Chapter

Cave Experiences and the Human Mind

Yulia Ustinova

in Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199548569
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720840 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548569.003.0002
Cave Experiences and the Human Mind

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This chapter surveys the wealth of literature on altered states of consciousness which in many cases lead to the sensation of ineffable revelation of superhuman truth. Altered states of consciousness often occur in people exposed to sensory deprivation. As a result, seers, shamans, and other mediators between gods and mortals practise prolonged isolation in caves and other closed spaces in their quest of ecstatic illumination. The tunnel sensation is characteristic of near-death experiences, which appear to have influenced assorted mystical ideas and practices. The assessment of the cross-cultural nature of altered states of consciousness makes apparent that out-of-body sensations and ecstatic insights of the Greek visionaries and sages were not imported from abroad. They developed within the Greek culture, deriving from the universals of human consciousness.

Keywords: altered states of consciousness; cave experience; sensory deprivation; near-death experiences; out-of-body sensations; shaman

Chapter.  15624 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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