ominous entities in the sky who talk with a mighty voice to those below from a presence that is seemingly everywhere, or...

      Do you think that even without any ideas about religion this great subconscious voice would still be there? I believe this is true. Maybe lucid dreaming or altered states of consciousness are responsible for the birth of religion, or at least the original ideas of a powerful ominous entity. Who knows what crazy altered states of consciousness prehistoric men must have experienced given their lack of understanding, their environments and diet etc. People who are in their own thoughts a lot during waking life who talk to themselves and ask questions inside their own mind are kind of corresponding with an ominous presence that doesn't seemingly physically exist anywhere, so for that experience to be projected in a conscious lucid dream or other altered state of consciousness, that could definitely be a starting point for what is now referred to as "god".

      Thoughts?

      Again, further reading would be appreciated.

      sky.jpg
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    2. #2
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      For a moment there I thought this post was going to be based on Terence McKenna's "stoned ape" theory, heh. Interesting theory to be sure, but one I don't subscribe to personally, but I digress.

      First off, I'm by no means an expert in this area, merely a curious individual, so excuse my layman's understanding & lingo. Anywho, I think this deeper awareness you speak of is essentially the subconscious mind, if I understand you correctly. If anything, it seems like this ephemeral voice would be the cause rather than effect of religion, if the two are indeed related. A human with no concept of religion would surely have a subconscious, after all. But with no personal experience in religion of any kind, it's hard for me to say, so I'll move on.

      I read a book on the inner workings of the mind awhile back (can't remember the name, sorry; it was some random book my local library offers in their iPhone app) and this guy explained how consciousness as we perceive it is merely the metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg' of the human mind. He likened it to scanning the headlines of a newspaper while ignoring the vast amount of detail that makes up the actual story - to put it simply, anyways.

      As for the origin of the concept of God/s: hell, let me know if you find out. Lol. Thanks for the food for thought!
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      First of all - congratulation on having begun your LDing journey, LucidJordan!
      I didn't watch the Waggoner video under the impression, that I am bound to disagree with his esoteric world-view at some point.

      Quote Originally Posted by LucidJordan
      But now my point...

      It got me thinking, is this voice a manifestation of our knowledge of religion learned in the waking world which is then used as a vehicle for this subconscious voice awareness behind the dream, since gods are often referred to as great ominous entities in the sky who talk with a mighty voice to those below from a presence that is seemingly everywhere, or...

      Do you think that even without any ideas about religion this great subconscious voice would still be there?
      If I understand you correctly - you want to know, if it is a typical method of the unconscious ("sub" could suggest, that I subscribe to Freud), to express itself as a booming voice from the heavens/everywhere or some such?
      And that would then have found entry in the specifics of mythology?
      No - don't think so.
      Look at this thread:
      http://www.dreamviews.com/general-lu...ious-ever.html
      I think, the OP of that thread has been proven wrong - but with people, who manage to accomplish verbal discourse "with themselves" - it comes in different flavours. Talking with DCs for a simple example.

      If Waggoner describes it such - seems likely, that he draws on unconsciously rooted schemata, which he got from religion.
      But of course it could be, that certain maybe typical experiences in dreams and lucid dreams have contributed to the elaboration of religious myths.
      Booming voices, anybody??


      Quote Originally Posted by blahaha
      For a moment there I thought this post was going to be based on Terence McKenna's "stoned ape" theory, heh. Interesting theory to be sure, but one I don't subscribe to personally, but I digress.
      I am not acquainted with the late McKenna's theory but there are hypotheses on the influence of psychedelic plants on certain aspects of religion by realistic scholars as well - taking that leap to try and explain everything from there rather not, though.
      You need not look further than to Dionysus, to see relevance.
      There are hypotheses, that the persistence of genes, which lead to mental conditions with hallucinations and delusions might play a role as well - mad priests and prophets for the common good or some such. No idea about validity.

      I had to think of a popular, wonky theory of the "bicameral mind" - and came across a wonderful - giving credit, where due - analysis and criticism:
      All Mixed Up: Julian Jaynes | Genealogy of Religion

      On a site, which belongs to a scholar, who deals with other scholar's theories on the origins of religion:
      Explanatory Theories of Religion | Genealogy of Religion

      Explanatory Theories of Religion
      After spending several years doing research for a book tentatively titled Evolutionary Theories of Religion: A Guide for the Perplexed, I came to the conclusion that while there were many good evolutionary theories of religion, there was no “master” theory. When the project began, my goal was to identify the best theories and synthesize them into a singular, comprehensive theory that provided the best possible scientific answer to an apparently simple question: How did “religion” evolve?
      At the bottom are links to a lot of hypotheses - from pre-evolutionary, even antique - to sociocultural or otherwise evolutionary ones - but nothing really recently - maybe interesting reads among them..

      Some more clicks - one W. H. Clark (theologian?) being of the opinion, that psychedelic drugs are of inherently religious character:

      I defined religion as "the inner experience of an individual when he senses a Beyond, especially as evidenced by the effect of this experience on his behavior when he actively attempts to harmonize his behavior with the Beyond."
      Consequently, it would be to this standard that I would refer experiences triggered by the psychedelic drugs, in order to determine whether they should be called religious or not. (he concludes, they should)
      Having a mystical experience and then improving in some way - directly personally - supposedly religion is a positive phenomenon, because it tends to cultivate such experiences.
      Well yeah - nice - and I don't say that often on religion - but not needed for a faith-free spirituality, religion is, I find.

    4. #4
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      I liked the theory put forth in Story of B, which separates the roots of animism from farming religions. Animism was less "religion" and more perspective, seeing the world as animated. Superstition has caused us to categorize this early perspective as a religion but they were basically gambling with their lives regarding decisions such as migrating to a new location. To make these gambles, they depended on the same tactic gamblers today depend on, superstition. There is a human element that finds comfort in certainty, so they wanted to feel as though life was directing them along a certain path. Today a gambler will follow rules at a roulette table that defy basic probability and assume some sort of life-force tips the odds a certain direction, and likewise the multitude of early practices by hunter gatherers followed the same pattern. Evidently, several societies used psychedelics but I believe the need for certainty motivated early superstition. It allows people to faithfully make their decisions so halfway through a migration or something, they won't second guess what they chose. It allows them to go all or nothing, which was necessary for their world. Psychedelics enable you to see connections in all things, so you can see a shape in a flock of birds or a pile of bones that you wouldn't notice in a regular state of mind. You can more easily notice the signs and get on the path. Other shaman, without psychedelics, practice entering a state of mind called gnosis, where they find single-pointed awareness. They will, for example, become an animal, so that their entire mind is concentrated on being that animal, and thus they remove themselves from the possibility to create doubt.

      Farming religions, on the other hand, grew pervasive as farming itself grew pervasive and could also be called the earliest forms of conquering religions. Before farming, people did not conquer each other because their populations were small enough that whatever food was around was typically in abundance. They could remain balanced with their carrying capacity, but totalitarian farming changed all that. While it may be difficult to pinpoint a single root cause for all pre-farming forms of religion, there is only one cause for farming religions, it's one of the pillars of a conquering society. Religion needed to change so that your group was right and all other groups were wrong. And being wrong needed consequences so that the people were motivated to forcefully save other people. This gave people with healthy empathy levels the capacity to brutally conquer or destroy their neighbors so that the land could be seized and cultivated and the farmers could support an even larger population. This is where the beliefs come into play that press our modern era to regard religion as an evil.
      Last edited by Original Poster; 04-04-2014 at 02:35 AM.
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      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    5. #5
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      Good thoughts, Original Poster!
      Another thing - we humans come to the world utterly helpless and depend on our parents and in extension elders to tell us what and what not to do.
      And this authority better not be questioned by toddlers to older children as well - otherwise death awaits the "rebels" through the countless dangers in nature.
      Maybe this pattern plays into how easy it is for a ruling class - incl. priests - to go about manipulating whole tribes - and to put something up like a father-god, whom it is natural to obey absolutely?

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