The Human Brain and the Continuum of Peak Experience

I also dismiss the claim held by some scientists of the reductionist school that asserts heightened religious experience as pathological. Instead, I further argue that humans, based on interdisciplinary research and analysis are unconsciously compelled by the very evolutionary structure and biochemistry of the brain to consciously create myths and religious narratives, and finally to act on them in rituals of meditative prayers, chants and songs for transcendence and only secondary for their social functions.A significant proportion of this world’s populations is deeply involved in one kind of faith or another, a belief or system of beliefs in a higher being or deity, who is overlooking all that is going around in the world. For most of these people, this belief gives a feeling of hopefulness and optimism, of comfort in understanding and making sense out of the unfortunate events as they turn out in this world. At the culmination of this belief system comes a feeling of extreme ecstasy and connectedness with that higher being, a feeling of ‘Transcendence’. People from all religions and faiths feel it in some way, accompanied by idiosyncratic rituals and practices. For this paper, the term used to describe this epitome of experience will be Peak Experience.This paper endeavours to understand the manifestation of this feeling so as to support the hypothesis set that we have been programmed through our biology to experience this transcendence. In other words, all human beings are open to this transcendent or peak experience because of the way we are made and have evolved over time.The term ‘peak experience’ literally means the epitome or the climax of any experience or series of experiences. The term peak experience denotes a deeply profound, even esoteric feeling, which rises from intense personal experiences that involved ‘moments of great joy, and is chiefly attributed to Abraham Maslow. (Wilson and Spencer 565)