Many mystical texts convey insights into the nature of mind that have the potential to assist in the framing of scientific models in psychology and neuroscience. In many cases, however, the insights are concealed within complex, codified symbolic systems, meaning that the reader must engage with the hermeneutic employed by the texts’ authors in order to access the insights. Combining such a hermeneutic approach with that of neurophenomenology can enrich the input from mysticism to science. I exemplify this hermeneutic neurophenomenology
through an analysis of states of mystical consciousness as portrayed in the classic of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar
. Three distinct mystical states are identified, each of which is understood as being dominated by a specific dimension of consciousness. The normal state of consciousness is dominated by the narrative construction of self. The first mystical state arises as this narrative is attenuated, allowing the intentionality of perception and emotion to become the dominating dimension. The second mystical state comes to the fore as the mystic increasingly identifies with an associational propensity at the core of memory processing. The final mystical state conveys the essential feature of consciousness—phenomenality—with little, if any, intentional content. I explore how the Zohar’s
insights into these states can combine with neurocognitive data and thereby enrich our understanding of consciousness.
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