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From Rock Sitting to Neuroscientist

by John K. Stoner   (June 28, 2017)  

Today I add to the June 20 blog, which was a high school student’s “experience of a vital world.”  What that young woman saw in a Rocky Mountaiin lake influenced her for life.  Here is one man’s story, never shared until he was in his forties.

Lisa Miller tells the story of Stefan: 
Stefan, a neuroscientist in his forties, divulged over lunch with colleagues that just such an experience [a childhood mystical experience] at age eight was responsible for the great sense of purpose and passion that has distinguished his career and his life.  As a child, Stefan had always enjoyed taking walks in the forest near his parent’s home.  He loved the woods because they felt “so vibrant and full of life and mystery.”  One beautiful summer day, much like other days, he wandered into the forest, and growing tired, sat down to rest on a big gray rock.

“While sitting on that rock, I watched the pretty trees 
surrounding me.  After a few minutes, I started feeling
connected to the rock and the trees.  It then appeared
to me that the rock, the trees, and myself were part of
a whole much greater than ‘little Stefan.’  Following this
experience, my purpose in life became clear; I would
later become a scientist to demonstrate that the essence 
of human beings cannot be found in the brain.”

Stefan never mentioned this experience, or others that followed, to his parents, Grandparents, or the children at school.  It was an experience beyond words for him as a young boy, something he intuitively sensed that no one would understand or even believe.  But the experiences belonged to an intimate and profound realm as concrete and real as the rock on which he’d sat that day.  Even as a child he recognized his experience as transcendent, a higher order of knowing.  (P. 165)

The high school student (June 20 blog) and Stefan both experienced sure knowledge of a transcendent order of beauty and goodness which shaped their lives thereafter.  My point in these blogs is that without our awareness of and appropriation of our innate capacity for this kind of knowing, we will not know enough to develop an alternative to empire—another way of running the world.  

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