NCBI ROFL: Moses on the mount: holy revelation or altitude sickness?

By ncbi rofl | April 5, 2012 7:00 pm

Why revelations have occurred on mountains? Linking mystical experiences and cognitive neuroscience.

“The fundamental revelations to the founders of the three monotheistic religions, among many other revelation experiences, had occurred on a mountain. These three revelation experiences share many phenomenological components like feeling and hearing a presence, seeing a figure, seeing lights, and feeling of fear. In addition, similar experiences have been reported by non-mystic contemporary mountaineers. The similarities between these revelations on mountains and their appearance in contemporary mountaineers suggest that exposure to altitude might affect functional and neural mechanisms, thus facilitating the experience of a revelation. Different functions relying on brain areas such as the temporo-parietal junction and the prefrontal cortex have been suggested to be altered in altitude. Moreover, acute and chronic hypoxia significantly affect the temporo-parietal junction and the prefrontal cortex and both areas have also been linked to altered own body perceptions and mystical experiences. Prolonged stay at high altitudes, especially in social deprivation, may also lead to prefrontal lobe dysfunctions such as low resistance to stress and loss of inhibition. Based on these phenomenological, functional, and neural findings we suggest that exposure to altitudes might contribute to the induction of revelation experiences and might further our understanding of the mountain metaphor in religion. Mystical and religious experiences are important not only to the mystic himself, but also to many followers, as it was indeed with respect to the leaders of the three monotheistic religions. Yet, concerning its subjective character, mystical experiences are almost never accessible to the scholars interested in examining them. The tools of cognitive neuroscience make it possible to approach religious and mystical experiences not only by the semantical analysis of texts, but also by approaching similar experiences in healthy subjects during prolonged stays at high altitude and/or in cognitive paradigms. Cognitive neurosciences, in turn, might profit from the research of mysticism in their endeavor to further our understanding of mechanisms of corporeal awareness and self consciousness.”

Photo: flickr/Horia Varlan

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  • http://www.equalsouls.org/ Isadas

    THE FOURTH MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION
    by BV Bhagavat Maharaja & Isa das
    http://www.equalsouls.org

    Which religion is that? You may ask, and rightly so. Most academic and news articles usually talk about the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even though these three religions share a common theological precept that there is one GOD ([1]El Kana) and no other, they are anything but unified in describing the path that the devotee must take to reach that one and only GOD.

    Today we have attempts by all three religions to create interfaith harmony through theological fiats at ecumenical conferences that draw people’s attention to the things that unify these three religions as opposed to their differences. 

    Hinduism (Vedic Religion, Sanatan Dharma) would like to join this dialog and be recognized as Monotheistic. 

    Hinduism (Vedic Religion Sanatan Dharma) appears to be a polytheistic theological conception where a pantheon of deities ([3]Angels) are worshiped, it is actually a systematic process of elevating each individual soul over one birth or millions ([4]Transmigration; Jewish) to greater and greater levels of faith in the divine existence of the one original and infallible GOD ([1]Kana). 

    In the Bhagavad Gita which is the book that many consider the Bible of the Vedic Religion, Lord Sri Krishna (Kana) who is understood to be GOD ([5]Allah), The Supreme Personality of Godhead explains.

    “After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” BG 7:19

    “I am in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul ([6]Lord in the heart; Jewish). As soon as one desires to worship the demigods ([3]Angels), I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.” BG 7:21

    “Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.” BG 7:22

    In these verses Lord Sri Krishna explains how the worship of the Demigods in the pantheon is for less intelligent persons who want the temporary material pleasures of the world and not the eternal spiritual pleasures of eternal spiritual life on HIS Spiritual Planet ([7]The Garden Of Eden). Furthermore HE explains that it is actually HE who provides such temporary material benefits by empowering the Demigods to provide them. Hence directly or indirectly all Human beings are worshiping that one Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    There are many other evidences in the Vedic Scriptures of Lord Sri Krishna’s position as the original Supreme Personality of Godhead , and as the source of, even Mahavishnu ([8]Metatron), Brahma ([9]Abraham), and Siva ([10]Shiva;Judaism) what to speak of lesser demigods like Indra, Ganesha, and Durga ([11]Jewish)

    We find in the Vedas this definition of God all religions can agree on.
    The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
    Sri Isopanisad Verse One

    The point of this brief monograph is to give the reader an insight into the real nature of the Vedic Religion which in reality is monotheistic as opposed to polytheistic. The so called display of polytheism is only a device to appeal to the widest array of souls having a human experience.
    God is always inviting us “Back home back to Godhead”

    …………………………………………………….

    [1] The most holy of all names of God for a Jew is KNA or KANA, Rabbi’s have slapped my face when I have said this name out loud.

    This is considered to be the most intimate name for God in the Old Testament. Where it is translated, “I am a jealous God, have no other gods before you”, the literal Hebrew translation is, “My name is EL KNA, have no other gods before you.”

    [2]From a Vedic (Hindu) view point, Kana is also an affectionate name of Krishna, The pronunciation used above “KRE ShTN” is very similar to the way south Indians pronounce Krishna.

    [3]DEMIGODS AND ANGELS have the same function in both traditions.

    a. The Midrash teaches, “There is no blade of grass that does not have a constellation (Mazal) over it, telling it to grow.” [Sefer Yetzirah 4.6]

    “As commentaries explain, ‘God’s providence works through the angels, but the angels, in turn, work through the stars and planets. As some authorities put it,the angels are, in a sense, like souls to the stars. Thus, for example, some sources speak of the stars as having intelligence, but the commentaries note that this is actually speaking of the angels that are associated with them.'” [Sefer Yetrzirah 4.6]

    b. The Vedic conception is that there are many specially empowered demigods who help manage the affairs of the universe including the planets of our solar system.

    The controlling demigods, although not eternal themselves, function within various posts that exist as long as the universe exists.

    [4]Although the majority of sects within Judaism, Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Kabbalah, the Cathars, theAlawi, the Druze[3] and the Rosicrucians.[4] The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of the Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism and Gnosticism of the Roman era, as well as the Indian religions, is unclear.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmigration_of_the_soul

    [5]In the “Old Testament” the 5 books of Moses, God explains that He is the beginning to the end. This same idea is expressed in the New Testament. Revelation 22:13, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. ThisEnglish usage of Alpha is based on the Hebrew Alef. Also in the Hindu (Vedic) scripture, Bagavad Gita, Krishna says “of letters I am A.”

    [6]When the soul is about to descend to this world, it first goes down to the terrestrial Garden of Eden and sees there the glory of the souls of the righteous, and then goes down to Gehinnom and sees the wicked who cry “Woe, woe”, and find no compassion. That holy form (God) stands by him until he emerges into the world, after which it keeps him company and grows up with him.” [The Zohar 43b] [KI TAZRIA (LEVITICUS)]

    [7]Apiryon symbolizes the Palace below which is formed in the likeness of the Palace above. This the Holy one, blessed be He, calls ‘The Garden of Eden,’ for He created it in order to satisfy His own ardent desire for joyous and continual communion with the souls of the righteous who have their abode there-these being those souls who have no bodies in this world. These all ascend and are crowned in that place of perfect delight, and have each their appointed places from whence they can perceive the “loveliness of the Lord”, and partake of all the delicious streams of pure balsam (aparsamon). This aparsamon symbolizes the hidden Supernal Palace, whereas apiryon is the Palace below.” [Zohar 127a Terumah (Exodus)] In other words, there is a Garden of Eden in the eternal spiritual kingdom of God, and there is also a manifestation of the Garden of Eden that exists within the material world.

    [8]Metatron in Origins of the Kabbalah where it is said, “Metatron is therefore not a proper name at all but a designation for the whole category of celestial powers performing a mission.”[Origins of the Kabbalah, III, 6] 

    Regarding the revolving sword or flaming sword that revolves, it is said “the manner in which the sword rotates depends on the readiness of the individual attempting to enter. If he is worthy, it becomes the mirror through which he perceives, while if he is not worthy, he is burned out and cut off by the fire of this sword. The one who oversees the sword, preventing the unworthy from entering, is the angel Metatron.” [Meditation and Kabbalah p 80 Chapter 4, Teachings of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia] 

    [9]Brahmä is said to have four heads. There is an obscure reference to a four-headed angel in the Talmud. It is said, “Angels are supposed to have no back and four faces, so always to be able to behold God.”[Talmud, cf. Ezek i. 6] Also, many rabbis say that an ancient Abraham, with secondary creative power like Brahma is being referred to when speaking of Brahma.

    There is a description of how the universe was in chaos until Abraham appeared. It is said, “Over the whole, there hovered Tohu (chaos) and as long as Tohu dominated, the whole world was not in being or existence. When did that key open the gates and make the world fruitful? It was when Abraham appeared.” [Genesis II 4]

    [10]Shiva (Judaism)

    Among Sephardic Jews believe that every beracha (blessing) said elevates the neshama, (soul) of the deceased. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitting_shiva

    [11]”He summoned to issue from the side of Darkness a kind of female moon, which rules over the night, and is associated with Adonai, the Lord of all the earth. In his days, the moon was magnified and reached her fullness. A thousand mountains rose before her, and she blew them away with a puff. A thousand mighty rivers flowed before her, and she swallowed them at a draught. Her nails reached out in a thousand and seventy directions and her hands in twenty-four thousand, so that nothing could escape her. Thousands of bucklers clung to her hair. From between her feet went forth a youth who stretched from one end of the world to the other with sixty clubs of fire…” [Zohar]

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OIETDA6TEJLP4DESVGEZTOIULU Mike The Tiger

    What dupe wrote this article?  Anyone who has actually studied the topography of the Holy Land knows that Mt. Sinai and other so called Mountains mentioned in the Bible are not anywhere near the altitudes needed to cause altitude sickness.  The whole premise of this article is based on a falsehood.  Ignorance is no excuse for poor research.  Both are evident in this article.

  • jhertzli

    The authors are Swiss. Does hypoxia explain why they came up with such a weird theory?

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

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