Shiva Neural Stimulation and “Electronic Enlightenment”

A Swiss Researcher using the Shiva Neural Stimulation System found that his subjects were having “enlightenment” experiences.  The website talks about psychic perception and spiritual growth, not enlightenment and a few people have asked why this difference.

The Shiva Neural Stimulation System is based on Persinger’s “Octopus” device, which he developed several years after his more famous “God Helmet“.  They use the same hardware, but arranged differently.

The Swiss group consisted of meditators, “energy workers”, and other people with careers in non-traditional spirituality.  The emphasis on psychic perceptions on the website (telepathy and remote viewing) reflects the fact that the most rigorous tests, done with laboratory precision (including EEG monitoring) had results that confirmed two forms of telepathic (one |two) (I prefer the phrase brain-to-brain communication) perception.  These have received more attention, especially after Dr. Persinger’s interview with skeptico.com.  The Swiss group’s results, which referred to Electronic Enlightenment, is still limited to a preliminary and somewhat informal report, and hasn’t been published in full.

One difference between the Swiss group’s work and Dr. Persinger’s is that the Swiss averaged 4 sessions per subject, while Persinger’s experiments in telepathy were done with only one session per subject.  Effects that appear after several sessions could not have appeared in Persinger’s scientific papers.

It may be that circumcerebral neural stimulation (which includes Shiva Neural Stimulation) will one day go well beyond its well-known effects and yield a way for at least some people to become “enlightened”, “illuminated’, “realized” – or something like that.  In fact, very few people even know the difference between these experiences.  They may all be the same in the end.

The Swiss group broke new ground in their efforts.  They found that the mental fatigue that can come from too much spiritual work can be addressed running the system “backwards” – using clockwise rotation around the head instead of the usual counterclockwise configuration.  Of course, this is a breakthrough because it offers a new kind of evidence, and it does so in an independent replication.  What did the Swiss (led by Dr. Rolf Bosch) discover?  First, that much more can come from this kind of stimulation than psychic perception, and that running it “backwards” can elicit a range of yet undiscovered effects.  Second, that effects appear over time that don’t come up with just one session.

One Shiva neural System user found that the light he experienced from his yoga (Kriya Yoga) was stronger when he ran his sessions clockwise than when he used its usual counterclockwise setup, which created a deep sense of space and darkness.  This is only one case, but it does make the point clearly.

I suspect that running “Shiva” “backwards” may enhance left-hemispheric spiritual practices (like those that rely on prayer and work towards joy and light) while running it “forwards” may enhance right-hemispheric spiritual practices (like those that rely on meditation and work towards tranquility and insight).  Dr. Persinger has already seen the latter effect.  For the rest, time will tell.  Thanks are due to Dr. Bosch, and the Swiss Deep Focus Institute.

Interestingly, others have found that higher field strengths (up to 92% of the total) with the standard (counterclockwise) setup have helped with eliciting dream effects.

Some users have had very good responses from the “Consciousness Signal” in the “Simple Signals” section (actually it’s a phase-modulated 40Hz signal, so it’s not a very “simple” signal).  These reports have emphasized bliss and joy, not psychic skills.

One review can be seen HERE.

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New Book Sacred Pathways: The Brain’s Role In Religious and Mystic Experiences. Foreword by the Dalai Lama.

My book has been released.  Sacred Pathways: The Brain’s Role In Religious and Mystic Experiences.  It has a foreword by the 14th Dalai Lama, and one by Dr. M.A. Persinger, and a third by an Orthodox Bishop.

“ … 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
  • 1 Introduction
  • 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
  • 15 Prayer
  • 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.

Badly Flawed God Helmet Study

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 (one two), 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: Weak Magnetic Fields are strong enough.

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.

Darwinian Reincarnation

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”.

Role of Religious and Mystic Experiences In Human Evolution

“The Role of Religious and Mystic Experiences In Human Evolution: A Corollary Hypothesis for Neurotheology” is online HERE.  Here is the abstract:

“The adaptive value of maintaining a portion of our population subject to religious, mystic or spiritual experiences is discussed. An evolutionary mechanism, which may be unique to humans, is posited in which all humans have the neural pathways supporting mystic experiences, but only a small  portion of our population experiences them. Those that do will display signs and personality traits that are associated with temporal lobe electrical lability or sensitivity. These traits motivate behavior that benefits their social group. The cognitive and affective styles displayed by mystics ensure that multiple perspectives are expressed during collective decision‐making processes. The perspectives mystics offer their societies increase the variation within the human “ideational pool”. These perspectives improve their chances for advantageous choices in times of threats or opportunities. Such an adaptation, producing variety in problem‐solving skills, might be the source for the exceptionally wide range of personality types found within our species.”

Spiritually-inclined people think differently than others, and their unique ways of seeing things ensures that there was always a few people in each of our early social groups that expressed a spiritual perspective.  The article also says that there are two primary drivers for spiritual experiences – the left amygdala and the right hippocampus.  The left amygdala is more social, confident and ‘outward’ in its functions, and when it’s exceptionally excitable in a person, they are more likely to see things that way.  When the right hippocampus is more excitable, the person will be more introspective, cautious, and given to solitude.  The personality types that arise from these two structures may not fit into the ‘personality types’ modern psychology recognizes, but the behaviors they facilitate will certainly have played a role in our evolution.

This article seeks to take neurotheology beyond the brain itself, and extend it into its evolution.  The experiences neurotheology explains are not enough – the evolution of the brain, along with its capacity for spiritual experiences, has a place, too.  Neurotheology is a new field, and this article is an attempt to bring a touch of evolutionary thinking into it.