Nirvana is a  term used to describe the profound peace of mind that is acquired with liberation.  It is the state of being free from suffering.

The word literally means "blown out" (as in a candle) and refers, in the Buddhist context, to the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished. (loosely quoting Wikipedia here...)

So...I'm curious if you all believe that Atheists as a general rule are able to reach this level of liberation? Do you think it's possible for Theists to do so? Do you believe that all/most Atheists reach Nirvana? How do you know when you've reached it? Once you've reached it how do you know you'll be able to stay there? Is it just in your mind or is there more to it? What could be a scientific explanation for the state of Nirvana?....Do you believe that Nirvana is attached to any kind of religious dogma since it's roots are found in Buddhism? Isn't Buddhism a religion? If not, then why not. If you believe Nirvana is rubbish, then tell me why.

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Sure, this DMT thing I think isn't restricted to a "physical level" since it deals with consciousness. And the state of "nirvana" is often described as a colossal transformation of consciousness as is the experience of DMT.

I'd also like to add that if you were to watch a monk undergo meditation, they can instantly enter into REM. When you smoke DMT, you instantly undergo REM. Coincidence? I don't think so.

So, I think it depends on how we define the "spiritual level." You see, David Bohm had an idea that consciousness cannot be explained simply by a reductionist physical model, that it was somehow intertwined with quantum mechanics and so he espoused a kind of "quantum mind" or "quantum consciousness" explanation which was heavily influenced by J. Krishnamurti and Albert Einstein.

I'll try and give an example of what this means or at least what I think I means by quoting something posted on another atheist forum. I think it's sa-atheists.com a thread entitled "Think God." Very interesting stuff...

One person wrote: I'm with Alan Hobson in the sense that I see the mind as simply the current state of the brain - the literal physical state of the brain. The mind can change instantly because it is simply the present arrangement of the brain's collection of neurotransmitters and voltage differences. The brain can change as well, but the process takes longer - especially when it's plasticity is reduced as in old age. I see consciousness as an emergent property that arises from the interplay between the mind and the brain. If the mind or the brain can no longer change, then you will cease to be conscious.


In reply to that person, another person wrote: "Terence McKenna once said, "Consciousness rests on a chemical foundation, it is not product of it." That statement may be misleading. Steven Pinker also had an interesting comment which I'm sure I've quoted on the other thread."

"The way I think of mind is as a 4th dimensional organ of your body, you cannot see it, because it resides in a higher dimension, but you experience a sectioning of it within the phenomenon of consciousness, but that is only a partial sectioning of it in the same way a plane is a partial sectioning of a cone when it transects it."

"I agree that mind may be the current physical state of the brain, but I think there’s more to it than that. I know that quote sounds like something Stuart Hameroff might suggest, but what’s implicit here is that this emergent property of matter, what we call “consciousness” is somehow intertwined with what M-Theorists rave about, the “higher dimensions” which make up String Theory. For instance, to give an example of this “sectioning” in the quote, when you imagine, say, a tree in the daytime spring scenery, you can see it in your mind’s eye quite vividly, can't you? You can make out brilliant colours and and even almost hear the wind as it brushes against the branches and leaves. But where is this tree, really? Where is it being projected? We can’t make the analogy from the computer’s output to a monitor, you see, because the tree really isn't anywhere in your mind. If we were going to take a look at the physical brain, we wouldn’t find the tree, instead we may find certain electrical neural patterns, the breaking and forming of chemical bonds and various other fast chemistries, etc. But if we were going to use the computer analogy, then the monitor, where the image is being projected is in within this “sectioning” of hyperspace while the hardware is a direct correlate in the physical brain, they go together. So, what seems to be happening here is that the potentiality to imagine the tree was already there, perhaps had always been there. Graham Hancock had an interesting take on this issue, he said, “I don't believe that consciousness is generated in the brain any more than that television programs are made inside my tv.” So, it may be that the brain is the dipstick into this field of potentiality, and can entertain a certain degree of this potentiality, and maybe when we’ve maxed out all these permutations within our hardware, the physical brain, this is cause for the longer process of change in the brain which you mentioned, the hint at the evolution of the hardware or brain to entertain greater and greater degrees of potentiality. Of course, I don't think it would happen that way, we'd find ourselves at the frontier of genetic engineering before we evolved naturally."

Okay, so that's the end of the quote. So, I think this "sectioning in hyperspace" or perhaps the "hyperspace" itself in some way can be equated to what religious people call "spirituality" or the "spirit," etc. Because you see, as in the 11 dimensions described in M-Theory, you can think of it as a place where "all possibilities are contained." So, every point in time is connected to every other point in time such that all time becomes cotangent. If someone had "access" to this, for instance, then things like looking into the future, getting into locked boxes, finding lost keys, etc. becomes utterly un-mysterious if you hypothesize these higher dimensions. Now, I don't offer that example as something to be taken literally, just adding that to say that if that were possible, then you can see how it would remove all mystery from the so-called "supernatural" that people seemed so boggled by.

So, in conclusion, I think it's highly likely that what the monk may be doing, as Strassman speculates, is accessing DMT in a conscious state rather than taking it by smoking it or within the near-death-experience or any other time DMT is speculated to permeate the brain. This experience is so profound that God, Brahman, Yahweh, samadhi, satori, etc. wouldn't fall short of metaphors to describe this ultimate state of consciousness.

I've read somewhere that consciousness is too complex to be explained without recourse to quantum mechanics and all that higher-dimensional stuff. 

Oh, definitely. I believe that David Bohm was definitely onto something there. I mean, even if you Wiki "consciousness" it's quite hilarious that you'll find the opening statement to be, "Nothing worth reading has been written about consciousness." The thing that is so familiar to us, that accompanies us at every waking and conscious moment, yet it's one of the most mysterious things in neuroscience!

I'm not sure if that tree analogy will be understood, but I'd recommend if people are into these sort of topics, they should visit that thread at sa-atheists.com, but you may have to sign-up to view the thread. The people that post there go into this stuff at awesome depth.

Surely it's a representation of a tree, in your mind, like a mathematical model within a computer game. 

I'm not sure we can compare a computer to a brain, this may be a false analogy. I mean, there may be some similarities, but ultimately, these things are quite different. I think the tree is somehow represented in the mind by the electrical neural patterns, but you wouldn't actually find the tree. Where the tree is being projected, if you've followed Pinker's example, is within this "sectioning" of hyperspace. In other words, I think what's being described here is that consciousness is a kind of node or dipstick into a field of potentiality and can entertain potential pathways, but the trick, I think, here is that the potentiality, in some sense, was always there, had always been there, perhaps.

I think hardware and software is a good analogy. 

Haha! Well, if that's so, may I suggest you search a little video on YouTube entitled "Culture is your Operating System"?

Probably because the ego is dissolved for a little while. 

Death is the ultimate nirvana.

Literally.

But in death, there's no awareness, so it can't be a Nirvana. 

Then you don't really "get" Asian religions. Whereas in the West, the idea is to keep the soul going forever, in Asian religions from Hinduism to Buddhism what you ultimately want is a total loss of self as you are absorbed back into The One.

But the Self has a certain kind of deluded, distorted awareness: it has its own special agenda; whereas one of the goals of Nirvana is awareness without illusion. 

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