Trans-Spirit list a transhumanist research program into religion and spirituality. It seeks to understand religion and spirituality in terms of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, and to project the future of religion and spirituality in the dawning transhuman era.
Abolitionist SocietyPromotes eliminating involuntary suffering and increasing lifelong individual happiness through science
Cyborg Buddha Project
IEET Executive Director James Hughes - a former Buddhist monk and attenuated Buddho-Unitarian - is writing a book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha: Using Neurotechnology to Become Better People.
IEET Board member Mike LaTorra - a Zen priest and author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao - runs the Trans-Spirit list promoting discussion of neurotheology, neuroethics, techno-spirituality and altered states of consciousness.
The three of us are launching the IEET Cyborg Buddha Project to combine our efforts and promote discussion of the impact that neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies will have on happiness, spirituality, cognitive liberty, moral behavior and the exploration of meditational and ecstatic states of mind.
Dr. Patricia Churchland is UC President’s Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of California, San Diego. He popular books such as “Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality” grapple with issues at the intersection of philosophy and neuroscience. In this interview, Dr. Churchland explains how the evolution of the mammalian brain may have influenced our underlying core moral values, and her belief that society must be strong yet flexible enough to deal with the moral quagmire of new technologies / values / ways of living as we transition into the future.
Which brings me to my critique of mindfulness as therapy:
1. Firstly, mindfulness is not and should not be viewed as the latest cure-all for those with mental health issues. It is not a panacea. By the time the Buddha started employing it within his teachings it had already had a long history of incremental development within a broader spiritual tradition and this continued up until the end of the last century. Within this tradition it is viewed as a powerful tool designed to do to the brain what the brain specifically does not want to do, i.e. remain uninvolved with thought patterns and feelings as they pass before the practitioner.
So is there any hard evidence that mindfulness-based therapies work? Well, the clinical evidence for mindfulness as a way to prevent depression, stress and anxiety appears at first glance to be sound. A review of the eight-week course was published in 2011 in Clinical Psychology Review by Jacob Piet and Esben Hougaard of Aarhus University, Denmark.
* In my youth I trained for thirteen years as a Buddhist priest, first with the Japanese Zen tradition and then within the Tibetan tantric tradition. As such, mindfulness based meditation formed the basis of my practice, even when, later in my training, other methods began to be employed.
My interest in consciousness is in part the result of a marijuana experience I had when I was 16. To understand why, I need to provide some context.
I have always felt an uncompromising need to figure out “what all of this is about.” This goes as far back as I remember. The burning need to know has always been there. What “this” means in “what all of this is about”, has evolved over the years. It has evolved as my understanding of what reality could be has gotten bigger.
I have been mapping out the major axis of the states of consciousness accessible by humans via the use of psychotropic drugs.
My procedure is: I asked people from all sorts of drug forums online, as well as people in the general population, to answer a survey in which they are required to rate the effects of a drug they have taken (rating them on 30+ attributes such as “cheerful”, “calming” and “mystical”). You can read the methodology and the details of the analysis in here.
Research from the School of Psychology and Counseling at Queensland University of Technology in Australia identified 700 apps associated with “mindfulness” on either iTunes and Google Apps Marketplace. Inclusion criteria was stringent; only apps that cost less than $10 were included.
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The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.
East Coast Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA
Email: director @ ieet.org phone:
West Coast Contact: Managing Director, Hank Pellissier
425 Moraga Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
Email: hank @ ieet.org