Questions I have spent a lifetime trying to answer
I am in the throws of choosing a topic to research for my doctorate in Psychology. i personally am interested in a number of areas. One interest regards the Oriental and Western mystical notions of elevated states of consciousness or mystical states. Such states are clearly referred to in Patanjali's Sutras and in the Cloud of Unknowing. Some Psychologists in the humanistic tradition, from William James to Maslow and more recently Robert Kegan claim that adults are capable of higher orders of consciousness. I would especially like to research the following two questions: Is there any empirical evidence for higher order consciousness besides anecdotal evidence?; is there any evidence that higher order consciousness can be taught?
Your thoughts and suggestions
First I would like to ask what your opinions are regarding my two principal questions. Have you or anyone you know exprienced higher order states or something similar. If so how did you or they do it? How doe you know that it wasn't just siggestion and wish fulfillment fantasy? I would also appreciate your comments and suggestions regarding any books, essays, journal atricles etc that you feel could help answer my 2 questions.
Seeing into our Minds
Scientists can now see into the mind and 'thoughts' of a brain-damaged man. By using new brain scanning technology they were able to determine that a patient in a vegetative state could understand and respond to their requests.
Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness
The study which, appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrates that with the help of brain scans it can be determined if someone, thought to be unaware of the external world, is aware or not. The study showed that some of those apparently in a coma, are actually awake, but without self-awareness, due to their brain damage. The above study reported that,
"One patient was able to use our technique to answer yes or no to questions during functional MRI; however, it remained impossible to establish any form of communication at the bedside."
Published at www.nejm.org February 3, 2010 (10.1056/NEJMoa0905370)
Mind in Indian Buddhist Philosophy
No other classical tradition, East or West, offers a more complex account of mental phenomena than Buddhism. Buddhists do not associate mental phenomena with the activity of a substantial, independent, and enduring self or atman. Buddhist theories of mind center on the doctrine of no-self (anatma), which claims that human beings are reducible to their physical and psychological constituents.
1500 years of analysis
Indian Buddhist analyses of the mind span a period of some fifteen centuries, from the Buddha (ca. 450 B.C.E.) to late Mahāyāna Buddhism (500–1000 C.E.). Philosophical accounts of mind emerge from the Abhidharma traditions (150 B.C.E. to 450 C.E.), while their roots are found in the Buddha's teachings of the no-self.
See things as they really are
The Buddha declared that we ought to regard any sensation or form of consciousness, “past, future, or present; internal or external; manifest or subtle...as it actually is...: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am’” (Majjhima Nikāya I, 130).
The denial of a permanent self, and the refusal to treat persons as referring to anything real or permanent, is an integral part of the Buddhist view of consciousness.
This Buddhist view is very attractive to modern Psychologists who tend to consider the Self as a construction, not an essence taht is in any way permanent.