Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Welcome to "Mind Link." It's a fictional tale about a theologian
who blended modern psychological material with pneumatology--
the study of the Spirit. It's a foray into how the Spirit might
interact with the human mind. It's perhaps an approach, also,
about how the Spirit moves in the world, through our conscious

In order to follow the story, please go to the very last post--the
"Introduction" and then move forward.

(2) Evensong

Beyond the complexities of Neurotheology, too, I started fiddling
about moving into the issues of out-of-body (OBE) and near-death
experiences (NDE). Just dreaming, I suppose, but I thought that
somehow these experiences might somehow connect with the
budding scholarly study of reincarnation. Incredible, but scientists
and psychologists are rapidly delving more and more into these
issues. And as more scientific data is acquired about these subjects,
well surely the theologian will have to address such.

All my life I have been predisposed towards the idea of reincarnation,
ever since I experienced that vision of the monk when a youth at the
King's School. I never forgot this vision, and it cropped-up again
when I was doing my dream-work at the Jung Institute so many years
ago. It had become obvious that there was an "inner monk" dwelling
within my mind. And I pondered often if somehow this might have
helped determine my career as a theologian. I remembered about
how I had early on delved into the Benedictine Tradition, discovered
my hero St. Anselm of Canterbury, and thence forward sailed into my
own quest--Seeking God--trying to understand how the Spirit works
within us.

So, with these thoughts in mind, I have often thought about my own
past life vision, about the sad monk who (for whatever reason) had
to leave his beloved Canterbury. I oft think of him when I attend
Evensong services in the cathedral. Several times a week I walk
over to the cathedral, sit in the choir, and bathe myself in the beautiful
evening service of lilting music and psalmody.

And during one such service, I suddenly realized that--yes--I had
brought that monk home! I had brought that monk to rest. And I was
at peace!

(1) Evensong

Chapter Nine. EVENSONG

As time moved along, it became clear that Ellen assured my
being "plugged-in" at the university here in Canterbury. It was
a nice blend of the studious and the social. We also enjoyed
concerts and public events provided by the King's School as
well. I felt a certain pleasure, in that I had a life here in
Canterbury that all around was not at all burdensome.

I still had plenty of time for solitude and reflection. It had become
obvious that the issue of Neurotheology would not go away.
Just in a year's time more and more scientists were publishing
articles on the subject. Not many theologians, however. I still
had my reservations plunging into this field, though Ellen was
beginning to educate me--somewhat.

However, this very issue caused me to pause to ponder, to reflect,
reviewing altogether my lifetime efforts towards linking our mind
with the Spirit--or that Greater Mind, if more comfortably put.

Though I had taught in Claremont's School of Religion, that was
not to say that I was traditionally religious. All through my career
I had remained a "nondenominational" theologian! Still, as a child
of the West, I could not deny that the concepts of the Christ, later
the Pantocrator, and ultimately the Spirit most definitely colored my
writings. I just as easily could have stuck with the Logos-Pneuma
of ancient Greek philosophy. To be truthful, I saw these two
conceptual infrastructures mainly as a Continuum of religio-
philosophical thought. Studying such, I could also trace the
evolution of this thought moving towards ever greater

And I guess my excitement about how this Continuum connected,
indeed communicated, with the human mind utterly energized me.
As for the findings of Cognitive Science, well this opened up yet
another door--in that I believed that the "seeds" of evolutionary
development of the brain were already there from the beginning
of humanity's long trek forward. Though I would not yet write down
my thoughts in any serious publication, I liked to think that somehow
all this development--embedded in a strangely wonderful Freedom--
portends a strangely wonderful Completion. Maybe not at all
connected with our current religio-philosophical concepts, there
still seems an "Omega Point" in our future.

So, perhaps my life's work as a free-thinking theologian might be
part and parcel where God's finger is pointing. Over human history
there have been plateau following after plateau when it comes to
our concepts about God--and it would seem that we are on the brink
of yet another plateau that involves science, cognitive studies as
well as new psychologies. The Future beckons!

(4) Neurotheology

Surreptitiously I was somewhat glad that I was finding Neurotheology
so difficult to settle in my mind. Professionally I wasn't about to
engage in sheer speculation, though I was not adverse to developing
reasonable hypotheses. And this definitely meant lots of "academic"
hand-holding with Ellen!

And truth be said, I had never met a woman with whom I was so
at ease. Ours had turned into a cheerful relationship. And more
importantly, she had become a special person in my life. So,
naturally, I was delighted to spend more and more time with her!

Over my years I had been content being a "natural" solitary. And
though I had women friends, I never thought much about involved
relationships or marriage. It simply was not in the cards, so to
speak. But Ellen proved to be of a different quality. Allowing
myself to muse, I sometimes almost felt she might be my soul-mate.
Are there such possibilities? Or was I indulging in magical thinking?
Oh well, no harm done--hopefully.

However, I didn't let my magical thinking take hold too much. I
might dream, but I had to face the reality that I was much older
than Ellen--indeed, old enough to be her father. Still, I didn't
view her as a daughter. Rather she was becoming the important
*woman* in my life! Consequently over time, I learned simply to
let be. I wouldn't avoid the relationship, nor would I try to manipulate
or control it.

So Ellen and I have plodded along, happy together, taking pleasure
in one another's company, trying ever to get a better grip on the issues
brought forth by Neurotheology.

(3) Neurotheology

Anyway, theologians have long considered a spiritual territory that
they call the "Imaginal Realm." Even some scientists have considered
such, some even calling it the "Psi World." There's a recognition that
there is a realm of Mind/mind that involves a Greater Reality than
that with which we can normally view or connect. The emphasis is
on "normally." Many of the majority in the field of Neurotheology tend
to deny the Imaginal Realm.

This whole business boils down to Insight that, in turn is based on a
combination of intuition, sense, feeling when it comes to relating to
the Imaginal Realm. Religious or spiritual mystics have long claimed
that they have broken through to this special realm--oft giving it
different names to correspond with their personal religious doctrine
or spiritual inclinations.

Regardless, the Imaginal Realm falls into paranormal bailiwicks.
Entering into this realm involves visions, locutions, ecstatic states,
and peak experiences. And Neurotheology, because of recent
technological developments, can monitor the brain when the mind
seemingly is engaged in these special experiences.

Therefore, the only approach I might manage was the "both/and"
view that our brain is necessary to the mind--that our brain had
finally evolved to a physical level where it could help accommodate
our mind that, in turn, is ever moving towards a steadily finer,
sophisticated level of thought and conceptualization. Boiled down,
it was about evolution.

Happily, I have never had any problem with the topic of evolution.
Within my own studies into the mind, working to relate such to the
idea of the Spirit, and how such dwells and works within us, I have
had no trouble viewing the steadily developing evolutionary scale
towards ever greater sophistication. And surely this would mean
that our brain need become ever more sophisticated in order to be
a helpmate to our evolving mental conceptualizations about God
and Spirit, about the Logos-Pneuma.

Still I felt myself stuck in a muddle when it came to formulating my
thoughts around Neurotheology. It was obvious that I would have to
spend a lot of time with Ellen, who had asked me to be a co-author
of a book she was planning to write on the subject of Neurotheology.
All I could hope for was that she might help me become more clear
in my thinking about all this.

(2) Neurotheology

Delving slowly into Neurotheology, I realized that it was sometimes
more like a minefield than a bog. Though only around for a few
years, this new theological field was sparking enough controversy
that people were taking different sides of a debate, applying different
interpretations,and even invoking name-calling. "Scientism" was
encroaching on Religion, etc., etc.

Still, it was hard to ignore this emerging field. High technology had
enabled scientists to literally picture the live brain, identifying brain
sectors that were active--or crackling or sparking--when it came to
a person's experience that could be deemed mystical or spiritual in

The majority scientific position was to presume that the brain's
wiring prompted these special experience, whether visions,
locutions, ecstatic states, or peak experiences. It was the brain,
alone, that initiated these noetic states of mind. Of course there
was a minority opinion as well, mainly coming from theologians
and religious authorities. They usually just decided to ignore the
field of Neurotheology altogether.

On the other hand there was this steadily accruing data that
definitely illustrated the brain's involvement when it came to
experiencing a special spiritual state (of mind). I put "mind" in
brackets, because the main question revolving around Neuro-
theology is whether the mind is an altogether different entity than
the brain. If so, how so?

It's at this point we begin wandering into a bog. Different sides of the
issue cling to their specific interpretations. As for my approach, I felt
more belonging to the "both/and" category. I could only venture an
opinion, which was that we are both embodied and mental beings
and thus the brain must work in tandem with the mind.

(1) Neurotheology


It took awhile settling in Canterbury. I bought a place not too
far from the town center and the cathedral. But the old house
really needed a makeover. Consequently, I took advantage
making the interior the way I wanted it. After taking all my book
collection out of storage, I finally had a study to shelve them
quite nicely--even had a rolling ladder to reach the higher
shelving. I also had the carpenters build me a nice snug
office off to the side of my study. All I needed was a pipe to go
along sitting by the fireplace. But, fortunately, I didn't smoke.
So my stereotypical ideas about the contented scholar met their

In the midst of all this makeover, I somehow managed to
complete a draft of the "Majestic Meme"--sending it off to my
publisher. At last, I actually had some spare time in which to
sit and enjoy my study. But sitting in front of the fireplace had
its limits as well. After about a week I was bored silly doing
nothing. So I started prowling around amongst my books,
trying to figure whether there was a future project at hand.

But Fate stepped in, and once again I had a challenge. How
anyone could have found my new telephone number, I don't
know, since it had only been recently installed. The caller was
hopeful that I might deliver a lecture at the University of Kent
at Canterbury. It's a fairly large campus not too far from my
house. I decided to lecture on my interest in the Transpersonal,
especially about the peak experience.

As it turned out, that was a fortuitous choice on my part. After my
presentation and questions, I was approached by a very intelligent
looking woman. She was the head of a cognitive studies research
team at the university--and she was wondering whether I had done
any work in the fairly new field of Neurotheology?

Of course I was aware of Neurotheology, but I felt it more in the
bailiwick of the Neurosciences. It seemed to me this field was
more about the brain than about the mind. And, frankly, when
it came to the intricacies of the brain I stood clear. I had no
training in cognitive studies.

But the lady was persistent and invited me to her office to discuss
this subject. I was reluctant to get into Neurotheology, into what I
considered an academic bog. Yet I accepted this good lady's
invitation. Plain and simple, I liked her!

As it turned out, Ellen was a very interesting person. She did
her undergraduate work at Cambridge, and took her advanced
degree in Neuroscience--up at the Royal Infirmary that was
connected to the University of Edinburgh. So we had at least
a place in common when it came to small talk. Personally, she
was divorced but moved down to Canterbury so as to be near
her daughter who was attending the King's School.

And before I left her office that day, I had brokered a bargain
with her. She would spend some hopefully useful time with me,
trying to intelligently inform a layman (like me) about the studies
of the brain as they might apply to this whole idea of Neurotheology.