I’ve just finished a new (second) edition of Sacred Pathways: The brain’s role in Religious and Mystic Experiences“. I remain grateful to both H.H. The Dalai Lama, and Dr. Michael A. Persinger for providing forewords to my book. Although the reader feedback for the book is very positive, a couple have commented that they found proofreading errors, and asked that they be fixed. I have done so.
In addition, I’ve made smaller additions throughout the text, as well as adding references for many statements.
Preparing the text for the second edition was a very fulfilling job that sent me back to the drawing board, and I learned a few new things along the way.
One important change is that recent evidence shows that only a small portion of the anterior commissure (AC) connects the two amygdala, which makes it even more likely that it would be changed during a dramatic spiritual experience. Interestingly, most of the AC fibers connect the temporal lobes with each other. In other primate species, they are exclusively dedicated to connecting the two amygdala to each other.
Another is that there is more emphasis on the role of the frontal lobes in such experiences, especially with respect to their connections to the brain’s reward circuits.
None of these changes call for any alteration in the book’s basic hypothesis, that religious and mystic experiences represent excitement in the “Sacred Pathways” that we evolved to support the death-process, as made explicit in Near-death experiences.
There are a few more illustrations, of brain circuits, some of the saints mentioned in the text, and of Yama, the fascinating lord of The Underworld in the mythologies of India, Thailand, China, and most of Southern Asia. I’ve also put it into Amazon’s “Matchbook” program, so if you buy the paperback edition, you can get the kindle version for 1/3 of the regular price. I don’t know why anyone would want to read it in both editions, but Amazon seems to think its a good idea, and they know more about kindle readers than I do.