Brain Chemistry of Spiritual Gurus

Brain Chemistry of Spiritual Gurus!

Brain Chemistry of Spiritual Gurus

What is the factor(s) that makes spiritual gurus supreme in spirituality?

Spirituality may denote almost any kind of meaningful activity or blissful experience. It denotes a process of transformation, but in a context separate from organized religious institutions, termed 'spiritual but not religious'.

The traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape. Spirituality will differ from person to person and when it comes to Judaism the Torah, in Christianity Christ, in Buddhism Buddha, in the Islam Muhammad."

What is Neurotheology?

Neurotheology is the study of correlations of neural phenomena with subjective experiences of spirituality and hypotheses to explain these phenomena. The entire concept of neurotheology is to bridge the phenomenon of spirituality and the emanating subjective experiences.

The phenomenon of neurotheology is just not limited to the epileptics or to normal individuals with transients. It is a concept of feelings or sights in the form of hallucinations, which can be entitled to any individual who is on narcotics. The scientists in the pharmacological field came across a set of certain neurotransmitters like N-dimethyltryptamine, the increased levels of which in the pineal glands, tended to spark off or trigger hyper religious phenomena.

For better understanding of neurotheology first we should know some basics about brain / central nervous system.

What is central nervous system?

How it works?

How it regulates thoughts & activities of our body?

The central nervous system is the most elaborate and the highly evolved structure of the human body. Every brain is a complex intertwined network of neurons. Every individual is unique. The origin of the individuality of every human being lies in the neurochemical and the hormonal interactions between each part of the central nervous system. The brain interacts within itself between the cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and the limbic system.

Every individual’s uniqueness and personality is determined by the interactions amongst these areas. Certain basic functions are characteristic to that particular sector or part of the brain, which are especially in tune with neurotheology; just as the thought process is regulated by the prefrontal cortex, in tandem with the temporal lobes, the hypothalamus orchestrates the hormonal regulation.

Certain aspects of the human mind, which have been further deciphered, include the hippocampus which connects the self of a human being with the external world, the amygdala which regulates the human response to motivation, affection and meaning and most remarkably, the limbic system which fills in the emotional quotient to the entire scenario.

Certain studies have recently suggested specific mechanisms, whereby the evolutionary alterations in the structure of the brain may account for the development of religion/ spiritual thinking as well as love, memory, various moods/feelings and dreams.

The sense of a union with God or sometimes even greater experiences which are linked to enlightenment, emotions and consciousness of the body and mind are linked to the entire brain as a whole.

As far as the spiritual and religious personifications are concerned, the temporal lobe electrical ectopics result in supreme faith and hardcore rigid beliefs.

In other studies scientist had found that one gene that was at least correlated with self-transcendence. It's called VMAT2 [Vesicular Mono Amine Transporter]. It handles one type of brain chemical, monoamines [serotonin], that have a lot to do with emotional sensitivity.

Religious behavior, like other human behavior, varies widely among individuals. There was still other twin studies suggest that this spirituality scale is at least partially inherited. There is increasing support for the view that such interindividual differences can be explained by biological and genetic factors. A role for the serotonin system was suggested early on from subjective experiences induced by mind-altering drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin.

What is serotonin?

Where it is found in human body?

What are the functions of serotonin?


Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Serotonin biochemically derived from tryptophan. Serotonin can be synthesized from tryptophan in the lab using Aspergillus niger and Psilocybe coprophila as catalysts.

Serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), blood platelets, and the central nervous system (CNS) of animals, including humans.

Serotonin and tryptophan have been found in chocolate with varying cocoa contents. The highest serotonin content (2.93 µg/g) was found in chocolate with 85% cocoa, and the highest tryptophan content (13.27-13.34 µg/g) was found in 70-85% cocoa.

It is the chemical that thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness, regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin is metabolized mainly to 5-HIAA, chiefly by the liver.

Serotonin Working Mechanism

Central serotonergic neurons originate from the raphe nuclei in the brainstem and innervate major brain regions, such as the hypothalamus, the limbic system, the striatum, and the neocortex. Fourteen serotonin receptor subtypes have thus far been identified in the human brain. The most extensively investigated is the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor. Presynaptic 5-HT1A auto receptors are highly concentrated on cell bodies in the raphe and mediate the inhibition of cell firing and serotonin release in all projection areas. Thus, the 5-HT1A receptor may have a role as general regulator of serotonergic activity.

Basically, those with a higher concentration of serotonin receptors will therefore most likely show a stronger inclination towards spiritual acceptance. It is quite clear that serotonin influences how spiritual an individual is, but this does not mean a person is as spiritual as how much serotonin they have.

Is it spirituality really because of monoamines/serotonin neurotransmitters?

From a brain chemistry point of view, what was happening in spiritual gurus / meditating monks [Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad] brains during these spiritual experiences?

While spiritual gurus / meditating monks perform meditation / breathing, the process might make them focus really hard and concentrating the front part of their brain (the attention-orientation region) makes a change in the flow of monoamines. On the other side, it leads to some sort of relaxation on another part of the brain. This results in altered brain function in them, which intern leads to more focused attention to spirituality.


So what can one do if they wish to be more spiritual?

One way that may be suggested is to increase the level of serotonin in the body.

Even though we are saying there is a genetic predisposition and differential levels of serotonin in human body influences spirituality, it is still very clear that practice makes a man perfect and that people can change their level of spirituality by working on it.


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