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the Message Continues ... 6/82



Newsletter for June 2008


Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12




 By Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

Do humans possess something more than body and mind? Or are we what
computer scientists call WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get - beings?

These questions all point to a fundamental issue that has always been in
search of more and better answers: Do humans have a mysterious third
entity, a soul or spirit, linking our corporeal and mental existence?

Virtually every religious belief system formally answers this important
question in the affirmative; in mainstream faiths it is part of their core
doctrine and all believers learn it. But even among religious believers,
there are many skeptics when it comes to understanding a part of us that we
can neither see nor quantify.

And Spirituality, the modern term for these matters of the "third entity,"
is a very difficult subject to write about.

I know this from personal experience. It's been more than half a decade
since I published Spiritual Fitness for Life; I even have a copyright on
the phrase "spiritual fitness." Using the title's implied parallel with
physical fitness; I tried to answer four basic questions: What is spiritual
fitness? What are its benefits? How do we achieve it? and, How is it

As much as I enjoyed writing my book, I knew even at the outset that no
single individual can provide definitive and final answers to any of these
leading questions. Since then, I have continued to explore this fascinating
subject as others see it and recently read The Spiritual Brain -- A
Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Canadian authors
Mario Beauregard, Ph.D. and Denyse O'Leary.

Denyse O'Leary is a Toronto-based freelance journalist. And Dr. Mario
Beauregard's groundbreaking research on the neurobiology of mystical
experience at the University of Montreal has received international

Their book attempts to answer a key question often posed by skeptics: Do
religious experiences come from God, or are they merely from our brain? And
the bottom-line answer of O'Leary and Beauregard's thesis is: God creates
our spiritual experiences, not the brain.

Drawing on his research with Carmelite nuns, Dr. Beauregard shows that
spiritual events can be documented and he offers evidence that religious
experiences do have nonmaterial origins.

"The discipline of neuroscience today is materialist. That is, it assumes
that the mind is quite simply the physical workings of the brain,"
Beauregard writes. "Many scientists ignore hard evidence that challenges
their materialistic prejudice, clinging to the limited view that our
experiences are explainable only by material causes, in the obstinate
conviction that the physical world is the only reality. But scientific
materialism is at a loss to explain irrefutable accounts of mind over
matter, of intuition, willpower, and leaps of faith, of the ‘placebo
effect' in medicine, of near-death experiences on the operating table, and
of psychic premonitions of a loved one in crisis, to say nothing of the
occasional sense of oneness with nature and mystical experiences in
meditation or prayer."

Beauregard observes, however, that "recently, materialistic explanations of
religion and spirituality have gotten out of hand. Influenced by this
materialistic prejudice, popular media jump at stories about the violence
gene, the fat gene, the monogamy gene, the infidelity gene, and now, even a
God gene!"

He admits that "spiritual experiences are complex ... like our experiences
of human relationships. They leave signatures in many parts of the brain."
He also warns that "Materialism is apparently unable to answer key
questions about the nature of being human and has little prospect of ever
answering them intelligibly. It has also convinced millions of people that
they should not seek to develop their spiritual nature because they have

Yet, he argues, "when spiritual experiences transform lives, the most
reasonable explanation and the one that best accounts for all the evidence
is that the people who have such experiences have actually contacted a
reality outside themselves, a reality that has brought them closer to the
real nature of the universe."

O'Leary and Beauregard have presented a very good read on a very difficult
and elusive subject. Yet even hardened skeptics would agree with them that
"Spirituality today is more varied, but it is growing all over the world."

(Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, professor emeritus of computer engineering at the
University of Waterloo, is national president of the Canadian Islamic








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