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solomon levi
06-19-2012, 09:24 PM
I know this is a topic which concerns some people.
It concerns me, perhaps in a different way.
I understand that alzheimers is mainly an attack or reduction of function in
the hippocampus which is responsible for our memories, specifically the
left hippocampus is where these memories are stringed together as the story
of you, your personal history, identity.
Why this concerns/interests me, I'm sure you can guess, is that I consider that
a valid spiritual path. It'd be interesting to see the brains of people who have
aquired a rather permanent disassociation from ego-identity (non-alzheimers related).
U.G. Krishnamurti said something to the effect that we give to much emphasis to the
brain... that he didn't operate with his brain as we do... (sorry - I don't know which book
to begin to look in; you can google it as easy as me).
Anyway, there are alternative ways to view alzheimers. Why shouldn't people who are
getting old lose their memories of this life/world in preparation for the next one which
has nothing to do with the physical and personal history?
If alzheimers is a growing "problem" and not just a new label for something that has
always been happening, maybe it's a sign of the times... approaching a singularity where
consciousness is changing to less personal. Same could answer for autism and probably
other "impairments".

ALC93
06-20-2012, 07:17 PM
If alzheimers is a growing "problem" and not just a new label for something that has
always been happening, maybe it's a sign of the times... approaching a singularity where
consciousness is changing to less personal. Same could answer for autism and probably
other "impairments".

I have also thought about this idea, more in regards to autism (and the idea of the "indigo children") and to the mentally retarded than in regard to Alzheimers. In the end, I would not take the "sudden increase in autism" (and such) as a sign of the times, at least not in a spiritual sense. A large factor of the increase is due to there now being better training and ability to make differential diagnosis of these conditions. Previously, these things were unrecognized, and often persons with autism were simply grouped together with persons who were mentally retarded (and many people with autism are mentally retarded).

I think that the difference between a person who is dissolving the ego in a mystical/magical/spiritual way and a person with one of the conditions you specified is the wide sense of variety in personal function and development that people are able to express as a result of a spiritual path. Persons who experience a mystical dissolution may have "shaman sickness" as a part of their journey, but the end result is that they are even stronger and more creative than they were previously. Persons diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorders or neurodegenerative disorders do not transform into higher functioning human beings as a result of their conditions. They may transform, but (like a sports injury) in spite of, or while working with or around the injury, than due to it.

This is not to suggest that persons with autistic spectrum conditions cannot be creative, or contribute to society. But the type of dissolution/lack of awareness they experience (for instance, in a social sense) is due to a lack of their ability to have an experience of the emotions of others and social cues. While it may sound politically incorrect to focus on the limitations of persons with autism spectrum disorders, it should be noted that persons with autism often experience (if they have the ability to be cognizant of it) frustration and disappointment due to an awareness of their social impairments. (Some of the political movement to focus on the positive abilities of persons with autistic spectrum disorders is due to a deep wish to deny that there are, in fact, real needs that we and society must provide to them in order for them to cope in the world. In other words, the political movement focuses on the positive aspects of the person in order to deny the deep discomfort with other attributes of the person.)

In a similar vein, persons with Alzheimers tend to become more dysfunctional as their condition progresses than functional. Persons with Alzheimers do not experience egoless bliss in the final stages of the disorder, but often confusion and disorientation.

Perhaps a few words should be said about "karma." It is sorely tempting to make sense out of people's conditions by attributing them to the result of some "karmic" passage, either having to do with a past life or a future life. I think these kinds of attributions have more to do with us, and our needs, than the other person. It is okay to feel angry at a person with autism for their non-social behavior if they did something in a past life to "deserve" their fate. Similarly, we don't have to feel badly/sorry for a person with Alzheimers if we say to ourselves that they are preparing for their next life as advanced mystics. This is not to say that there isn't real karma, but it is important to note how karma (like talk about the afterlife in general) is used for our own ego needs as opposed to representing "cosmic law."

In regards to making "brain comparisons," between persons with and without what would be considered disorders, I think the main basic distinction I have drawn holds: persons with autism/alzheimers/et cetera have similar predictable ways in which their brains are built and functionally operate. Persons who have spiritual experiences have activity in similar parts of the brains, but this activity leads towards LESS predictable than MORE predictable behavior. Persons with alzheimers are unique individuals, but their behavior and functioning is more similar to one another as their conditions progress. In contrast, compare the behavior of, say, the Dalai Lama with, say, an iconoclast zen master who defaces the temple (or Jesus, who threw tax collectors OUT of the temple). In other words, people who undergo a spiritual experience differentiate; no two men or women who are at the top of the mountain act alike.

I think that egolessness in a mystical trance (e.g. Samadi) could be compared to a kind of unawareness, in comparison to the regular life. Then again, the trance is (so it is said) said to be so much more real, so much more aware, than our regular ego life. Nor is the ego entirely dissolved as a result of the trance; the mystic returns to earth as the person he once was, only with some new experience that is (in all his or her own terms) ineffable. The enlightenment trance is not a permanent state of being, but occurs for a period of time and then profoundly influences the life of the individual afterwards.

My 2 cents...

Krisztian
06-21-2012, 03:07 AM
In a similar vein, persons with Alzheimers tend to become more dysfunctional as their condition progresses than functional. Persons with Alzheimers do not experience egoless bliss in the final stages of the disorder, but often confusion and disorientation.

In regards to making "brain comparisons," between persons with and without what would be considered disorders, I think the main basic distinction I have drawn holds: persons with autism/alzheimers/et cetera have similar predictable ways in which their brains are built and functionally operate. Persons who have spiritual experiences have activity in similar parts of the brains, but this activity leads towards LESS predictable than MORE predictable behavior.

O it's such a sad condition Alzheimer's is! I enjoyed what you had to say about it, ALC93.

I work with this clientele as well as I had my dear grandmother suffer with this condition in her 70s. I know those of us who're healthy, young and philosophical tend to use our imagination but it's a rather confusing and disturbed state of mind.

It's a disintegration of the primary personality. I believe Jung's theory may best fit such phenomena.

ALC93
06-21-2012, 05:48 AM
It's a disintegration of the primary personality. I believe Jung's theory may best fit such phenomena.

Re: Alzheimers, most definitely, I'm on-board with that. Obviously not the mechanism of the (disease), but it does make sense of what would be happening to the person!

Wise man, Jung.