Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Evidence-Based Spirituality for the 21st Century

"If it is indeed reasonable . . ,. to be both spiritually inclined and scientific," asks psychologist Charles T. Tart, PhD., "how could we go on to develop an evidence-based spirituality for the twenty-first century?" How can we get beyond simply "I believe it," or "I don't believe it," and start to find out what is true and false about the area we call spiritual and psychic, and how do you go on to develop that in a useful kind of way?"

"If you look at the results of real science, and not scientism," Tart observes, "there is a lot of evidence to show that humans beings sometimes show the kind of qualities that we would expect spiritual beings to have. And, therefore," he points out, "it is quite reasonable to be both scientific and spiritual in your approach toward life."

In the attached videos, Tart, a fellow of the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, lays the basis for a scientifically-reasonable twenty-first spirituality, examining research results in 'subtle energy' (known as chi or prajna in the East), 'psychic' healing, mindfulness, meditation and higher states of consciousness. The last video, Part 6 in the series, is particularly interesting as it compares Eastern spiritual 'psychologies' with traditional Western psychology (and what he calls "dismissive materialism").

"We can," Tart observes,"start separating out in a relatively objective way what is genuine and what is superstition or brain malfunctioning and use that to refine and clarify, and hopefully make more effective, various spiritual systems that are designed to make people have direct spiritual experiences. For instance, if meditation is associated with certain kinds of brain wave activity, and we can train that kind of brain wave activity more directly, maybe we can combine those two things and come up with a way to teaching meditation more effectively than it is done traditionally."

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