How can we say our spiritual experiences are not just chemical reactions?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJune 16, 2013

Answer Podcast

Transcription By: Sudha Mehta Mataji (From Bosnia)

Edited By: HG Murlidhar Prabhu (Murli Thundi)

Question: How can we know that our spiritual experiences are not just chemical reactions?

Answer: Because those spiritual experiences produce transformations not just in our mental states but also in our behavioural traits and these transformations in and off themselves are almost impossible to produce just by some chemical reactions and changes.

To explain this we need to understand that when we are in the material world everything that happens, happens thru the material level of reality. So right now although the soul is spiritual the soul’s consciousness is locked in the material level of reality. It’s like a person watching a virtual reality show or a movie and so absorbed in that show that the person is oblivious that there is the whole world around him or her. The person is completely lost, trapped we could say, in the virtual reality; similarly the soul is spiritual and the soul has the capacity for spiritual perceptions and spiritual experiences directly independent of the material body and the mind. But because of the false ego which causes identification with the body and the mind, the soul’s consciousness is currently locked in the body and mind and that’s why at present the soul cannot experience nearly anything independent of the body and the mind. So at our level of consciousness, even when we experience the spiritual stimuli it is rooted through the body and the mind. Hence when we chant Hare Krishna and experience some happiness then that will also involve the activation of the certain areas of the brain, secretions of certain chemicals of the brain, the firing of certain neurons in the brain. But spiritual experiences, though they do occur at the neuronal level in the brain, they are not limited to the neuronal level. All other experiences are basically material stimuli producing material reactions and they are entirely at the material level of consciousness. But spiritual experiences though they are rooted through the brain and through the mind which are material, they ultimately reach the soul and awaken the soul and that’s how they are spiritual?

It is like the virtual reality, which a person is hooked to, showing the room in which that person actually is; may be that person has a friend sitting right next door to him and that friend turns and enters into the virtual reality and beckons and the person attention gets attracted; so the friend is right now within the virtual reality but the friend is not just another character from the virtual reality; the friend has real existence beyond the virtual reality as does the viewer of the virtual reality; but through the virtual reality that person is now brought back to actual reality.

Similarly Krishna descends in the material world and manifests stimuli in this world thru the holy name; it is a transcendental sound but when we vibrate, it manifest to us through the same senses that we use for vibrating other sounds. However this is not a sound of this world. It doesn’t refer to an object or person of this world since the sound and the person referred to are both transcendental. Its like Krishna manifesting himself as a friend in the virtual reality show of this world and the virtual reality viewers sees the friend in the virtual reality and then  gradually remembers that he has a life beyond and has a friend beyond the virtual reality and thus gradually the person awakens.

Similarly whatever we experience it will be experienced through the brain only and there will be chemical reactions even when we have some spiritual experiences but spiritual experiences bring about a transformation that is nearly impossible by any other means. It means we become free from material attractions “bhaktih paresanubhavoviraktiranyatra”; by the practise of bhakti we experience God,pareshanubhava and viraktiranyatra,we become free from attachments to things apart from God and to things which take us away from god. So by chanting HARE KRISHNA people become free from addictions and attachments that often are very difficult for even the best medical practices to cure. So how’s this possible?

If what we call as “real medicine” finds it difficult to free people from addictions, then how it is that just some chemical reactions can free us? Well chemical reactions can be caused by some other medicines also but they won’t free us from addictions; but the chanting of the holy names and the cultivation of Krishna consciousness actually gives us connections with the higher reality and that higher reality is so satisfying and enriching that we no longer feel the need for lower pleasures and that is how we become free from material addictions.

In this way philosophically and experientially we can understand that the spiritual experiences are not just chemical reactions. Philosophically we understand that the spiritual manifest through the material and so there will be chemical reactions in the brain when we have spiritual experiences and yet there is a higher reality from which the spiritual experiences originate and towards which the spiritual experiences take us. Secondly, by these spiritual experiences we become detached not just from one or two material things but gradually we become detached from the things that are addictive and very difficult to give up and gradually we rise to an entirely higher spiritual level of reality.

In this way we can understand that our spiritual experiences are not just chemical reactions.

Thank you

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das
1 Comments
  • Vaishakh R
    December 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Prji, PAMHO.
    I had this doubt for quite some time.Thank you very much for this answer. It helps me understand that the transformation in an individual is how we understand the spiritual nature of the Holy Names.
    Hare Krishna.

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