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It has been noted how certain drugs such as LSD and DMT can confuse the brain and provide hallucinogenic experiences that sometimes make people feel that they are enlightened or have met God (read about Paul McCartney’s experiences).
Several brain areas have been identified as being responsible for paranormal experiences.
- TPJ in the Parietal Lobe – malfunctions in this area can result in Out-of-Body Experiences (OOBE’s), or feeling the presence of ghosts in the room.
- Malfunctions in the Anterior Insula (AI) can manifest as the strong feeling of certainty, similar to the spiritual feeling of knowing that you have found God. Epileptic seizures have been known to cause these type of error conditions in the AI.
- Brain seizures in the Occipetal or Temporal Lobes may result in the person seeing an aura before experiencing an epileptic fit or a migraine headache. Similarly, a seizure in the Uncus or olefactory lobe can be preceded by the person smelling a strong odour. Deep meditation can result in the person perceiving divine sounds, scents or inner visions, all of which can be due to glitches in the brain or cross-talk between nerve pathways (synesthesia).
- Slowing of time (Tachypsychia) – the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus.
- Hearing voices in ones head – can be a symptom of schizophrenia. There are odd situations; one I remember was a Welsh farmer who heard a voice in his head saying “I am the paraclete” (he didn’t even know what a paraclete was!) and to become a doctor and help the sick in India.
The reason for pointing this out is not to explain away all spiritual experiences or altered states of consciousness as due to brain malfunctions. The machinery does malfunction at times, so it is important to understand what is a malfunction, and what is an unusual spiritual experience.