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by John Horgan

Download Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality fb2, epub

ISBN: 0618060278
Author: John Horgan
Language: English
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (January 1, 2003)
Pages: 292
Category: New Age & Spirituality
Subcategory: Religion
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 956
Size Fb2: 1766 kb
Size ePub: 1433 kb
Size Djvu: 1716 kb
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John Horgan, a former senior writer for Scientific American, is the author of the acclaimed End of Science and Undiscovered Mind.

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. in journalism from Columbia University, Horgan has lectured at McGill University. He lives in New York State with his wife and two children

John Horgan (born 1953) is an American science journalist best known for his 1996 book The End of Science. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

John Horgan (born 1953) is an American science journalist best known for his 1996 book The End of Science. He has written for many publications, including National Geographic, Scientific American, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and IEEE Spectrum. His awards include two Science Journalism Awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Science Writers Science-in-Society Award.

John Horgan - Rational Mysticism . John Horgan investigates a wide range of fields - chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, theology, and more - to narrow the gap between reason and mystical phenomena.

John Horgan investigates a wide range of fields - chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, theology, and more - to narrow the gap between reason and mystical phenomena.

Rational Mysticism book.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003. Although only a quarter of the sample reported "spiritual" motives for using psychedelics, use of LSD and psilocybin was significantly positively related to scores on two well-known indices of mystical experiences in a dose-related manner, whereas use of MDMA, cannabis, cocaine, opiates and alcohol was not.

His work has won awards from the American Psychia-tric Association and the National Association of Science Writers, among others. He lives in New York State with his wife and two children.

Enter John Horgan’s Rational Mysticism, a journalistic exploration of edgy mind science that may be, because of its mainstream profile, one of the most important books on psychedelics published in years. A longtime Scientific American contributor, Horgan hit pay-dirt with 1996’s The End of Science, which proclaimed the heretical idea that science was finally winding down, having nearly reached the end of its grand goal of explaining nature.

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.

Comments:

Nirad
Despite the title of this book, there is no such thing as rational mysticism. This book is really a critical discussion of mystical experiences: how they happen, what they are like, what they mean, and their effects on people who experience them. Each chapter focuses on a particular philosopher, scientist, psychologist or guru who has experience with and strong opinions about mysticism. The author describes their ideas and then discusses them critically, considering their logic or illogic and relevant evidence. It is clear that—contrary to some claims—not all mystical experiences are essentially alike. While most are positive, some are negative. Do mystical experiences reveal profound knowledge? Different mystics have come to different conclusions on fundamental questions such as: What is the nature of God? Why does God allow evil? Why are we here? Why is there anything, instead of nothing? What is enlightenment? What is the significance of the mystical “oneness” experience? Is escaping from the “self” really a good thing? Some chapters are about mystical experiences generated by drugs. Are they legitimate mystical experiences, or are they merely the bizarre consequences of abnormal brain activity? Or does it make any difference? Horgan rightly takes a critical, skeptical view of many of the claims for the benefits of mystical practices and experiences, but he does not deny that for some people they are meaningful and valuable and life-changing.
Dyni
An excellent survey of an unwieldy topic. Well written and relatable. I think he got the point in the end, but somehow seems to have missed that what he thought was a rejection of mysticism was actually an embrace of mysticism. He ends by embracing the here and now of life lived, and rejecting the notion of some ethereal transcendent unity. But they are not opposed. In Zen, they sometimes say "samsara is nirvana." That is, enlightenment is not different than the mundane of daily life. In fact, the mundane of daily life is the essence of enlightenment. "Savor the unflavored" as one translation of the Tao Te Ching puts it. All that said, the book itself was nicely written and an easy, pretty light read that gives a nice top-level survey of some ideas and perspectives related to mysticism without being either overly skeptical or enthusuastic.
Murn
I liked this book. What I really appreciated were the series of perspectives offered by the various interviewees. As a serious mystic myself (more than thirty years of study, practice and living), I'm always interested in hearing about people's practices, lifestyles, and views on their spiritual journeys. I thought Horgan asked a lot of intelligent questions and that his search for expanding and deepening his understanding of mysticism was genuine. Like other reviewers, I found the book very readable.

What I thought was its greatest weakness was a tendency toward narrow-minded intellectualism. I was drawn to this book because as a mystic I feel strongly that my practice and outlook should be grounded in disciplined rationality and critical analysis. The way I put it is that I believe that every mystic can benefit from having a well-calibrated bulls***detector. But for me, rationality is just a starting point. When it comes to mysticism, there are deeper ways to explore reality.These involve using faculties that can be cultivated through practice. The author seemed to be limited in his understanding by a lack of years of serious mystical practice himself. His analysis is often a bit glib and shallow at places. He seemed most interested in finding quick answers and some kind of a short cut--some "mystical technology"--that would take him to deep truths. He tended to intellectualize aspects of mysticism that are much more subtle and nuanced.

I am a great believer that science and mysticism should be friends. Neither should set themselves up as a final arbiter of truth, but instead should carry on an ongoing conversation characterized by mutual respect and keeping each other honest. For example, not being a scientist myself I try to be respectful of the limitations of my knowledge. Being a big fan I read a lot of science books, yet I know that while I can follow many of the conceptual distillations science writers provide, I don't speak the native language--i.e advanced mathematics--that would allow me to really understand and carry on analysis myself. A lot of smart people like Horgan tend to believe because they understand English they understand fully what mystics are saying. To his credit he did ask a lot of questions, but a lot of times his questions were reductive or he seemed have his thumb on the scale on the side of science as the final arbiter. His concepts of "enlightenment" and "attainment" are good examples. The kind of "attaining" he wrote about implied an ego-driven pursuit and his notion of "enlightenment" seemed to be the spiritual equivalent of winning the Mega Millions. In the end many of his critiques ended up being critiques of his own limited conceptions.

Still, the interviews are really interesting, and many of his reflections are deeply thoughtful, heartfelt and meaningful. He raises a lot of good questions and makes many valid critiques. As I said, I liked this book.
Shadowbourne
I stumbled upon this book in the Library years ago. I think back on my studies on religion and Mysticism and I have to admit it all started for me with this book. It reads like a long magazine article, a sort of journalistic inquiry piece; its up front with that tone and perspective. The other reviews seem to criticize this book for not being objective, those criticisms are misguided, this book is not an Encyclopedia on the topic, it is a very personal and honest inquiry into the subject of Mysticism. I felt the author did a good job at showing you his thoughts and expressing his doubts when he felt them. His hesitations about Ken Wilber I also felt when I followed up this book with some of Wilber's writings.
I still find myself going back to this book to see where I need to follow up with more readings on the subjects and authors that are covered here.
I recommend it to anyone at any level.
AGAD
Not finished but I'm enjoying the read. I am a student of mysticism since the 70s and I hold a BA in philosophy, an MTS degree in theological studies and a PhD in human development education & clinical psychology. Unlike the author, I have committed to a mystical world-view and life-style.

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