Thursday, January 26, 2006

God in us

This is an interesting story on Wired
Mattieu Ricard, a French-born monk from the Shechen Monastery in Katmandu is meditating at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior with electrodes on his head.

Ricard was asked to meditate on "unconditional loving-kindness and compassion." The research equipments noticed powerful gamma activity - brain waves oscillating at roughly 40 cycles per second - indicating intensely focused thought. Gamma waves are usually weak and difficult to see. Those emanating from Ricard were easily visible, even in the raw EEG output. Moreover, oscillations from various parts of the cortex were synchronized - a phenomenon that sometimes occurs in patients under anesthesia.

The researchers had never seen anything like it. They brought in more monks, as well as a control group of college students inexperienced in meditation. The monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times as strong as the students'. In addition, larger areas of the meditators' brains were active, particularly in the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions.

Humans have the ability to develop brain functions through intensive training. With this experiment researchers at the Waisman Laboratory showed that this potential extends to emotional centers as well. Emotions are an important element in all interaction. Unconditional Loving-Kindness and Compassion may be one of the rare non-monetarised resources and aspects of human interaction. The modern western societies have three dominant value regimes - the family, the market and the state. If you are lucky you may sometimes recognize Unconditional Loving-Kindness and Compassion within your family. As an rare relick I have seen and heard it also in politics where it related to some intergenerational issues. Unconditional Loving-Kindness and Compassion can be a weak remaining sign of the origins of us humans and our mission on the earth. If we were created in God’s image, those Gamma waves may lead to something important!

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