Understanding the Brain and Knowing the Self
The medical community is concerned that humanity is suffering and they do not have an answer for most sicknesses. When they do not have an answer, they create a syndrome to name a disease. It is a fact that nowadays there is a growing occurrence of psychosomatic diseases although causes and symptoms may vary.
Being qualified both in Western medicine and Ayurveda, I have the advantage that I understand the concept of brain and mind. I am writing this article for you as a co-traveller on the path to health and to spirituality. It is based on my own experiences about the functions of the brain and about energy as described in most of the traditional healing systems.
It was clear to me even during my medical studies that brain and mind are not the same. Our brain is part of the visible, tangible world of the body. Our mind is part of the invisible, transcendent world of thought, feeling, attitude, belief, and imagination. The brain is the physical organ most associated with mind and consciousness, but the mind is not limited to the brain. The intelligence of our mind permeates every cell of our body, not just our brain cells. Our mind has tremendous power over all bodily systems.
I was fortunate to visit and work with different groups in the course of my thesis paper. I worked with many religious organisations throughout India including the Vedic Study Center in Haridwar, the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, the Amma Ashram in Amritapuri, Kerala, the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, the Judah Hyam Institute in New Delhi and the Hamdard School of Islamic Studies in Old Delhi.
After returning to South Africa, I studied and participated in Traditional Sangoma Healings (a shaman or traditional medicine practitioner from South Africa) in Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province.
Even then I researched by reading many books from e.g. Braham Kumaris, Art of Living, Oneness University, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Rudolph Steiner, Sadhguru, Osho, Eckhart Tolle, Ramana Maharshi, Rumi and many more. I became the disciple and followed all their instructions. This was not merely a knowledge gathering exercise for me but rather a true experience.
I have had two, three experiences in my life, which I want to share with you. The most intensive one was a 21-day “near-death experience” called BARDO in a Tibetan Monastery in the remote areas of Mc Leodganj, India. Participants were selected by the Tibetan religious councils after three months of extensive training. BARDO is a very sophisticated Tibetan process, it is a state of existence between two lives on earth.
According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not yet connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. For prepared and appropriately trained individuals, the BARDO offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality. BARDO describes the period of time when our mind is in a state of “suspension”, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation. Such times can prove fruitful for healing.
Another one was the Mystic Rose mediation process at Osho Ashram in Pune, India. This experience was a unique, simple, and effective means to get rid of all emotional garbage and make you feel gravity-free. It involves continuous crying for one week, laughing without reason for one week and silence for one week.
Another great mystic experience was fasting during Ramadan, an annual Islamic tradition. Every tradition must have a meaning, maybe we have not understood this until now. Fasting at Ramadan is a collective way of worship by a group of people rather than a certain set of doctrinal dogmas. In those moments of fasting and praying, there is a collectiveness, there is a connection with a profound awareness. We are then aware that we are not alone in the world.
Ramadan was created centuries ago and appears absurd to others: however, it is the clearest, most magical, and most inspired manifestation of human thinking, because it is beyond consciousness. It seems beautiful because there is no reason that something which we do not understand rationally should not be true, thereby remaining a natural mystery.
My only purpose was to learn how faith or a belief can shape and programme the human brain. Although the purpose was academic, I learned so much for my practice. Here, I would like to attempt to translate ancient wisdom from all cultures, traditions, and practices with modern science and international systems of units and vocabulary in order to make it possible for you to relate to this without any misunderstanding.
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