"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Strokes of Insight"

In the attached video, calling it "a death in the mind," English-born Benedictine monk/Hindu sanyassin, Bede Griffiths, describes how a stroke that nearly killed him transformed him spiritually, "overwhelmed" him with an unconditional love, and brought him to a place of ultimate and lasting non-duality.

"What my experience taught me," he observes, "was that when everything else goes, you discover this love which is in you all the time. It's there - deep down there - and you know nothing about it. But let everything go and it comes."

"Behind all death," he explains, "is this tremendous power of love. And everybody has got it in them, if they could only find it. But," he notes, "the mind is controlling all the time and won't let it through."

The experience of Griffiths, who died in 1993, is strikingly similar to accounts of other stroke survivors who have encountered profound levels of non-duality and spiritual insight through their near brush with death. One of the most interesting (and inspiring) examples of such 'transformative strokes' is that which is related in the attached Ted.com talk by Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor.

Calling it her "stroke of insight," Bolte-Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, describes from a trained clinician's point of view what happened, and what transformative insights she gained, when she, herself, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1996.

"Imagine what it would be like," she says in describing the expansiveness of her stroke experience, "to be totally disconnected from your brain chatter that connects you to the external world."

Interestingly, both Griffiths and Bolte-Taylor talk about a moment of complete "surrender" when their spirits resigned themselves to their fate, a lasting nirvana-like experience to which Bolte-Taylor attributes her decision to recover.

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