Department/School

Sociology and Anthropology

Abstract

This article applies Susan Blackmore’s model of brain self-modeling to explain how people experience altered states of consciousness in meditative religions. Against the experience vs. over-belief model put forth by William James and Wayne Proudfoot, Blackmore’s model provides a theoretical base for a social role in the formation of meditative experience itself, not just in its interpretation. Learning to meditate involves learning to attend to certain bodily and feeling states, which involves learning to construct a brain model that produces a different experience of the self. This is not just a matter of socially learned labeling, but of learning to generate authentic psycho-physical experience. Examples are drawn from the author’s study of Quakers and practitioners of the Gurdjieff Work.

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Archiv für Religionpsychologie

Publication Date

2004

Volume

26

Pages

157-180

Document Version

Preprint