Transcript: Jeff Lieberman on Science and Spirituality at TEDxCambridge 2011

And so, the only moment that mattered to us was right now. I think this experience is so important and powerful that every religious tradition at its core has been trying to convince us of its importance. And if it’s true, if the true end of all human psychological suffering is actually possible, it is the most important thing science could be studying.

When we look at monks and nuns who have meditated or prayed for thousands of hours, we see remarkable shifts on their brain scans. Trillions of neural connections have changed configuration. And along with this quantifiable objective change in the operating system of the brain, they describe a feeling of undifferentiated, infinite oneness. To me, that sounds like they’re having the direct experience of being energy.

Now, enlightenment science and enlightenment engineering would study these ancient technologies of prayer and meditation as data sets, to understand what has to change in the structure of a human brain for a human being to understand that they are energy directly. And we still have no idea how much modern technology could completely change our ability to understand that. Maybe it’s possible that, within our lifetimes, we could actually eradicate human suffering. And what would the world look like then, if every single one of us felt complete, felt whole, and felt interconnected?

[Letting go]

When you let go of individual survival, all of your priorities change, because you actually see the entire world as your body, you see the suffering of others as your own suffering, and you want to help. And what is the actual power of a human being to really benefit the world, when they’re able to put the priorities of the whole system in front of themselves, even if that means they have to die in the process? How many of us can do that right now? What if 7 billion of us did that?

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Maybe the one thing that keeps us from actually solving all of the other problems in the world is this persistent flawed thought that we are separate from the world. And maybe it’s time we change our minds.

Thank you.


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