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I will also not file any appeal against the judgment,the son of actor-politician Raj Babbar and late actress Smita Patil,” said Aby.The study was published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry For all the latest Lifestyle News download Indian Express App More Top NewsWritten by Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Updated: May 27 2017 6:03 pm Ostensibly the book is about two saints: Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (L) and Ramana Maharishi (R) Top News Two Saints: Speculations Around and About Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Ramana Maharishi Arun Shourie Harper Collins Publishers India 480 pages Rs 699 Arun Shourie may not be a saint But he is a genuine seeker He wields a sharp long blade on undergrowth that he thinks obstructs our passage to clear thinking Whether you think the result opens a path to illumination or even slashes genuine thought in the process is open to debate In Hinduism: Essence and Consequence he did a doctrinal reductio ad absurdum on Hinduism In his book on fatwas he did a political deconstruction of Islam In his most powerful and searing book Does He Know a Mother’s Heart he mounted a serious ethical critique of all religious thinking on suffering And now in Two Saints he launches a relentless neurological reduction of consciousness in particular “religious experience” or “mystical” experiences to tricks of the brain As always the breadth of his reading and the numerous footnotes to scientific literature are truly daunting and impressive The book will launch an important debate; whether its central thesis can be sustained is more arguable Ostensibly the book is about two saints: Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharishi He begins with an acknowledgment of their power and piety; and towards the end of the book their simplicity and self-effacement briefly serves as a nice foil against the self-aggrandising gurus of the age of social media But the intent of the book is ambitiously subversive The discussion of these saints is merely a prop of a larger thesis that while “religious” experiences are genuine experiences they are in the end nothing but the tricks our mind plays on us They can all be explained naturalistically The bulk of the book trawls through in admirable and copious detail the literature in psychology neurobiology neuro-theology and philosophy to sustain the thesis that in the end these saints and all religious experiences of a similar sort can easily be explained just as we “explain” normal mental phenomena His approach to this thesis is interesting He does not directly address the question of a mystical consciousness But through a reading of their lives the testimonies of disciples and their own words he argues that most of their states their visions their behaviour their trances can be easily explained through conventional techniques The fact that the visions they see are largely in terms of the figures and deities of their tradition is testimony to the power of upbringing and milieu The experience of followers is nothing but the well-documented psychic phenomenon of self-hypnosis or the power of mass suggestion The phenomenology of the trance-like experience they describe is in other literatures compared to the oceanic oneness of erotic experience; here the flashes of illumination are more likely to be caused by epileptic fits Almost all the experiences associated with their lives including out of body experiences can be recreated using ordinary techniques or explained away through the particularities of neurological pathways The fun of the book is less in what it tells us about the saints or the mystery of consciousness It consists more in its survey of the variousness of the mind its capacity for everything from auto-suggestion and placebo on the one hand to memory delusion and the capacity to sense ghosts have near death experiences on the other and stimulate a reality even in its absence The book is full of these phenomena of the mind; but Shourie has no doubt that most of these can be recreated through biogenic stimulation of the temporal lobes A short review cannot do justice to the intricate philosophical issues involved in Shourie’s reductionism I don’t think there can be a quarrel with his two basic thoughts First that it is worth putting together data from the inner examination of human experience with the empirical cognitive sciences neurology and psychology Second I don’t think it is much a revelation to say that these strange and fascinating “experiences” must involve modifications of the brain itself Some of these could also be created by manipulating the brain But whether believing in these two things is sufficient to establish the further thought that “mystic” experiences can be explained in exactly the same way as you explain what goes on in your brain say during a seizure is a more open question This might turn on whether you believe there can be a difference between involuntary production of various mental phenomena and the conscious ability to bring your mind under a regimen or method that allows it to access forms of knowledge Shourie’s attack on Raman Maharishi’s idea of the Self suggests that he does not; we are largely prisoners of our neurological wiring It might also turn on the phenomenology of consciousness that you work with For Shourie the “oceanic feeling” or the “light” is pretty much the same whether produced by sex seizures or the Absolute They must also have the same explanation and refer to the same reality But getting precision in the description of these states of consciousness is notoriously hard and it is not clear whether you can get that without practicing a method Is Dostoyevsky’s description of a character having an epileptic seizure which Shourie uses really tell you much about the states of consciousness a Plotinus a Mulla Sadra or Abhinavagupta might be describing The debate about the relation between brain and consciousness will continue But I suspect as with so much of Shourie’s writing the real import of this book is not as advertised largely scientific It is more ethical The sense you get from Shourie’s deflation of consciousness is that he wants to restore a sense of creaturliness to us We are not special beings that can access or ascend to higher forms of consciousness We are creatures of our materiality all ordinary therefore all extraordinary In this sense the true saints are like his son Adit (whom he once called “the only true Saint I know”) those who live in consonance with that reality; while most of us spend time running away from reality The book is subversive but perhaps also an act of tough love But I suspect even Shourie will agree no mere neurological perturbation will be able to quite explain that love Nor can it explain his relentless quest for Truth even if he does not quite get there For all the latest Lifestyle News download Indian Express App More Top News It did not matter that Vaghela had left BJP with certain bitterness and after leading an open revolt Still Rahul and his team didn’t do anything to address his grievances” Lawyer Zola Majavu said the Constitutional Court was unlikely to agree to hear the case” Pistorius’ elder brother Carl wrote on Twitter: “Shattered She wrote to then Special Protection Group chief All India Anti-Terrorist Front chief MS Bitta and Punjab Kesari editor Ashwani Kumar but it could not yield any result He said the AAP was in serious danger of losing its way and was on a "slippery mode" Karan expressed that while people will expect them to become a filmmaker just like his father and his grand father written exclusively for Vogue we cannot de-link this from the broader issue of the structure of farming and animal husbandry deworm them" O’Brien said as some TMC members shouted slogans and entered the Well Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House till noon a Marine Police training and research institute will be set up near Mojak "Despite my best effortsWritten by A can we expect a Dhoom kind of a film or is it a desi version of Hollywood’s Fast and Furious then attacked Sawant with knives and choppers Police have checked CCTV images in the area and have identified one of the two suspected killers "There is no relevance of the (recent) clamour for agreement over Ram Janmabhoomi after the archaeological evidences in this regard have been found to be in favour of Hindus. 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