About the book
`Enlightenment' (or `Self-realisation') is a phenomenon which finds frequent mention in the spiritual context, but how far does the existence of such a state tally with modern science? Is it at all scientifically possible for such a state to exist? Can there be life without the ego, a state in which, as the sage Ramana Maharshi said, `the mind is dead'? If so, can a person discharge his normal duties in life in such a state?
So far, science has said a solid no to the existence of any such condition. No such state has been described in the text-books of medicine or psychology. Science has been unable to explain a state devoid of the ego, where normal life can continue. But now Nitin Trasi, in his book `THE SCIENCE OF ENLIGHTENMENT' shows how such a state can be fully and most satisfactorily explained in scientific terms - an explanation which he also reconciles with conventional spiritual teachings. This is a remarkable book in that it gives, perhaps for the very first time, a mystic's own inside account of the phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation and yet does so in a totally scientific, astoundingly rational way, aided no doubt by the fact that the writer himself is a medical doctor. It defines these phenomena in precise scientific terms, gives a detailed and in-depth psychological description of these states, and tells what actually happens in the mind in the course of these phenomena. Traditional beliefs are put in a rational perspective and spiritual terms are explained in a simple but scientific way.
The author also dispels many of the myths surrounding these topics, and gives a clear differentiation between states of trance and the state of Liberation. The traditional paths of bhakti, karma and jnana are elucidated with great clarity. The philosophy of different sages and traditions, from Advaita to Buddhism, Sufism to Christianity, Tao to Zen, Kabir to Krishna-murti, are all perfectly blended into one continuous stream to form a veritable `philosophia perennis.' Finally, this book gives convincing, practical answers to all the commonly recurring questions of the average spiritual enthusiast (`seeker'). In general, a primer and at the same time a complete encyclopaedia of spirituality, scientifically written, and yet so simply presented that even a spiritual novice can easily make the most of it. A must-read for all researchers in science and religion.
1. Me' and the `Other'
3. Spiritual Knowledge and its pursuit
6. The Guru
7. Death and After8. What should `I' do?
9. Karma, Bhakti and Jnana Marga
12. Questions and Answers Who's Who Glossary Bibliography Index
Chapter 1 : This book is a scientific study of spirituality, and as a starting point we have taken the core of the teaching of all the sages over the centuries, which is that Consciousness is one, in other words, we are not separate psychological entities. It is only man that suffers from this unique delusion of being a separate, autonomous entity, of `having' a `soul.' How did this come to be? We find that it is the combined result of his symbolic way of thinking, language, and ability to think of past and future, and fear of death. Symbolic thinking gives him the ability to symbolize and conceptualize `himself' as a separate entity over and above the body-mind, and the fear of future death and annihilation gives him the incentive and reason to thus conceptualize. And so in his rejection of death, is born the idea of the separate soul or ego, which is considered to have existed as a separate entity even before the birth of that body-mind, and which will survive after its disintegration. Occasionally, a rare human being sees through this illusion, and such a person is then said to be illumined or Enlightened.
Chapter 2 : psychological suffering is shown to be related to this idea of being a separate entity. This idea leads to unnecessary conditioning, which in turn leads to unnecessary thinking, and avoidable (psychological) suffering. The Enlightened person, on the other hand, undergoes a process of deconditioning leading eventually to his Liberation (from unnecessary suffering).
Chapter 3 : The idea of Liberation is dangled before the eyes of the common man by most religions as a sort of a panacea for all the ills of this world, and he is encouraged to pursue it as a goal. Thus begins the seeking of Enlightenment by the person. for `himself' as an entity. As Enlightenment is, in fact, the realization that he is NOT a separate entity, these very efforts thus become self-defeating, for such me-based efforts inevitably reinforce and perpetuate the illusion of the `me.' This is the paradox of spiritual effort. Common spiritual terminology is discussed from a scientific perspective.
Chapter 4 : Enlightenment is defined as the intuitive under-standing that one is not a separate entity. The characteristics of Enlightenment are discussed, and its psychological, physiological and anatomic aspects.
Chapter 5 : `Liberation' is the end result of the process of deconditioning initiated by Enlightenment. What are the characteristics of a Liberated person? How does he act and react? What does he do in life after Liberation? What does he think? How is his sleep? What does he dream? How does he see the world? What is his relationship with God? These and other questions are discussed, including the scientific aspects, brain waves, and awareness. Mysticism and modern science (especially quantum physics) are shown to converge and so merge imperceptibly that it is often difficult to distinguish one from the other. Space and time are both seen as illusions, and consciousness is no more merely a function of the brain. It is seen as all-encompassing, all-inclusive.
Chapter 6 : Is a guru required? How exactly can he help? How does one select the proper guru ? What must be the attitude of the seeker towards the guru?
Chapter 7 : What happens after death? If there is no soul in reality, then what survives after death? And why do the religions insist on life after death? What is rebirth and who is reborn? Revolutionary as the idea (that there is no separate individual `soul') may seem, it is shown that this is exactly what the sages and even traditional scriptures have been trying to say.
Chapter 8 : The practical aspect - what is one to do actual-ly? The second part dealing with the spontaneous processes is only of academic interest. It is included specially to point out that these are NOT directions to be actively followed, (which is how they are often misunderstood).
Chapter 9 : The previous chapter is here correlated with the traditional `margas' of karma, bhakti and jnana. The dispute over their relative merits is discussed. Chapter 10 : This chapter is on God. The common man's idea of God is first discussed, and then the reality of God as de-scribed by the mystic. The question of proving the existence of God is scientifically explored, and also the question of the reason for the existence of the universe. Finally, as a sample, the descriptions given by two well-known mystics of India are presented in some detail.
Appendix : The doctrine of Advaita is compared with the thesis outlined in this book. The matter of paranormal phenomena, miracles, telepathy, faith healing, instances of `reincarnation' etc. are discussed in the light of our thesis, and it is shown that all these can be convincingly and satisfactorily explained in a scientific way. Nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja sthithi are discussed, as also meditative techniques. Finally some commonly asked questions are answered.