Brain Science and Meditation

A Western Practitioner in the

PureInsight | January 6, 2003

[] In Explaining the Content of Falun Dafa, A Dafa practitioner asked, "When I sit in meditation, I often feel as if I'm sliding down, like riding an escalator, and am becoming very small. I wonder why." Master responded, "That too is normal, because the Primordial Spirit is very small. But it can also become large, and that's why a person's body can expand outward during practice. So some people feel that they're as tall as heaven, and some feel that they're becoming very small – all these are normal. But there's one thing: once a cultivator has done something not so good, he might also feel that he's falling; that's his level dropping, and the volume of his body reducing."

For Christmas my daughter gave me a picture book called Inside the Mind of God. It has color photomicrographs of hormones, drugs, cells, manifestations of karma and many other things related to the human body. This book, in a popularized format, gives a scientific background for our experiences such as the one above and what Master Li teaches us. Appearing in the introduction is the following, "The orientation area is what the mind of God bestowed on the brain of man so that puny humans could occasionally grasp the awesome existence of a deity, or, in other traditions, of a greater reality beyond the here and now." According to neurologists there are two orientation systems in the human brain. The one on the right side contains neurons that process sensory input about distances and directions so we can safely move around. The system on the left side appears to connect us with a different reality. In that area, the neurons define the boundaries of our bodies, and our relation to the space beyond us. "When the orientation area is intact, it receives constant input from sense of sight and sense of touch which it uses to determine where the individual ends and the rest of the world begins."

Described in the same book was an experiment performed to observe the effect of meditation on the brain. A Tibetan Buddhist was asked to meditate under experimental conditions. After quieting his inner chatter and finding his inner spiritual reality, he tugged on a string leading to scientists in another room. They immediately injected into him a radioactive tracer through a long tube. The doctors rushed him to a single photon emission tomography (SPECT) camera, which imaged his brain during meditation, and determined the blood flow in his brain at that time. They found a great change in the left orientation area (the posterior superior parietal lobe), which they described as a "quieting" of this area. The same experiment was done with seven other Tibetan Buddhists with very similar results. Later experiments were done with Franciscan nuns who described their peak experience as "a tangible sense of the closeness of God and a mingling with him." Their brain pictures were strikingly similar to those of the Tibetan Buddhists. These experiments were done by Dr. Andrew Newburg who specializes in brain scans and Dr. Eugene d'Aquili who has spent years studying brain function and religious states as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

Master has given us a great deal of material regarding tranquility. For example, "Everyone knows that Sakyamuni taught 'samadhi.' What did he teach prior to samadhi? He taught 'precept' and abandoning all desires and addictions until nothing is left – then one can achieve samadhi." (From Zhuan Falun)

Add new comment