May 13, 2008

the spiritual dimension of life

In honor of the recent death of Albert Hofmann, the chemist who discovered LSD (btw, he was 102 - even with all that tripping...), I've been thinking a lot about the spiritual dimension and what we go through in our search for "deeper meaning" - or as J. put it this weekend, the aesthetic truths (as opposed to the functional truths that we search for as scientists or journalists, etc)

From a NYT article on Neural Buddhists today discusses how science, especially neuroscience, is changing its view towards deeper meaning - "Over the past several years, the momentum has shifted away from hard-core materialism. The brain seems less like a cold machine. It does not operate like a computer. Instead, meaning, belief and consciousness seem to emerge mysteriously from idiosyncratic networks of neural firings. Those squishy things called emotions play a gigantic role in all forms of thinking. Love is vital to brain development.
...The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real."

This concept of "feeling more real" is intriguing to me - because I think those are the moments we crave, perhaps not all the time, but most nights I feel like that's the search is for. But as R. pointed out - you can't actually search for it, or you'll miss it. The aesthetic truths can't be pursued - we just have to slowly figure them out as we go...

Even though he tripped on LSD a lot, Albert Hofman found spiritual transcendence in other parts of his life as well. His advice to would-be trippers? “Go to the meadow, go to the garden, go to the woods. Open your eyes!
(what a perfect quote for the beginning of summer)

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