J. Deikman, M.D.
Journal of Consciousness Studies
in science & the humanities
7,No. 11-12, November/December 2000
Issue 'Cognative Models and Spiritual Maps'
out more and purchase paperbacks and subscriptions here.
is associated with religion it has long been regarded as inimical
to science, an enemy of the search for objective truth, not to be
credited as a discipline through which knowledge of reality;y can
be gained. At least that seems to be the official attitude that
pervades scientific publications and scientific meetings, even at
the present time when quantum theory has made consciousness a legitimate
subject for research.
In point in fact, informal inquiry reveals that many
scientists have had experiences they would describe transcendent,
as going beyond familiar sensory dimensions and providing a taste
of the unified reality of which mystics speak. They don't talk about
it in public but will do so in private. The greatest scientist of
them all, Isaac Newton, was so haunted by the sense of the transcendent
that devoted the later part of his life to alchemical studies, expressing
his yearning in a particularly poignant lament:
I don't know what I may seem to the world, but as for myself,I
seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore and
diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or
a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth
lay all undiscovered before me
(Newton, 1992, p.494).
Albert Einstein, another
prodigious pioneer of science, echoes Newton in his belief in the
reality of the mystical:
The most beautiful and profound emotion emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical. It is the source of all true
science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer
wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that
what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as
the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull
faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms --- this
knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religion ( Einstein, 1991,p.191).
Not only is mystical experience
an occurrence in the lives of most people, including scientists,
but the mystical literature , which spans thousands of years and
widely disparate cultures, exhibits a remarkable consistency in
its description of mystical experience and its instructions for
obtaining access to mystical knowledge. William James commented:
There is about mystical utterances an eternal unanimity which
ought to make a critic stop and think ( James, p. 410).
In this paper, I will
present way of understanding the mystical experience based on the
role of intention in determining consciousness. This approach may
enable us to understand a variety of mystical techniques and teachings
without becoming entangled in obscure doctrines or religious-sounding
Meditation and Deautomatization
Before beginning medical school I had
a mystical experience while camping on a lake in the Adiondacs.
There were other people living in tent cabins living along the lake
but, essentially, I was alone. I used the isolations to grapple
with personal questions and doubts that had emerged from the college
years, especially `What did I really want? Why was I dissatisfied
?' I reflected that music and poetry had powerful appeal for me
because they seemed to contain something important and satisfying.
I decided that there existed a source of what the arts conveyed
to me and what I needed draw closer to that source.
Having reached that conclusion, I began a routine of
siting each day for a half hour on a boulder perched on the water's
edge. With closed eyes, I would try to reach out to that unknown
something that I so intensely wanted to find. I didn't know where
to look -- there was just the wish,the desire, and that push to
contact the source.
After a week or so , my perception of my surroundings
changed. I began to see the details of what was around me; the stones
and leaves appeared more intricately patterned, the colors brighter.
Then, I began to sense an invisible emanation coming from the sky,
the trees, the surrounding natural world. It was as if I could see
it, but really couldn't. I could feel it, but not with my usual
senses. What was seminating to me was intrinsically positive,important,satisfying
--- something I knew I wanted without question. It was also clear
to me that other people did not perceive it. I made note to myself
not to romanticize it; what I perceived was not a guarantee of bliss
--- I still experienced loneliness at my lakeside camp. Yet, at
the same time, the perception was felt to be of paramount value.
The experience continued through the rest of the
summer, but the summer came to an end. I returned to begin medical
school and the perception became weaker and gradually faded away.
Later,when the opportunity to do so arose, I had began to read the
mystical literature to try and understand what had taken place years
earlier. Struck by the uninamity that had so impressed James and
others, I concluded that the mystics were describing a true phenomenon,
that their instructions must have validity, and it might be possible
to understand mysticism by employing reason, experiment, and knowledge
of development and cognitive psychology.
I chose to begin by investigating meditation;
in particular, the concentrative meditation described in the Yoga
of Pantanjali. To do this, I rounded up friends and acquaintances,
sat them down opposite a blue vase, and instructed them as follows:
The purpose of the the session is to learn about concentration.
Your aim is to concentrate on the blue vase [located on a table
in front of the subjects]. By concentration I do not mean analyzing
the different parts of the vase, or thinking a series if thoughts
about the vase, or associating ideas to the vase; but rather,
trying to see the vase as it exits in itself without any connection
to other things. Exclude all other thoughts or feelings or sounds
or body sensations. Do not let them distract you, but keep them
out so you can concentrate all your attention, all your awareness
on the vase itself. Let the perception of the vase fill your entire
mind (Deikman, 1963 ).
Each subject did this
for half an hour, after which questioned them about their experiences.
Most participated in about forty sessions spread out over a few
months, but striking changes in perception were reported very soon
in the experiment. The vase was seen as becoming more vivid, more
rich -- `luminous' was one description. It seemed to acquire a life
of it's own, to become animated. There was a lessening of the sense
of being separate from the vase: `I really began to feel ... almost
as though the the blue and I were perhaps merging or that the vase
and I were.' Synaesthetic phenomena were also reported: `When the
vase changes shape, I feel this in my body'; ` I began to feel this
light going back and forth.'(1)
Although this was not a controlled scientific
study, the reports of the subjects were consistent with those in
the mystical literature. As I thought about the changes that had
been reported, it occurred to me that they represented a reversal
of the normal developmental process whereby infants and children
learn to perceive, grasp, and categorize objects. This learning
progresses and as it does it becomes automatic; they no longer have
to pay such close attention to the nature of objects. Instead, more
and more attention is free and put in the service of thought , of
abstractions. The meditation activity that my subjects performed
was reverse of the developmental process: the precept(the vase)
was invested with attention while thought was inhibited. As a consequence,
sensuousness, merging of boundaries and sensory modalities became
prominent. A deautomatization had occurred, permitting a
different experience of the vase than would ordinarily be the case.
Since perceptual automatization is a hierarchical
developmental process it would be expected that deautomatization
would result in a shift toward cognitive and perceptual experience
that could be characterized as more `primitive'. There is evidence
supporting this . In a statement based on studies of eidetic imaginary
in children, as well as on broader studies of perceptual development,
Heinz Werner concluded:
The image... gradually changed in functional character. It
becomes essentially subject to the exigencies of abstract thought.
Once the image changes in function and becomes an instrument of
abstract thought . Once the image changes in function and becomes
an instrument of reflective thought, its structure will also change.
It is only through such structural change that the image can serve
as an instrument in abstract mental activity. This is why, of
necessity, the sensuousness, fullness of detail, the color and
vivacity of the image must fade( Werner, 1957, p.152).
offered experimental evidence supporting this conclusion by studying
the response of children of different ages to Rorschach images.
He found that with increasing age the children paid less and less
of the sensual aspects of the Rorschach cards, such as texture color,
and progressively more attention to the meaning, and to formal qualities
such as shape and size( Shapiro 1960).
Complementing Shapiro's findings were those of
Daniel Brown who studied the Rorschach response of meditators of
different levels of attainment and different meditative techniques.
He found that in the case of advanced meditators, prominence was
given to `pure perceptual features of the ink blots'. As one subject
put it, `...The meditation has wiped out all the interpretive stuff
on top of the raw perception' ( Brown and Engler,
1986). These findings are consistent with the reversal of the
developmental shift from the sensory to the abstract ----- a deautomaticization(
Although the concept of deautomaticization seems
to explain some of the basic cognitive effects of meditation, it
has been difficult to test the hypothesis neurophysiologically.
Initially, it appeared to be supported by EEG studies of experienced
Zen meditators. Kasamatsu and Hirai found an absence of habituation
to a click stimulus (measured by alpha blocking ) as compared to
controls (Kasamatsu & Hirai,
1969). This ,too, suggested that a sensory deautomatization
had taken place. However, studies of Yogi adepts, as well as Zen
practitioners, showed a great variability of EGG response due to
the need of control for variety of variables, such as the type of
meditation being practiced, whether the eyes were open or closed,
the level of advancement of the meditation subjects, their state
of arousal at the time, and the meaningfulness of the stimulus (Austin, 1998).
However, the data do suggest that that a shift toward increased
sensory sensitivity takes place when a concentrative meditation
is practiced with an external focus, as in my initial `blue vase'
Renunciation and Services
Renunciation and service are usually
discussed in the context of morality, virtue, and saintliness. But
we need not approach this as a moral issue, but as a straightforward
matter of cognitive psychology. As I have described, our survival
as biological organisms takes priority in development. This survival
requires the development of a self that can acquire supplies, defend
them against others, and take from others what might be needed or
desired. This is the self-as-object, the survival self. It pervades
our everyday experience. Our society keeps it activated with threats
of danger, promises of pleasure, prestige and ease, and encouraging
competition for wealth and power. This situation is not just a matter
of runaway capitalism. After all, Buddha preached to a society existing
two thousand years before our own time. The Buddhist sutras and
the scriptures of Vedanta were addressed to people living well before
the advent of advertising and the stock market. The fact is that
self-centered consciousness has always been with us as a matter
of biological necessity. The problem facing spiritual teachers was
that they had to start with people who, no matter how self-consciously
`spiritual', were devoted to the survival self. The teacher had
to bring about a transition to a consciousness that was primarily
other-centred, rather than self-centred. Only then could they taste
of a consciousness that features a sense of the connectedness of
everything, a unity, a reconciliation of the polar opposites that
comprise our usual perspective. This cannot occur in the instrumental
mode. Thomas Merton commented on this incompatibility in his book,
Zen and the Birds of Appetite. He describes meat-eating birds
(the survival self) looking for carrion:
Zen enriches no one. There is no body to be found. The birds
may come and circle for a while in the place where it is thought
to be. But they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the `nothing,'
the `no-body' that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It
was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it
was not their kind of prey (Merton, 1968,
Profound connection is
what the word `spiritual' properly refers to. The spiritual is not
a matter of visions of angels, or of being carried away by ecstatic
emotion. The mystics are clear about that. At its most basic, the
spiritual is the experience of the connectedness that underlies
reality. The depth of that experience depends on the capacity
of the individual to set aside considerations of self, thereby gaining
access to connection. Although people differ in the extent and frequency
with which they gain that access, the genuine experience abolishes
competitive comparisons. `I am more spiritual than he' is no longer
meaningful because the `I' and the`he' are now experienced as part
of a greater whole, not separate. Comparison requires separation.
Evidence for Connection
do we have that reality is in some way connected so as to be a unified
whole rather than a collection of independently existing parts?
It is common to cite quantum mechanics in support of this proposition.
Quantum theory, whose predictions have been repeatedly confirmed,
have led many physicists to the conclusion that reality is an interconnected
whole, capable of instantaneous response at a distance. In one well-known
experiment involving the emission of paired photons, a change in
the polarization of on photon is accompanied by a simultaneous change
in the polarization of the other---no matter how far apart they
are. This change is not the result of a signal passing from the
first to the second (that would exceed the speed of light). Rather,
there is an instantaneous correlation of events that implies a unity
of which both protons are a part. The results of this experiment
are often cited to support mystics' assertions. These findings may
indeed be based in the same reality of which mystics speak, but
they may not. Furthermore, physicists believe that the act of measurement
`collapses' the probability wave function to produce an event, others
dispute the metaphor of `collapse' and the putative role of human
consciousness in that process. The fact is, the theory of physics
is in continuous development and evolution. Jeremy Bernstein has
The science of the present will look as antiquated to our successors
as much of the nineteenth-century science looks to us now. To
hitch a religious philosophy to a contemporary science is a sure
route to obsolescence (Bernstein, 1978/197).
Although the conclusions
of particle physicists and the poetic utterances of mystics do invite
risky comparisons, we need not rely on drawing parallels between
them. Instead, we can focus on two other sources that testify to
the interconnectedness and unified nature of reality: (1) the consensus
of the mystical literature and (2) the reports of persons for whom
service (helping others) is a major focus of their lives.
The compelling consensus of mystics
is that the perception of oneself as an object---fundamentally isolated
within our own consciousness---is an illusion, a misconception that
is the source of human destructiveness and suffering. It might be
argued that this consensus is due to social contagion, ideas spreading
through direct contact from: one mystic to another, across cultural
and geographic boundaries. Against such a proposition is the fact
that Buddhism, Taoism, the Upanishads and the `wisdom' books of
the Old Testament all arose in different cultures at about the same
time, around 500BC. Something seemed to be happening during that
time that resulted in a direct experience of a reality not easily
comprehended and hard to imitate. Conceptual transmission by itself
could not do this, especially as the mystical experience is ineffable.
Techniques such as meditation could be passed along via trade routes
but there must be a common reality that is thereby revealed. Something
had to be there to be discovered.
Further evidence against merely social
contagion is the fact that mystics from theistic religions assert
a reality that is in conflict with the dogma of their church. Sometimes
the conflict is open, as in the case of Hallaj, the Sufi mystic
who proclaimed `I am God' and was dismembered for his blasphemy.
Christian mystics tend to be more indirect in their metaphors. They
may not assert the position of Hallaj that each person is fundamentally
identical with the Godhead instead of being separate, however they
describe something similar that is not really compatible with Christian
dogma. Here is a representative statement by St. John of the Cross:
That inward vision is so simple, so general and so spiritual
that it has not entered into the understanding enwrapped or clad
in any form or image subject to sense; it follows that sense and
imagination (as it has not entered through them nor has taken
their form or color) cannot account for it or imagine, so as to
say anything concerning it, although the soul be clearly aware
that is is experiencing and partaking of that rare and delectable
wisdom (St. John, 1953,
The usual theological
concepts have no place in such an experience. Theistic teaching
is of God the Father, of Heaven and Hell, but Christian mystics
like St. John of the Cross are quite explicit in stating that the
experience of the reality of God, the Ultimate, cannot be expressed
in terms of the things of this world. The problem for theologians
is that the concept of reward and punishment, handed out by an omnipotent,
omniscient God, is a derivative of the family experience, of child
and parent --- definitely a conception of this world. The difference
between mystics' experience and theological dogma is the reason
why mystics have been a perpetual problem for traditional religion.
This conflict attests to the fundamental nature of the mystics'
experience. It feels ultimate, beyond the domain of the sensory
and the rational, more real.
As I noted earlier, there is the addtional
fact that non-mystics also report experiences consistent with mystics'
reports, although these moments when connection is vivid and boundaries
dissolve are usually brief and of less depth. As Austin has pointed
out, there is a difference between the connectedness and no-self
that a lover may feel in the transports of sexual union, and the
radical shift in world perspective that takes place in the much
more rare event of kensho or enlightenment (Austin, 1998).
Nevertheless, both experiences are along the same dimension of connection,
as opposed to separation.
If connection is real, and if to experience
that dimension of reality requires an appropriate mode of consciousness,
then we are now in position to understand why mystical schools in
addition to prescribing meditation, stress the critical role of
renunciation and service.
Since survival self aims dictate the nature
of our experience, we can understand the meditation offers some
relief from that tyranny by (1) shifting intention from acting to
allowing, (2) from identification with emotions to identification
with the observer, and (3) shifting from instrumental thinking to
receptive experience. Furthermore, renunciation is not to equated
with self-denial, sefl-mortification, or asceticism. As one Zen
master put it, `Renunciation is not giving up the things of this
world; it is accepting that they go away' (Suzuki, 1968).
`Accepting that they go away' is an orientation that opens the grasping
hand and facilitates the shift away from the acquisitive aims that
activate survival self consciousness. Without that letting go, renunciation
could be utilized as just another way to fulism' (Trungpa, 1973).
Mystics are acutely aware of the problem. Rabia, a Sufi mystic,
prayed dramatically for relief from self-centred aims:
I worship you from fear of hell, cast me into hell,
I worship you from desire for paradise, deny me Paradise
(Shah, 1968, pp.
The Service Experience
is probably the most effective activity for providing access to
the connectedness of reality. However, like renunciation, `service'
is loaded with moral and religion associations. It is thought to
mean sacrifice, the handing over of time and money and the reward
of being a `good' person entitled to a heavenly homesite. The funcional
dynamics of service are not appreciated. Consider the problem of
motivation. I one does a good deed in the expectation that it will
be noted in the Book of Heavenly Record, what is taking place is
a commercial transaction. The survival self is still running the
show. To illustrate this point, imagine a business man who becomes
dissatisfied with material possessions. He then reads about the
bliss of enlightenment wants that. So he joins a spiritual group
and faxes a notice of his new intention to the computer control
centre in his brain. An underling reads the fax and rushes to the
boss. `This guy says he's no longer interested in money; he wants
enlightenment. What program should we install?' The boss glances
quickly at the fax. `It's the same program: Acquisition.'
It is very hard to find a way of being active
that is not self-centred, that is not ultimately selfish. The cynic
argues: `Doing good gives you pleasure, makes you feel good, so
it is just another pleasuer-seeking activity and, therefore, basically
selfish.' The argument can be hard to counter, but there is a way
out of the quandary: serving-the-task. A carpenter may finish
the underside of a chair even though he will receive no more money
for doing so and his customers don't care. He does it because it
feels called for. His motivation is not in the service of
the survival self, but a response to a sense of wholeness or of
need. True service, the kind that opens the doors of perception,
is of this type.
Serving-the-task requires a balance of instrumental
and receptive modes for optimum effectiveness. Instrumental consciousness
is needed to act, but receptive consciousness allows access to subtle
information derived from the unified, connected aspects of the world.
This helps sense the way a particular action would fit the situation
in tis less obvious aspects. The experience of `being in the zone'
reported by athletes, or the `good hour' experienced by psychotherapists,
is probably based on an optimum balance of the two modes.(2)
Persons performing service in a major way are very aware
of the difference between self-consciously `doing good' versus serving-the-task,
doing what is called for. The former can lead to burn-out, or self-inflation,
whereas the latter energizes and connects. The difference between
the two types was summarized for me by a physician who established
a medical clinic in Tibet:
There's three kinds of people --- I don't know if I can say it
right --- there's the one who's walking on the beach and he sees
a beer can on the beach and he looks around and makes sure everybody's
watching and picks up the beer can and throws it away. . . . The
second kind of person is walking on the beach, sees the beer can
thrown on the beach, but there's nobody around but he still picks
it up and throws it in the garbage can because he knows God is
watching. Then there's the third kind of person who's walking
along the beach, sees the beer can, throws it in the garbage and
doesn't care who is watching just because that's what needs to
be done. I guess it's that third kind of motivation that's not
ego-directed that one seeks. It's hard to get there. . .
interviewed twenty-four service providers almost of whom gave evidence
that people who serve-the-task experience a sense of connection
to something larger than themselves. Their reports are very consistent.
Here is a representative statement from a man who founded an organization
providing care for AIDS sufferers. He spoke of the develpment of
capacity to serve-the-task, and the change in the experience of
the slef that accompanies it:
. . . a self-conscious highly moralized `doing-good' is very
far from the place that I recognize as valuable. . . When I'm
more self-consciously helping it's usually because I'm in a survival
mode. . . . What's going through my mind is fundamentally different.
. . [In true service] I'm not serving myself, there is not that
aspect to it, or wanting to get brownie points for Heaven. . .
`Doing what needs to be done' is the way I used to say it to the
Shanti volunteers. . . There's an extension of self that occurs
. . an exentsion of my self to include the other person. What's
in his best interest is in my best inerests . . an evolution
goes on from doing things to the patient or the person
you serve, to doing things with the person you serve, to
doing things as the person you serve. There's an extension
of myself to include the other person. . . . You're serving something
greater and deeper than the person in front of you, knowing that
person will benefit as a consequence if you can get to this place.
[When serving-the-task] we've allowed our personalities, our
egos, to move from the driver's seat to the backseat. And what's
sitting in front is your highest self and my highest self. And
that's what's connected . . . we allowed our higher selves
to emerge . . . who I was serving was a lot more than just the
human being in front of me.
Another service provider,
a management consultant to non-profit
organization, also commented on the experience of the connection:
I feel that connection is real. I think it's not just the two
people connectiong. I think it's the two people connecting to
whatever this is . . . there's a feeling of a larger connectedness
than just between two people.
Almost the same words are used
by a physician who founded an organization that provides support
for cancer patients. She said she knows when something is really
It's a sense of connection that you have to something beyond
the moment when you do that. . . . It's like seeing both of you
as part of a much larger process that has no beginning and no
experience of connection can be very helpful to the service provider.
A man who heads a hospice describes his experience:
I see in the midst of this that I am caring for
myself in taking care of this other person, that I don't have such
a feeling of separation in this world. When I'm standing at arm's
length from this person, trying to keep their separate existence,
I feel continually isolated and fragmented in a way. Whereas when
I let it in, include it in my life, I don't have that feeling of
fragmentation or separation so much anymore.
testimony for connection among people who serve-the-task is striking
and compelling. If we grant the possibility that the experience
of connection reflects what is real, the importance of service in
the mystical tradition makes perfect sense. When a server can lessen
the dominance of the survival self --- her `ego needs' --- she can
then experience a different organization of consciousness, one that
is responsive to connectedness. Through that connectedness she experiences
a different, larger sense of self. What stands in the way of our
accepting such testimony is the invisible nature of that connection;
It is not perceptible by vision or touch. The closest some servers
can come to describing the quality of the experience is to speak
of `energy' :
Some kind of current goes through the space you're in . . . you
can really feel this flow happening. Whether it's energy or current
or what it is, but I definitely know when it's happening . . .
The connection is at an energetic level . . . it's like food
for the emotional or nervous system that really is a tangible
I felt very connected to the men I was sitting next to, and in
fact there was almost a literal electric charge that was passing
back and forth between us . . .
nature of the connection cannot be specified, at least so far. But
the testimony of the mystical literature, referred to earlier, says
that the connection is real --- not an illusion.
I do not know if energy is an accurate
metaphor for the connectedness to which these people gain access,
but their consensus suggests that they are experienceing something
real as a consequence of the change in their motivation, in their
guiding intention, a change that lessens the power of the survival
self to determine consciousness. The functional understanding of
mysticism that I have proposed makes this effect of serving-the-task
understandable and inites these service experiences with the classical
This balanced interplay between
modes may be what Yeats was referring to when he described Michelangelo's
Like a spider moving upon the water
His mind moves upon silence ( Yeats, 1951, pp.
are now in a postion to appreciate the straightforward nature of
mystical knowlege. This knowledge does not require living in a monastery,
wearing foreign clothing, sitting cross-legged in meditation, burning
incense or chanting sutras. Exotic practices are not essential,
they may even be barriers if they lead practitioners to imagine
they are `advanced', or being `spiritual', thus reinforcing survival
self consciousness. What is required is a shift from a consciousness
focused on the disconnected aspect of reality to a mode of consciousness
responsive to its connected aspects. Although we may be intellectually
persuaded that a unified world exists, the difficulty is to experience
that world, not just to believe it. That experience is the goal
Far from being esoteric, mystics propose
the most modern, and at the same time the most ancient instruction
for effective functioning and a fulfilled life: `know thyself'.
But the Self of which mystics speak is often capitalized to indicate
it is different from, and superordinate to, the self of which we
are usually conscious. Mystics teach a way of attaining that knowledge
of Self. The procedures of meditation, renunciation and service
that mystics employ are not really mysterious, just radically different
from our usual object-oriented, instrumental approach.
Thousands of books of philosophy line
the shelves of our libraries without one book providing a satisfactory
answer to the fundamental question `What is the meaning of life?'
No verbal answer has ever sufficed --- thus the thousands of books.
The problem is that the mode of consciousness that asks the question
is not the mode of consciousness that can hear the answer. When
Job questions the meaning of his life his comforters offer logic
and words --- to no avail. Job finally is satisfied only by seeing
(experiencing) Jehovah, not just hearing about Him.
Judging by the reports those who serve-the-task,
service can provide a non-verbal answer also. I say this because
for people who serve in that way, the question of the meaning of
life no longer arises. That non-verbal experience is what mysticism
is about. With this in mind, we can now understand why the basic
instruction of the mystical traditions is to `forget the self'.
To forget the self is not a matter of morality, goodness, or sainthood,
but a matter of access to the connected aspects of the world and
to a different, more extended experience of the self. `Forgetting
the self' is not easy, but mystics have developed ways of facilitating
that process. The various techniques and activities of the mystical
traditions may appear exotic, but they can be understood as a way
of going beyond the limitations of instrumental, self-centred, consciousness.
Such a development is more important
now than ever before. When we consider the problems that confront
us --- sociological, environmental, and technological --- we can
see that ameliorating and solving these problems will require a
shift in which connected, other-centred consciousness becomes more
dominant. Because of this, the further progress and survival of
the human race may depend on that very shift in consciousness to
which the mystical traditions are devoted. For this reason alone,
as well as for achieving a more profound understanding of reality,
the mystical traditions deserve our study and close attention.
 For a detailed description
of the experiment and an analysis of the data, see Tart (1990),
 See also Csikszentmihaly (1957).