Looking at gratitude in tribal living, our natural way of life. It’s better to receive gratitude than to give it, so it’s better to give than to receive.
Living in gratitude, being grateful for all we have, is often offered as a spiritual path all by itself. In our early evolutionary history, when all humans lived in tribes, earning the gratitude of others, was probably much more important. People who are kind to others earn not only their short-term appreciation, but also their long-term respect and admiration.
Women who supported others with food, council, friendship, and support in times of grief or fear would have had more help and support in taking care of their children. Men who helped others to hunt, provided food, and spoke well of them would have had a better chance of becoming a respected member of tribal councils, and may have qualified to be the chief.
The idea of “living in gratitude” would not have occurred to our earliest ancestors. Instead, they would probably have thought about how to gain the gratitude of other people. Many tribal peoples believe that whatever helps one person helps the whole tribe; that all people benefit when one person receives the help and support they need. A person who is overwhelmed with grief, worry, or pain can be less effective in gathering food, communal work, or in finding the right mood for a ceremony. Helping them come back to the state of mind they need to truly be a part of their society helps the whole tribe to stay integrated. Kindness is an essential survival skill. Compassion and empathy are two of the building blocks of survival for human beings.
The need to keep the tribe together, and avoid conflicts and disputes meant that anyone who had the personality to spread kindness, to earn the gratitude of others, would have been a precious jewel to their people.
Solving the “Hard Problem”: Consciousness as an Intrinsic Property of Magnetic Fields.
Our brains contain magnetic crystals; 5 million of them per gram. Todd Murphy proposes that the magnetic field they create in our brains, with their many positive and negative poles, form the physical basis of consciousness; the physics of our mysterious awareness.
The two poles of a simple magnetic field offer the basis for feedback between the perceiver and the perceived, an essential feature of consciousness.
Each electrical signal running between brain cells reverberates throughout the brain’s very complicated internal magnetic fields, allowing us to be aware of them. Every input to the brain creates electrical activity in the brain, and these are imposed, however briefly, on the brain’s internal magnetic field. Neuroscientist Todd Murphy suggests that our subjective experiences interface with the world around us when the neural electrical activity it creates integrates with the brain’s internal magnetic field. Moreover, patterns of activity in the brain’s magnetic field can influence electrical firing in brain cells, completing their reciprocal relationship.
A YouTube video presentation on this solution to the “Hard Problem” can be seenHERE(52 minutes).
Rather than invoking a complex theory or resting on intricate mathematics, Murphy proposes that the 19th century formulas, called Maxwell’s Equations, which describe the relationship between electrical currents (including axons in the brain) and magnetic fields, are enough to describe the physical basis of consciousnesses.
The brain’s magnetite crystals, arranged in chains called magnetosomes, are found in many species, including simple bacteria that use them for up/down orientation. Murphy even suggests that our nervous systems may have first evolved to conform with the physics of magnetic fields, evolving brain tissue to facilitate their information processing and exchange.
Noting that science can only examine consciousness in biological organisms, Murphy alludes to the fact that magnetic fields are propagated at a significant fraction of the speed of light (a bit less than that in a ‘wet’ medium). This means that a single magnetic signal can resonate throughout the brain in vanishingly small periods of time. This makes it the fastest mode of communication available in the brain, very important for organisms needing to respond to threats or opportunities. Consciousness, Murphy asserts, is an evolutionary adaptation that contributes to the survival of conscious species, and organisms that take more time to respond to their own perceptions are more likely to be eaten by predators, or to lose food sources, than those that respond to them more quickly .
Murphy’s theory addresses the dualism debate (whether or not consciousness is a material process) by pointing out that magnetic fields are neither matter nor energy (in the language of physics, they’re forces), so whether consciousness is material or not depends on the definition for ‘matter’ in this case. If ‘matter’ includes fundamental forces, then consciousness is material. If it only applies to matter itself (as we commonly experience it), then consciousness is not material.
Murphy’s paper (link below) points out that no magnetic field can ever be ‘blocked’ or ‘shielded’, so all consciousness is both local (depending on a nervous system), and “non-local,” because the magnetic signals (reflecting electrical signals) can be ‘broadcast’ to other brains. The fields may be very faint by the time they reach another nearby brain, but Murphy suggests that the information content is more important than the field strength. A weak magnetic field with meaningful signals will be received more readily than ‘garbage data’ borne on a strong magnetic field.
Todd Murphy, associated with the Laurentian University Behavioral Neurosciences Program for decades, also suggests a few possible experiments that would support his theory, but proving it decisively will not be easy. The very definition for the word consciousness presents a problem, because all definitions refer to it’s synonyms (like ‘awareness,’ or ‘subjective’), making them “tautological”. In addition, consciousness is an inherently subjective experience; we can’t share our subjective experiences with others, or directly know what they perceive. (Is ‘red’ the same for you as it is for me, or are we only agreeing that the word ‘red’ is right for, say, an apple?)
Assuming it gains attention and stands the test of time, Murphy’s theory will have solved the “hard problem” of consciousness without reference to any metaphysical, philosophical or religious concepts, instead relying only on neuroscience and basic physics.
A) Magnetic fields are ‘conscious’ by virtue of their many input/output avenues, which allow them to function as feedback mechanisms.
B) The brain’s magnetic fields ‘pick up,’ or resonate with, information from the brain’s electrical activity, making us conscious of our own thoughts, feeling, and perceptions.
C) The magnetic fields also impose their patterns of information on the brain’s electrical system, influencing neuronal electrical activity.
The “hard problem” has been called the most difficult challenge facing science today, but as with many riddles, it looks easy once it’s been solved.
The God Helmet Experiments: The Science That Found God in the Human Brain. A New Kind of Science Book.
Based on research papers by Dr. Michael A. Persinger.
Todd Murphy, editor and author.
The God Helmet is a technology known for it’s ability to create religious and mystic experiences in the lab, so we can understand the brain’s role in spiritual experiences.
The God Helmet has received a great deal of attention over the years, but much of it has been based on inaccurate media reports. Very few people read the actual research papers, or understand what it’s inventor, Dr. Michael A. Persinger, actually said. Neither critics nor supporters seem to have read his actual research papers, partly because they’re very difficult reading.
This book consists of some of his his research papers, re-written on a sentence-by sentence basis, making them much easier to read, so people can see his work for themselves.
The first part has some of his more important review articles, giving an overview of his theories and concepts.
The second part recounts some of his experiments, including his methods, as some critics have falsely alleged that Dr. Persinger didn’t use placebo controls or blind conditions, or that his results were due to suggestion. None of these are true.
The third part contains answers to his critics, who don’t seem tounderstand his methods or theories. As this book will show you, their accusations of improper research are completely unfounded.
The God Helmet is famous for creating visions of God in some research subjects, but it’s also been used to create out-of-body experiences, paranormal episodes and to treat depression. Some of the research publications that cover these striking results are included in this collection of rewritten, simplified journal publications.
It’s still a book of science, so put your “thinking caps” on as you read it.
There is a large gap between real science writing (formal journal articles, with their often cumbersome writing style) and ‘pop’ science books and news reports (often inaccurate and over-simplified). This book closes that gap, and we hope to see more books like this in other fields.
There is too much sensationalism in science reporting, with so many news articles distorting the actual research in order to get clicks, shares, and “likes” on social media. This book breaks away from that kind of science reporting. I hope you will find it a refreshing change from the kind of science writing we see today.
Dr. Persinger published over 500 academic, medical, and scientific papers, and this book only scratches the surface, with it’s 30 publications (some of them are informal web articles), and we hope to publish further volumes summarizing them.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in the meeting of science and religion, but who want to see the actual science, and not secondhand comments about it.
“Dr. Michael Persinger, known as the developer of the God Helmet, an experimental apparatus that let a few people see God in his laboratory, has published a laboratory report in which a subject had an out-of-body experience immediately after magnetic brain stimulation that lasted only five minutes.” Link (opens in a new window)
There is an interesting and quite descriptive review of the 8 Coil Shakti feelgood session here. Its much longer than most, and the level of detail is impressive. Worth reading if you’re interested.
“I have, more than once, leaned back and simply enjoyed being alive within the last couple of weeks. It seems silly, but tears have welled up in my eyes while I am writing this. A flash of joy happened again and it’s hard to understand, but it’s beautiful. My vision blurs and I feel my chest rising and falling with each blessing of a breath. My mouth hangs slightly open and my body releases all the tension that was being saved in my muscles. The smiling feeling in my heart migrates down into my hips and up my throat and into my head. I feel slightly dizzy and warm. Light of weight and light in the darkness. The peace finds my toes and forearms. Strangely, the place where I was able to feel it readily at first – my hands – is not as pronounced in this state. I find myself wanting to tell the universe thank you when this joy comes to me. What I have found through meditation is the park that can be provoked. I don’t understand it, and I don’t understand the implications, but when I am in this peaceful state I can somehow flex this peaceful muscle and joy turns to a more pronounced bliss.”
“ … interested readers will no doubt ﬁnd (this) illuminating.” – From the foreword by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. This work in neurotheology integrates science and spirituality, starting with evolution. It offers new ways of thinking about reincarnation, God, enlightenment, psychic skills, and the human brain. It’s written from an atheist perspective, but it openly encourages prayer, meditation and spiritual living. It tells us that the pathways in the brain that function at death are also the basis of mystic experiences while we’re still alive. “ … this book, … balances … subjective experience with the general principles of neuroscience. … Sacred Pathways is the Principia (‘book of basic principles’ or ‘first work’) of the scientific investigation of spiritual experiences.” – Dr. M.A. Persinger. Todd Murphy is a member of a university neurosciences group, and has published in several scientific journals. His 9-hour lecture series can be seen on youtube.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Forward by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet
Forward By Dr MA Persinger
Forward by His Grace, Bishop +Nazarin
2 Reincarnation in Human Evolution
3 Some Brain Parts
4 Some Principles from Neuroscience
5 The God Helmet
6 The Stages in Near-Death Experiences
7 Neural Bases for Phases of NDEs
8 Sensed Presence & Visitor Experiences
9 Out Of Body Experiences
10 God and the Brain
11 Romantic Love
12 Enlightenment And the Self
13 Neural Avalanches (Interhemispheric Intrusions) (case histories of mystic experiences)
14 Psychic Skills
16 The Earth beneath Our Feet (Geomagnetic Influences)
There is a 506-page paperback edition, and a kindle e-book.
The price is below the Publisher’s suggested retail price for a “book of this length and genre” You can see it online HERE.
You can also see some articles on the same subject (sometimes called neurotheology) HERE.
Some years ago, a Swedish researcher (a grad student at the time), P. Granqvist, did an experiment with the God Helmet. Incorrectly set up, it yielded no results. They scrambled the magnetic signals, so that they couldn’t do their job, and then claimed that results that Persinger (the leading researcher in this area) obtained were due to suggestibility. In fact, suggestibility had been ruled out much earlier, when it was learned that different signals had different effects. Suggestibility alone would mean they would all have been the same. The God Helmet had one group of effects when it was used over the left side of the brain, and very different effects when it was used over the right. The same experimental protocols were used throughout. Persinger also reported success with depression in two preliminary studies (onetwo), which included six-week follow-up; a result that also rules out suggestion.
In addition, Persinger’s studies used a minimum of 20 minute applications of the magnetic signals. Granqvist used exposures half as long. It wouldn’t have mattered in any case, because the signals were being run too fast to hold their shape.
Critics remain silent about that. Granqvist also claimed that Persinger’s low-power magnetic fields could not penetrate the skull, a foolish claim that ignores the laws of physics (there is no such thing as a magnetic insulation). Many researchers, unconnected to Persinger have independently proven that faint magnetic fields have measurable effects on the brain. Recently, some over-zealous skeptics have been touting the study by the Swedish group as the final word on the subject, ignoring Dr. Persinger’s published responses to the flawed study. The Swedish researcher is a psychologist who believes that religion is a projection of our attachment to our parents, while Persinger believes that religion is an intrinsic feature of our species, though not everyone is equally prone to it. Granqvist’s specialty is the psychology of religious behavior, not neurology, which made him less than qualified to set up the God Helmet correctly, especially without asking Persinger to help. Granqvist came to Persinger asking for equipment to see its effects through PET scanning, and Persinger instructed him accordingly. As it happens, Granqvist never even attempted to do PET scans, but instead jumped ahead of his experience to try to create the ‘sensed presence’ experience, which called for longer sessions than verification with PET would need. He failed, and blamed his results on Persinger. He even falsely claimed that Persinger never used double-blind protocols. Here’s a link that summarizes Persinger’s response.
The God Helmet uses low-intensity magnetic fields. Some academics (psychologists, not neuroscientists) have claimed that the fields aren’t strong enough to influence the brain. In fact, there have been many experiments that found significant effects in the brain using weak magnetic fields. Here’s a link to a page that reviews some of these studies. The magnetic fields Dr. M.A. Persinger uses with the God Helmet are strong enough to do the job. In fact, some researchers use fields that are even weaker, but their work, unrelated to religion, isn’t controversial, so it gets less attention. Sometimes, “less is more”. It seems the critics who mistakenly claimed that only very strong magnetic fields can influence the brain (like those used in TMS) simply hadn’t done their homework. In fact, the mechanism where low-intensity magnetic fields affect the brain has been known for over twenty years. Link.
My paper on the evolution of reincarnation (published in the Journal for Near-Death Studies in the year 2000) is online HERE. If I had it to write it again, I would do it differently. Many things have changed in the 12 years since it was published. “The Structure and Function of Near-Death Experiences: an Algorithmic Reincarnation Hypothesis”.