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Copyright © 2015 by Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal and Vision Research Institute.
Author’s permission is needed for re-producing and/or quoting any portion (except the quotes from other
authors). For referring, the following content should be included: Vimal, R. L. P. (2015). Meanings attributed to the
term ‘Spirituality’ and Science underlying it: extended Dual-Aspect Monism. Vision Research Institute: Living Vision
and Consciousness Research [Available: updated version: http://sites.google.com/site/rlpvimal/Home/2015-Vimal-SpiritualityMeanings-LVCR-7-5.pdf], 7(5), 1-36. Added to Academia and Research Gate: 2015-10-04; DOI:
10.13140/RG.2.1.3689.0326. [Recent update: Monday, October 05, 2015, 10:31 AM]. This article started in Sept. 2015
and major updates are in: Oct. 2015; still in preparation stage. Comments and suggestions are most welcome and
should be emailed to rlpvimal@yahoo.co.in .

Meanings attributed to the term ‘Spirituality’ and Science
underlying it: extended Dual-Aspect Monism
Rām Lakhan Pāndey Vimal
Vision Research Institute, 25 Rita Street, Lowell, MA 01854 USA
rlpvimal@yahoo.co.in

Abstract
Spirituality (आयािमकता: Ādhyayātmiktā), as self-transcendence (selfforgetfulness, transpersonal identification, and mysticism), started in
northwest Indian subcontinent during the Indus Valley Civilization since RigVedic period (astronomical-sky-view 8000-4000 BC).
There are over 55 meanings attributed to the term ‘spirituality’, which were
categorized in two groups: religion-based and science-based spirituality. Any
person (theists, atheists, agnostics, humanists, hedonists, and so on) can be
spiritual.
Science is based on materialism metaphysics (foundation): non-mental
matter is fundamental and mind1 somehow emerges from it, which is close to
eastern Cārvāka/Lokāyata view. However, religion is based on (a) idealism:
non-material mind is fundamental and matter-in-itself somehow congeals from
it, which is close to eastern Advaita, and/or (b) interactive substance dualism:
both matter and mind are fundamental but they can interact, which is close to
eastern Prakṛti (matter) and Puruṣa (mind) of Sāṃkhya metaphysics.
Thus, the metaphysics of (a) science and science-based spirituality and (b)
religion and religion-based spirituality seem to contradict each other. In
addition, these three metaphysics have serious problems, such as an
explanatory gap problem in materialism and idealism, and thee association
problem in interactive substance dualism. We propose the least problematic
1

The western/scientific term ‘mind’ is different from eastern term ‘manas’ or ‘mana’, which is a
subtle matter, the central processor, and is liaison between Puruṣa and Prakṛti. As per Rao
(1998), “The manas is the central processor which selectively reflects on the material provided
by the senses and determines its character by assimilation and discrimination” (p.319).

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five-component extended dual-aspect monism (eDAM, Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita)
framework, which addresses the contradiction, addresses the problems of other
metaphysics, and brings science, religion, and spirituality closer.
Spirituality is defined as an experiential sub-aspect of consciousness, which
is the mental-aspect of a transcendental (spiritual) state of a mind-brain system
or that of a brain-process (interacting with its environment), from the first-person
perspective (1pp). The environment can include other mind-brain systems, and
living and non-living systems. The spirituality or self-transcendence has three
components: self-forgetfulness, transpersonal identification, and mysticism.
Spirituality can be measured subjectively using a self-transcendence scale. Its
inseparable physical aspect from third person perspective (3pp) is related
neural-network and its activities, which can be measured using objective
method such as functional MRI.
Furthermore, religion has health benefits but also has problems; spirituality
has mostly benefits but also has some concerns for those spirituals who believe
in problematic metaphysics.
Keywords: Mind, matter, spirituality, consciousness, science, religion,
metaphysics, materialism, Cārvāka/Lokāyata, idealism, Advaita, interactive
substance dualism, Prakṛti, Puruṣa, Sāṃkhya, Kashmir Shaivism, Viśiṣṭādvaita,
extended dual-aspect monism, Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita, God gene, VMAT2, God
module, God spot, brain

1. Introduction
Religion and spirituality may differ because the evidence for “spiritual but
not religious” exists (Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006).

1.1. Religion
(i) Religion is a collection of (a) cultural systems, (b) belief systems, and (c)
worldviews, which relate humanity to spirituality and/or moral/ethical values
(Wikipedia, 2015b).
(ii) As per (Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001), “Religion is an organized
system of beliefs, practices, rituals, and symbols designed (a) to facilitate
closeness to the sacred or transcendent (God, higher power, or ultimate
truth/reality) and (b) to foster an understanding of one's relationship and
responsibility to others in living together in a community” (p.18).
(iii) As per (Argyle & Beit-Hallahmi, 1975), religion is ‘‘a system of beliefs in a
divine or superhuman power, and practices of worship or other rituals directed
towards such a power’’ (p. 1).
We argue that although, worship and rituals are community activity, which
ties or binds people together (Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006), they should not be
based on problematic metaphysics such as idealism/Advaita and/or interactive
substance dualism/Sāṃkhya; otherwise, superstitions are generated and the
2

benefits of religions are downgraded in the sense that they are based on
problematic metaphysics; rather, they should be based on the least
problematic extended dual-aspect monism to get more effective benefits (see
Section 2 below).

1.2. Spirituality
1.2.1. Development of spirituality: History
Spirituality
(आयािमकता ),
as
self-transcendence

(self-forgetfulness,
transpersonal identification, and mysticism), started in northwest Indian
subcontinent during the Indus Valley Civilization2 since Rig-Vedic period:
4000–2000 BC (Vimal & Pandey-Vimal, 2007), astronomical-sky-view 80004000 BC (Saroj Bala, 2012), Rāmāyaṇa (Rāma: 5114–5075 BC (Saroj Bala,
2012), 8000-6000 BC: (Vartak, 1999)), Gītā (Mahābhārata war: 3067 BC:
(Achar, 2010), 5561 BC: (Vartak, 1989), Vyas). Gītā is based on Sāṃkhya (~
interactive substance dualism) (~1000–600 BC?, Kapila: ~550 BC?, or before
3067-5561 BC) (Vimal, 2012b) and Advaita (~idealism). Rāmāyaṇa is based on
cit-acit Viśiṣṭādvaita and Kashmir Shaivism (~ dual aspect monism)(Mádhava
Áchárya, 1996 [1882]). There were also Cārvāka/Lokāyata (~ materialist,
nāstika, atheist) (Cārvāka, 800-500 BC; Chānakya, c. 350–283 BC) (Vimal,
2012b) who seems to follow “spiritual but not religious” concept. Thus
spirituality as samadhi (transcendental) state subjective experiences (mental
entity), based on all four major groups of metaphysics, was well developed in
India long before developed in west.
In west, spirituality started from 5th century in a Biblical context (based on
idealism and interactive substance dualism metaphysics); then spirituality
designated the mental aspect of life in the 11th century ((Waaijman,
2000).p360). This was extended to social and psychological meaning in the
13th century, such as the realm of the inner life: “The purity of motives,
affections, intentions, inner dispositions, the psychology of the spiritual life,
the analysis of the feelings” ((Waaijman, 2000).p361). After this, two levels
(higher such as mysticism and quietism and lower forms) of spirituality were
2 As per (Wikipedia, 2015a), (a) “The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age
civilisation (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE, pre-Harappan cultures starting
c.7500 BCE (Dua, 2015; Sengupta, 2013)) in northwest Indian subcontinent (including present
day Pakistan, northwest India (Doshi, 2015)) and also in some regions in northeast
Afghanistan (Overdorf, 2012; Wright, 2009).” (b) in Indus-Sarasvati cities like Mohenjo Daro
and Harappa (now in Pakistan), Rakhigarhi, Banawali, and Kalimanga (Haryana and Panjab,
India) and Lothal, Kuntasi, Surotada, Dholavira (Gujrat, India). (c) As per (Dua, 2015), “The
report, based on C 14 radio-dating, has said the mounds at Bhirrana village, on the banks of
Ghaggar river, in Fatehabad district [India] date back to 7570-6200 BC.” India’s two villages
Bhirrana (Rajasthan) is the oldest Harappan site, and Rakhigarhi (Haryana) is the Asia’s
largest site (Doshi, 2015; Dua, 2015; Overdorf, 2012; Sengupta, 2013).

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developed in the 17th and 18th century. Then spirituality as transcendental
state was developed in 19th-century. Finally, “spiritual but not religious”
movement developed with rise of secularism in 20th century in both west and
east.

1.2.2. Definitions of ‘spirituality’
There are many meanings assigned to the term ‘spirituality’; some of them
are as follows:
1. As per (King & Koenig, 2009), “Wach [(Wach, 1958)] described spiritual
(or mystical) experience as one in which there is 1) a response to a ‘given’ that
lies beyond one's everyday self; 2) total involvement; 3) a sense of something
immensely real that removes for the moment everyday concerns; and 4)
consequences for everyday life […] We found that people spoke of spirituality in
terms of their relationships with important others and with the world, and their
beliefs about ultimate meaning. … These findings led us to develop an
instrument in which 10 of out of 20 final statements described spirituality as
distinct from religion[24].”
2. As per (Shafranske & Gorsuch, 1984), spirituality is ‘‘a transcendent
dimension within human experience … discovered in moments in which the
individual questions the meaning of personal existence and attempts to place
the self within a broader ontological context’’ (p. 231).
3. (Murray & Zentner, 1985) defines spirituality as “A quality that goes
beyond religious affiliation, that strives for inspiration, reverence, awe,
menacing and purpose, even in those who do not believe in any God. The
spiritual dimension tries to be in harmony with the universe, strives for
answers about the infinite and come into focus when the person faces
emotional stress, physical illness, or death”.
4. As per (Vaughan, 1991), spirituality is ‘‘a subjective experience of the
sacred’’ (p. 105).
5. “Spirituality is the animation force, life principle, or essence of
being that permeates life and is expressed and experienced in multifaceted
connections with the self, others, nature, and God or the universal life force.
Shaped by cultural experiences, spirituality is a universal human experience
(Miller, 1995)” (Young & Koopsen, 2011).
6. “Spirituality involves the nonphysical, immaterial aspects of an
individual’s being with energies, essences, and the parts of people that will
exist after their bodies disintegrate. The whole picture of health involves
physical, mental, and spiritual components. Whether or not a person is
religious, he or she can lead a spiritual life and explore the influence of
spirituality on health (Weil, 1997)” (Young & Koopsen, 2011).
7. “Spirituality is rooted in an awareness that is part of the biological
makeup of the human species. Spirituality is present in all individuals and it
may manifest as inner peace and strength derived from a perceived relationship
4

with a transcendent God or an ultimate reality or whatever an individual values
as supreme (Narayanasamy, 1999)” (Young & Koopsen, 2011).
8. In (Kuebler, Davis, & Moore, 2005), “Spirituality is that which allows a
person to experience transcendent meaning in life. This is often expressed as a
relationship with God, but it can also be about nature, art, music, family,
community, or whatever beliefs and values give a person as sense of meaning
and purpose in life (Puchalski & Romer, 2000)”.
9. As per (Waaijman, 2000), the traditional meaning of spirituality is a
process of re-formation, which “aims to recover the original shape of man, the
image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which
represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity Christ, in
Buddhism Buddha, in the Islam Muhammad.”
10. For (Sharf, 2000), spirituality is blissful experience.
11. As per (Koenig et al., 2001), “Spirituality is the personal quest for
understanding answers to ultimate questions about life, about meaning and
about relationship to the sacred or transcendent, which may (or may not) lead
to or arise from the development of religious rituals and the formation of
community” (p.18).
12. As per (Tanyi, 2002), “Spirituality is a personal search for meaning and
purpose in life, which may or may not be related to religion” (p.690).
13. As per (Taylor, 2002), dictionaries define spirituality through a variety of
terms, including the following: Sacred, Moral, Holy or divine, Of pure essence,
Intellectual and higher endowments of the mind, Ecclesiastical (relating to
religious organizations), Incorporeal (without a physical dimension), Spirits or
supernatural entities, and Highly refined in thought and feeling.
14. National Institute of Healthcare Research panel defined spirituality as
“the feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors that arise from a search for
the sacred” ((Boudreaux, O'Hea, & Chasuk, 2002), p.439).
15. (Plotnikoff, 2002) describes that “Spirituality is a journey towards, or
experience of, connection with the source of ultimate meaning…with one’s self,
with others, with nature and with a higher power.”
16. As per (Burkhardt & Nagai-Jacobson, 2005), “Spirituality is the essence
of who we are and how we are in the world and, like breathing, is integral to
our human existence.”
17. As per (McCarroll, O’Connor, & Meakes, 2005)1, from the 27 definitions
of spirituality, eight themes related to spirituality emerged. Their 8 themes
were (quotes are from (McCarroll, O’Connor, & Meakes, 2005)): (i) meaning
and purpose: “religious belief is considered as a meaning-making system in
which an individual attempts to fulfill the human longing to find meaning,
purpose, and fulfillment in life. The meaning and purpose in life includes life
both in its particularity and universality”. (ii) Connection and relationship:
“An individual’s [connections and] relationships with self, other, the cosmos,
and god/God are understood to be reflective of and shaped by one’s
spirituality.” (iii) God/god(s)/Transcendent Other: “The majority of these
5

definitions emphasize that a relationship with God/god(s)/Transcendent Other
is not only the primary manifestation of spirituality (as in theme 2 above) is
also the origin of spirituality. […] Where most definitions identity that everyone
is spiritual but not religious, others equate spirituality with religion.”
(iv) Transcendent Self: “spirituality is understood as the means of enabling
the individual to transcend the self in one capacity or another […] In some
instances spirituality is viewed as that which enables the transcending of
emotional and/or physical pain. In other instances it is that which enables the
transcending of the self so as to identify with the experiences of another
person. This understanding of transcendence is anthropocentric [human
supremacy] in each case.” (v) Vital principle: “The vital [energetic] principle [as
a central aspect of spirituality] is understood as the creative force in self
and/or world and/or universe. In these definitions, vital principle transcends
or integrates subject-object dichotomies. It is a non-personified, incorporeal
[spiritual, mental], common element that ‘vitalizes’ the whole person and/or
the cosmos.” (vi) Unifying force or integrative energy: “Ten of the definitions
[10/27] refer to spirituality as the unifying force or integrative energy within
the individual and/or world and/or cosmos […] Like the theme above (vital
principle), this understanding assumes something that transcends subjectobject dichotomies. However, the aforementioned theme and this one differ in
function. The unifying force/integrative energy is a non-personified, incorporeal
common energy that unified reality.” (vii) Personal and private: “Seven [7/27]
articles highlight in their definitions that spirituality is personal and private in
nature […] All of these emphasize the subjectivity of spirituality and the fact
that it is judgmental and value-laden. Connected with this focus on the
personal
and
private
nature
of
spirituality
is
a
reticence
[uncommunicativeness] for addressing spirituality in the health care setting.
There is fear that if understanding of spirituality are standardized, it will
become exclusive, and not be open to a diversity of experiences and
perspectives.” (viii) Hope: “In four [4/27] articles, hope is included in the
definitions of spirituality […] Hope is understood both as a will to live and as an
ability to come through a crisis and loss of health. Some of these definitions
closely connect hope with meaning and purpose (see theme 1) with the
explanation that it is a sense of meaning and purpose in life that gives hope
[…Epistemology of Spirituality] Using ‘spirituality’ as the focus, the five
perspectives can be identified epistemologically as follows: spirituality is known
practically; spirituality is known phenomenologically; spirituality is known
linguistically; spirituality is known in subjective experience; spirituality is an
unknowable mystery. […] Love, when understood as that which attends to
‘otherness’ and opposes tyranny in all its forms, invites us to qualitatively
discern the good from the bad—that is, healthy spirituality from unhealthy (or
non-) spirituality.”
18. As per (Hamer, 2005), spirituality is: (a) an ultimate mental (nonmaterial) reality that involves private feelings, thoughts, mystical experiences,
6

and revelations (p.13), (b) associated with religion (p.13), and (c) believing in
something larger than oneself (p.6). (Hamer, 2005)’s definition of spirituality
includes self-transcendence that has 3 components: self-forgetfulness,
transpersonal identification, and mysticism.
19. As per (Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006), “Definitions of spirituality usually
put more emphasis on the individual and on subjective experience. […] we will
use the more precise term subjective spirituality … closer in meaning to the
natural-language term mysticism.”
20. As per (Snyder & Lopez, 2007), spirituality may denote almost any kind
of meaningful activity.
21. As per (Houtman & Aupers, 2007), modern spirituality is a blend of
eastern religions mystical and esoteric traditions and humanistic psychology
(that includes self-actualization and creativity).
22. (Sheldrake, 2007) links spirituality with “deepest values and meanings
by which people live” (p.1-2).
23. Spirituality signifies a process of transformation (personal development),
but in the sense of “spiritual but not religious” (Wong & Vinsky, 2009), which
“likely indicates mystical preferences” (Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006).
24. (Puchalski et al., 2009) contend that "spirituality is the aspect of
humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and
purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to
self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”
25. As per (Beauregard & O'Leary, 2009), “spirituality means any experience
that is thought to bring the experiencer into contact with the divine (in other
words, not just any experience that feels meaningful).”
26. As per (King & Koenig, 2009), “the best approach to the meaning of
spirituality lies in how it is used in language rather than in anything hidden in
the minds of those who use it”. They proposed four components of spirituality
as follows, which are “ordered in terms of increasing awareness of relationship
to something that is beyond empirical verification”:
"1. Belief [:] An assent to or conviction about a domain or existence that
goes beyond the material world. This includes all manner of religious or other
beliefs that are not based on materialism.
2. Practice [:] Spiritual or religious practice at this level occurs without
conscious awareness of, or relationship to, the spiritual realm addressed.
Although it involves exercises of imagination and desire such as contemplation,
prayer, reading or reflection, the self is not moved by any direct experience of
relationship with or connection to the other.
3. Awareness [:] There is an awareness of being moved intellectually and/or
emotionally. It includes contemplation, prayer, meditation or reflection when
there is conscious awareness of, or response to, this dimension.
4. Experience [:] A discrete experience which may include diffusion of the
mind, loss of ego boundaries and a change in orientation from self towards or
beyond the material world. The experience usually comes unbidden but may
7

follow a period of reflection, meditation, stress or isolation. Ecstatic experiences
are of this type, but experience may be much less intense and more prolonged.
Factors not a part of the definition
Sources [:] Any consideration of the source of spirituality, be it secular,
sacred, divine or diabolical.
Consequences – positive or negative [:] These may be proximate such as
happiness, fear, a new sense of meaning or the intention to live an ethical life;
or distant such as economic success or failure and changes in physical or
mental health, or in relationships.
Other [:] Secular systems of virtue, ethics or morality. […] we assume that
these components of spirituality are mediated by processes rooted in brain
function.” The nine possibilities of one or more components are 1, 2, 3, 4,
1+2+3, 1+2-3, 3+4, 4+1, and 4-3 (i.e., 4 without conscious encouragement). 2
27. As per (Caba & Davis, 2010) “Spirituality is often defined as an Inner
Path that enables a person to discover the essence of their being. The core of
who they are and the deepest values and meanings by which they live.
Therefore, it can be stated that the essence of spirituality is the search to
uncover ‘true self’ to discover the real nature of ‘consciousness.’ ”
28. As per (Reinert & Koenig, 2013), “The authors propose defining
spirituality in the context of religious involvement when conducting research,
while using a broader [patient-defined] definition of spirituality when providing
spiritual care. […] Spirituality is distinguished from other things –humanism,
values, morals and mental health – by its connection to the transcendent. The
transcendent is that which is outside of the self and yet also within the self –
and in Western traditions is called God, Allah, HaShem, or a Higher Power and
in Eastern traditions is called Ultimate Truth or Reality, Vishnu, Krishna, or
Buddha. Spirituality is intimately connected to the supernatural and religion,
although also extends beyond religion (and begins before it). Spirituality
includes a search for the transcendent and so involves traveling along the path
that leads from non-consideration to a decision not to believe to questioning to
belief to devotion to surrender (Koenig et al. 2012, p.46).”
29. (Leonard & Carlson, 2015)’s working definition is: “Spirituality is
embracing, celebrating, and voicing all the connections with the
ultimate/mystery/divine, within me and beyond me, in experiences that give
me meaning, purpose, direction, and values for my daily journey. Spirituality
exists in our connection to other humans, our environment and the unfolding
universe beyond, and the transcendent.”

1.2.3. Overview
To sum up, there are over 27 definitions of spirituality from (McCarroll,
O’Connor, & Meakes, 2005) and 28 definitions identified above, resulting about
55 meanings attributed to the term ‘spirituality’, extracted from the literature.
From the above multiple definitions, the meanings attributes to the term
‘spirituality’ include:
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1. Transcendental experience/feelings/thought;
2. Life principle;
3. A process of re-formation/transformation;
4. A personal quest for the transcendent;
5. Relationship or connection with self, other, the cosmos, and God/
Transcendent;
6. A mechanism of enabling the individual to transcend the self in one
capacity or another;
7. The unifying force or integrative energy within the individual and/or world
and/or cosmos;
8. Personal and private;
9. Inner path that enables a person to discover the essence of their being.
10. Spirituality has 4 components: beliefs beyond material world, practice,
awareness, and transcendental experience; and
11. Self-transcendence (self-forgetfulness, transpersonal identification, and
mysticism).
Some of the definitions overlapped but others were apparently mutually
exclusive – and this list is by no means exhaustive. Most can be regarded as
expressions of authors’ views based on nursing practice, mental health, and
medical health. The prospects for reaching any single, agreed, theory
independent definition of spirituality
thus appear remote, in analogy to
consciousness: (Vimal, 2009b). However, much confusion could be avoided if
authors were always to specify which aspects of spirituality they refer to when
using the term. Furthermore, the definitions were categorized based on
metaphysics in two groups: religion (idealism and/or interactive substance
dualism) based and science (secular/non-religion: materialism) based
spirituality. A working definition of spirituality is proposed below based on the
least problematic extended Dual-Aspect Monism (eDAM) metaphysics, which
brings them closer as discussed in (Vimal & Bhardwaj, 2015).

1.2.4. Our working definition of spirituality
The variety of definitions of spirituality entails that some investigators relate
spirituality with religion and some do not. Therefore, we can categorize the
above assigned meanings/definitions in two groups: religion-based and science
(secular/non-religion)-based spirituality. The metaphysics of all religions are
idealism/Advaita and/or interactive substance dualism/Sāṃkhya, and on the
contrary, that of science is materialism/Cārvāka/Lokāyata as elaborated in
(Vimal, 2012a, 2012b). Thus, this categorization can be also thought of on the
basis of metaphysics. If we reject all three problematic metaphysics and accept
the least problematic eDAM framework, then both groups of meanings
attributed to the term ‘spirituality’ can be reduced to our single working
definition:
Spirituality is defined as an experiential sub-aspect of consciousness, which
is the mental-aspect of a transcendental (spiritual) state of a mind-brain system
9

(or that of a brain-process) interacting with its environment, from the first-person
perspective (1pp). The environment can include other mind-brain systems, and
living and non-living systems. The spirituality or self-transcendence has three
components: self-forgetfulness, transpersonal identification, and mysticism.
Spirituality can be measured subjectively using a self-transcendence scale. Its
inseparable physical aspect from third person perspective (3pp) is related
neural-network and its activities, which can be measured using objective
method such as functional MRI.
The three components of spirituality and the self-transcendence scale of
(Cloninger, Svrakic, & Przybeck, 1993) are elaborated in (Hamer, 2005) and in
Sections 2.4. Any individual (theists, atheists, agnostics, humanists, hedonists,
and so on) can be spiritual.

1.3. Spirituality vs. Religion
Spirituality is heritable and has stronger genetic component than religion.
Religion is mostly transmitted by memes, which are “self-replicating units of
culture, ideas that are passed on from one individual to another through
writing, speech, ritual, and imitation” (Sheldrake, 2007). (p.13). As per Albert
Einstein (1879-1955), “Religion without science is blind; science without
religion is lame.” As per (Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006), “[tradition-oriented
religiousness] is associated with authoritarianism and traditionalism and, more
moderately, with collectivism versus individualism and with low Openness to
Experience. SS [subjective spirituality] is associated with absorption, fantasyproneness, dissociation, and beliefs of a magical or superstitious sort, as well
as eccentricity and high Openness to Experience.” As per (King & Koenig,
2009), “Being spiritual has become a way of putting distance between oneself
and religion, while holding onto something regarded as good.”

2. Metaphysics, Science, Religion, and Spirituality
2.1. Bringing Science, Religion, and Spirituality Closer via
Extended Dual-Aspect Monism (Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita)
As per (Vimal & Bhardwaj, 2015), “There are four major groups of
metaphysics (Vimal, 2012b, 2013):
(i) Materialism/Cārvāka/Lokāyata, where matter is fundamental and
mind is somehow derived from it.
(ii) Idealism/Advaita, where mind is fundamental and matter-in-itself is
somehow congealed from mind).
(iii) Interactive substance dualism/Sāṃkhya, where mind and matter
both are fundamental and independent but they can interact as needed.
(iv) Dual-Aspect Monism, where mind and matter are the inseparable
aspects of the same entity state. This is close to Kashmir Shaivism and
10

Viśiṣṭādvaita. These views are extended to the five-component extended DualAspect Monism (eDAM: Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita) framework (Vimal, 2008, 2010a,
2013, 2015c, 2015d), which is summarized in Section 1.2 of (Vimal, 2015a).”
The extended Dual-Aspect Monism (eDAM, Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita) brings
science, religion, and spirituality closer as elaborated in (Vimal & Bhardwaj,
2015).

2.2. Concepts of matter and definition of consciousness
To appreciate problems of metaphysics and their solutions, we need to first
understand concepts of matter and consciousness:
Concepts of matter: “There are two concepts of matter: (i) first, the
Yājñavalkya-Bādarāyaņa-Aristotle’s concept of matter, where matter has
rūpa/form and has the potentiality for experiences (Pereira Jr., 2013;
Radhakrishnan, 1960; Swami Krishnananda, 1983); it is used in our
frameworks (Pereira Jr., 2013; Pereira Jr., Vimal, & Pregnolato, 2015; Vimal,
2013). (ii) Second, the Kaṇāda-Democritus’ concept of matter (who identifies
matter with atoms/particles), which implies that matter is non-experiential
(Vimal, 2015c); it is used in all sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and
biology. The second concept misleads materialistic biologists who make grave
mistake of following non-experiential materialism that has serious unsolvable
problems and hence cannot address the hard problem of consciousness
(Chalmers, 1995). Biologists who follow Yājñavalkya-Bādarāyaņa-Aristotle’s
concept of matter should not have such problems” (Vimal, 2015a).
Definition of consciousness: There are about forty meanings attributed to the
term ‘consciousness’, which were categorized in two groups: function and
experience (Vimal, 2009b). Here, we use “the optimal definition (that has the
least number of problems) of consciousness, using Yājñavalkya-BādarāyaņaAristotle’s concept of matter, is: consciousness (a) is the mental aspect of a state
of the brain-mind system or that of a state of a brain-process in the first person
perspective (1pp), and (b) has two sub-aspects: conscious experience and
conscious function (Vimal, 2010b)” (Vimal, 2015a).

2.3. An extended version of Dual-Aspect Monism (eDAM)
framework
The extended dual-aspect monism framework (eDAM) is a monist framework
(Vimal, 2008, 2010a, 2013, 2015c, 2015d), which has five components that are
very concisely summarized below:
(I) Dual-Aspect Monism: This is detailed in (Vimal, 2008). Briefly, the
qualitative/mental and the physical aspects of a state of any entity (Godparticle to elementary particle to God-gene to cell/neuron to God-spot/Godmodule/neural-network to brain to family to society to city to country to whole
universe) are inseparable in dual-aspect monism; this can be called the
doctrine of inseparability. “The qualitative/mental aspect of an entity-state
11

comprises of: (a) the qualitative aspect of the entity-state which consists of
superposed potential basis-states related to forms, patterns of distribution of
matter/energy in space and time, and/or patterns of vibrations for both living
and non-living systems. And (b) the mental aspect of the entity-state which
consists of superposed potential basis-states (Section 1.2 of (Vimal, 2015c))
related to the potential primary irreducible subjective experiences (SEs)
representing the pre-existence of the potentiality of experiences for livingsystem and/or conscious artifacts. The degree of manifestation of 1pp-mental
aspect and that of the 3pp-physical aspect dependently co-arise (Vimal, 2009a);
this entails the inseparability between both aspects” (Vimal, 2015a).
(II) Dual-mode and matching and selection mechanisms: This is
elaborated in (Vimal, 2010a). Concisely, “the two modes are stimulusdependent-feed-forward-signals-related-mode and cognitive-feedback-signalsrelated-mode. They interact for conjugate matching and then the selection of a
specific subjective experience occurs and experienced by the self (Bruzzo &
Vimal, 2007) […] For experiencing a specific SE, there are three major
interacting signals: (i) stimulus-dependent feed forward (FF) signals, (ii) stimulirelated-memory-dependent cognitive feedback (FB) signals, and (iii) self-related
signal that is a part of reentrant FB signals. The self (a) is the SE of subject
(Bruzzo & Vimal, 2007), (b) consists of proto-self, core-self, and
autobiographical-self (Damasio, 2010), and (c) is the 1pp-mental aspect of a
state of ‘self-related neural network (such as cortical midline structures:
(Northoff & Bermpohl, 2004)) and its activities’. The matching/interaction is
between FF and FB signals; then the self-related signals interact with the
resultant signal representing the matching between stimulus-related FF signal
and cognitive FB signals; thus, there are interactions between the three major
signals; this interactive process can be called as ‘the specific SE is selected and
experienced by the self’ ” (Vimal, 2015a).
(III) Variation of the degree of manifestation of aspects: This is
discussed in (Vimal, 2013). The “concept of the varying degrees of the
manifestation (appearance/strength) of aspects” means that the degree đ of the
appearance and/or strength of aspects varies depending on the levels of
entities. At each level, the manifestation of aspects is through dependent coorigination (Nāgārjuna & Garfield, 1995; Vimal, 2015b), i.e., through coevolution, adaptation, natural selection, co-development and sensorimotor
tuning. For example, the degree of manifestation of mental aspect in an inert
non-conscious entity is zero and high in an awake-conscious entity. The third
component is varying degrees of manifestation (appearance/strength) of
physical aspect and qualitative/mental aspect depending on the levels of entities
and contexts, where contexts include entity-state, environment, background,
surround, and so on. In inert (nonliving) entities at classical level, such as a
molecule, the physical aspect of its state is from the objective third person
perspective (3pp) and the degree of its manifestation is high. […] The mental
aspect of a state of a living-system is from the subjective 1pp and the physical
12

aspect is from the objective 3pp. This implies that (a) the qualitative aspect,
such as forms and patterns, can be perceived or implicitly inferred from 3pp,
but (b) the mental aspect of a state of a non-living system is ‘latent’ to us from
3pp. This does not mean that nonliving systems have consciousness like us
that is hidden; rather, the qualitative/mental aspect of a state of a nonliving
entity carries potential proto-experiences in superposed form as a Nature’s
mechanism for the pre-existence of potential SEs. We perceive the form, pattern
of distribution of matter/energy in space and time, and/or pattern of vibration
related to an inert entity, which indicates the existence of its qualitative aspect.
Therefore, it is better to use the term ‘qualitative aspect’ in place of ‘mental
aspect’ for non-living systems to address some biologists’ skepticism; for the
same reason, we use ‘1pp-mental aspect’ for conscious states and ‘mental
aspect’ for non-conscious states” (Vimal, 2015c).
(IV) Necessary conditions of consciousness: This is elaborated in (Vimal,
2015d). “Briefly, the necessary conditions of access (reportable) consciousness
are the formation of neural-networks, wakefulness, reentrant interactions
among neural populations, fronto-parietal and thalamic-reticular-nucleus
attentional signals that modulate consciousness, integrated information in
‘complex’ of neural-network such as thalamocortical complexes with critical
spatiotemporal ‘grain-size’, working memory, stimulus contrast at or above
threshold level, and neural-network proto-experiences that are potential
subjective experiences. Attention and the ability to report are not necessary for
non-reportable phenomenal consciousness. The criterion for the selection of
necessary conditions of consciousness is that if any of these conditions is
missing, we will not have consciousness” (Vimal, 2015a).
(V) Segregation, differentiation, and integration of information: This is
detailed in (Vimal, 2015c). “Briefly, there are two steps: (i) the segregation of
information for the analysis of specific stimulus attribute and then (ii) the
integration of information for the synthesis of all attributes (related to
dimension such as redness, sub-mode such as color, and mode such as
vision), which results unified consciousness. In other words, the first stage of
processing is the segregation of information (such as the information related to
physical and conceptual attributes), which are analyzed and processed for
preciseness and specificity in different specialized neurons of related brain
areas. Then, the second stage of processing is the integration of information (or
binding of attributes) (related to different functions, concepts, experiences and
so on) in various neural-network-complexes, which results unified
consciousness. The term ‘differentiation’ signifies that there are a large number
of possible functions and potential experiences; this leads to higher effective
information (Tononi, 2004). The integrated information theory (IIT) of
consciousness (Balduzzi & Tononi, 2009; Tononi, 2004, 2008, 2012) is based
on the materialistic identity theory (consciousness is integrated information) or
to some extent panpsychism (Tononi & Koch, 2014). However, both materialism
and panpsychism have serious problems (Vimal, 2010b, 2013). Therefore, IIT is
13

interpreted in terms of more efficient metaphysics, such as the eDAM
framework in (Vimal, 2015c), which has the least number of problems; here,
information is a dual-aspect entity. In the eDAM framework, consciousness is
the 1pp-mental aspect of a state of related neural network that has high
amount of integrated mental-information Φmental. Consciousness has two subaspects: (a) the experiential aspect such as SEs including feelings, emotionand thought-related experiences and (b) the functional aspect such as related
functions. The 3pp-physical aspect of this state is the correlated neuralnetwork (such as thalamocortical main complex) and its activity as its neural
substrate that has high amount of integrated physical-information Φphysical,
which is close to the term ‘integrated information’ Φ used in (Tononi, 2004,
2008, 2012) and (Balduzzi & Tononi, 2009). Since 1pp-mental and 3ppphysical aspects are inseparable, ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ information related to
the same brain-mind state are also inseparable” (Vimal, 2015a).

2.4. Genetics of spirituality and religion
The followings are derived from (Hamer, 2005), (Vimal, 2012b), and other
sources (such as Wikipedia).
God Gene hypothesis: As per ((Hamer, 2005).p4-5) religious and spiritual
convictions are indeed strong; as per surveys, more than 95% of Americans
believe in God; 90% meditate or pray; 82% believe in miracles performed by
God; more than 70% believe in life-after-death.
There is a biological mechanism for spirituality: “we have a genetic
predisposition for spiritual belief that is expressed in response to, and shaped
by, personal experience and the cultural environment. These genes … act by
influencing the brain’s capability for various types and forms of consciousness,
which become the basis for spiritual experiences” ((Hamer, 2005).p.8). In
addition, many different genes are involved in spirituality, and environment
influences are equally important.
Religiosity/spirituality demonstrates heritability because some people are
more religious/spiritual than others because of genetic differences based on
the study of twins reared apart and together (Waller, Kojetin, Bouchard,
Lykken, & Tellegen, 1990) and on the basis of molecular human genetic such
as a ‘God gene’/VMAT2 (Hamer, 2005).
The God gene hypothesis3 proposes that a specific gene (VMAT2)
predisposes humans towards spiritual or mystic experiences and is based on a
combination of behavioral genetic, neurobiological and psychological studies.
The major arguments of the theory are: (i) spirituality can be quantified by
psychometric measurements; (ii) the underlying tendency to spirituality is
partially heritable; (iii) part of this heritability can be attributed to the gene
VMAT2; (iv) this gene acts by altering monoamine levels; and (v) spiritual
3

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_gene

14

individuals are favored by natural selection because they are provided with an
innate sense of optimism, the latter producing positive effects at either a
physical and psychological level.
(Mathews, 2008) proposes the followings: A specific gene or set of genes are
responsible for the emergence of a specific trait or universal physical
characteristic, which has its neural correlates. For example, spirituality is also
a genetically inherited trait; it has specific gene(s) (such as VMAT2 gene or God
gene); it has spiritual cognitive function of experiencing self-transcendence;
and it has neural correlates such as God module(s) from which spiritual
cognition, sensation and behavior somehow arise. In other words, we are
perhaps ‘hard-wired’ to experience such spiritual feelings, in analogy to
honeybees are forced to construct hexagonal shaped hives. “God is not
necessarily something that exists ‘out there,’ beyond and independent of us,
but rather as the product of an inherited perception, the manifestation of an
evolutionary adaptation that exists within the human brain” (Mathews, 2008).
The self-transcendence and its three components are elaborated in (Vimal &
Bhardwaj, 2015). Einstein connected mysticism, creativity, and spirituality as,
“The most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can
experience is the sensation of the mystical. In addition, this mysticality is the
power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle
spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In
essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable
superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to
perceive with our frail and feeble minds.”

Three premises of God gene theory ((Hamer, 2005).p.137-9): (i) The
central to spirituality is the sense of self. (ii) The brain process of
consciousness entails our sense of self and of the world around us, which is
related to the primary consciousness. (iii) Monoamines play central role in
feelings, emotions, and values via VMAT2 gene, which is related to the
secondary consciousness. Once meditation starts, the meditators focus all of
their mental energy on the brain’s association area. This results the partial
shutdown of parietal lobe orientation area that is mediated by thalamus. This
in turn sends off signals to the limbic system via the limbic system via the
hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus. This results in varying degrees of
mental excitement depending on the individual. The feeling of spirituality is
related to emotions, not intellect. It is the subject’s genetic makeup that
determines how spiritual s/he is. We feel God, we do not know Him.
Genes and memes ((Hamer, 2005).p.161-179): “Although gene-based
spirituality is private and related to inner feelings and beliefs, it is entangled
with meme-based religion that is more public and structured form. As per
(Dawkins, 1998), memes are transmittable unit of culture, such as songs,
15

poems, articles, books, and advertising jingles. (Blackmore, 1999) defines
memes as ‘instructions for carrying out behaviors, stored in brains (or other
objects) and passed on by imitation’. Memes, like genes, are selfish because
they only care if they are efficiently copied from one brain to another; they do
not care about the harm done to the copier/brains, such as meme ‘smoking
cigarettes is cool’. As genes are useful for understanding biology, memes are
useful for understanding the transmission of culture. […] both memes (culture)
and genes contribute on personal religious beliefs. […] The complicated dance
between genes for spirituality and religious memes, such as DNA studies of
Jews and Hindus show sociocultural religious practices related to marriages”
(Vimal, 2012b).
God is still alive ((Hamer, 2005).p.197-215): “One could argue that as
science and technology progress, faith in God will decrease. However, this
hypothesis seems rejected. […] spirituality and mysticism were well developed
starting from 6000 years ago in the Vedic system of India and various other
parts of world. All these suggest that God is still alive. […] There is no way to
test objectively if life-after-death, the continuation of consciousness, soul, and
rebirth exist. (Dawkins, 1998) argues that there is no reason to believe gods
exist and quite good reason for believing that gods do not exist. Evolution is
sufficient to explain life, but cannot reject God. Hamer argues three ideas:
(i) The hypothesis of a God gene VMAT2 is silent on the existence of God; it
only suggests that a subject is predisposed on spirituality or not. It is beyond
theism and atheism. Atheists can argue that spiritual experiences like all other
experiences must be interpreted in terms of biologically constructed brains.
Theists can argue that God let us recognize his presence via God gene and
prewired God module and the brain-scan experiments of Persinger,
Ramachandran, and Newberg (Newberg, d’Aquili, & Rause, 2002; Persinger,
1983, 1987; Ramachandran & Blakeslee, 1998; Ramachandran, Hirstein,
Armel, Tecoma, & Iragul, 1997).
(ii) Spirituality is partly genetic; this does not mean that it is hardwired.
Spirituality enlightenment is based on practice; it takes lots of time and
practice to attain samādhi/enlightened state; there is significant positive
correlation between meditation practice and self-transcendence.
(iii) Spirituality is based in consciousness and is genetic (such as God gene)
and universal; whereas, religion is based in cognition and is memetic (such as
culture, traditions, beliefs, and ideas) and cultures have their own forms of
religion. Both are beneficial to our physical, mental, spiritual, and social
health; both make us feel better and actually make us better people; they
mutually help each other. The self-transcendence (self-forgetfulness,
transpersonal identification, and mysticism) is measure of spirituality is
partially inherited; VMAT2 is one of the God genes that codes for a protein,
which control the flow in and out of monoamines that modulate consciousness
and emotions. Spirituality is about the way we perceive the world and our role
in it, which is a consciousness mediated process” (Vimal, 2012b).
16

2.5. Neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neurochemistry of
religiosity and/or spirituality
God modules hypothesis/religion regions are elaborated in (Vimal &
Bhardwaj, 2015). In addition, one could argue that religious scientific data can
be explained as a by-product of some other functions. For example, spiritualmystical/religious experiences and their neural correlates might represent a
sort of mis- or hyper-activation of other adaptive functions designed for other
(nonreligious) purposes by evolution and natural selection (Vimal, 2012b).
Religion, spirituality, evolution, natural selection, God modules, God genes,
and religion-as-adaptation are elaborated in (Vimal, 2015b) except the
followings (Vimal, 2012b):
1. One could argue that religion/spirituality is a product of evolution,
natural selection, and adaptation and hence has adaptive benefits.
2. From above, the claim is that our religious beliefs and behaviors and
spiritual experiences can arise from our mind-brain-environment-culture
system.
3. If scientifically useless idea of ‘intelligent design’ is rejected, only the
theory of evolution by natural selection and adaptive benefits can coherently
explain the complex ‘design’ of living organisms.
4. (Kirkpatrick, 2006) proposes multiple–by-products hypothesis for
religion, which implies that religion is not an adaptation, rather it is just the
by-products of a variety of psychological mechanisms that evolved for other
purposes. On the other hand, (Bulbulia, 2006) argues for the religion-asadaptation hypothesis.
5. The functions of religiosity/spirituality ranged from the reduction of
anxiety (such as fear of death) to providing various meaningful worldviews to
the promotion of group solidarity.
Neural correlates of religiosity and/or spirituality are elaborated in (Vimal,
2015b)

2.6. Physics and Metaphysics: God Particle hypothesis
The Higgs boson (mass between 125–127 GeV/c2) has been referred to as
the ‘God particle’ in popular culture because of its possible role in producing a
fundamental property of elementary particles, although virtually all scientists
regard this as a hyperbole. (Lederman & Teresi, 1993) appears to equate Higgs
Boson with the God Particle, perhaps inappropriately. This is because God (or
universal consciousness) is presumably responsible for the creation of universe
and our consciousness. A genuine God particle is an entity from which our
Universe was born. If Higgs field is the fundamental unified field in
unmanifested state (same or similar to unmanifested state of primal entity
such as Brahman) and its manifestation is the Higgs Boson (Higgson), then all
17

four major forces, fermions, and bosons should be somehow derived from it
Higgson as the manifestation of universal consciousness: One could argue that
Higgson is the manifestation of a more fundamental entity (see also (Zeps,
2012)), namely, the universal consciousness. (Hu & Wu, 2011) have
conjectured that the new particle discovered at the LHC, if real, is possibly the
manifestation of the zero-spin particle of the proposed principle of existence.
The candid ‘God particle’ should (a) explain the creations of bosons and
fermions, the gravitational force, the strong force, the weak force, the
electromagnetic force, the origin of the Universe, the universal consciousness,
and our consciousness and experiences. To sum up, in the eDAM framework,
“each fermion or boson including Higgs boson and field has inseparable mental
and physical aspects. Higgs field may be related to primal dual-aspect entity
(such as dual-aspect unmanifested Brahman) from which universe arose via
quantum fluctuations in primal empty-space (ground state of quantum field
with minimum energy or zero energy with zero space-time)” (Vimal, 2012b).

3. Benefits and problems of religiosity and/or spirituality
The benefits 1 to 5 of Section 3.1 and problems (Section 3.2) of religiosity
and/or spirituality are adapted from (Vimal, 2012b), which are derived from
(Hamer, 2005) and other sources. As per ((Hamer, 2005).p.197-215), religions
survive because they provide essential social services, confidence, guidance in
life, and solace from life’s calamities. However, established religions have
negative sides as well, such as wars, crusades, and jihads (such as ‘9/11’ in
USA and ‘26/11’ in India). Our genes (such as God gene) can predispose us
towards spirituality; but do not tell us what to believe in; faith and beliefs in
any religion are cultural and evolve over time.

3.1. Benefits
1. The data on religion and health are against the views of (Dawkins, 1976;
Dawkins, 1998) that the religion is not intrinsically beneficial. For example, the
data indicate less immune system dysfunction, hypertension, cancer, coronary
artery disease, stroke, and functional impairment, fewer negative health
behaviors (such as, drugs and alcohol abuse, smoking, risky sexual behaviors,
and inactive lifestyle), and lower overall mortality ((Koenig et al., 2001), p. 394).
As per (King & Koenig, 2009), “One of the most enduring is that spiritual
and religious beliefs persist because they promote social cohesion and reduce
our fear of death [26,27]. Others have included the phenomenology of mental
events, our human first-person experience and use of language[18,28], and
natural selection of neural pathways implicated in so-called spiritual
perception, presumably because it has survival value[29,30].”
2. “In the majority of studies, with respect to mental health, religious and
spiritual involvement correlated with:
• Well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction,
18











Hope and optimism,
Purpose and meaning in life,
Higher self-esteem,
Adaptation to bereavement,
Greater social support and less loneliness,
Lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression,
Lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes toward suicide,
Less anxiety,
Less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies,
Lower rates of alcohol and drug use or abuse,
Greater marital stability and satisfaction” (Bulbulia, 2006).

3. (Bulbulia, 2006) concludes as follows:
(i). Better health for religious agent and self-deception: (a) Both religion
and self-deception are based on false premises but are evolved, adapted and
selected. One could ask why. Perhaps, both are useful in our lives. Religion
helps in restoring and maintaining individual well-being. Religious people live
longer, healthier, and better-adjusted lives, even though religion is costly and
risky. (b) Both have optimal design. For example, self-deception works best
when it is complete, targeted to exchange, and encapsulated from other
problem domains. Religion works best when it is certain, targeted to stress
reduction, and encapsulated from other problem domains.
(ii). McClenon’s hypothesis about the evolution of religious healing: (a) If we
firmly believe in supernatural entities (God, soul, and life-after death), we will
be able to adjust to hardship and disease more effectively than nonreligious
secularists will. (b) Believers are evolved to distort and bias experience to
support religion and religious healing.
(iii). Why religious healing is an adaptationist explanation for human
religiosity: (a) One could ask if there is any intrinsic relationship between
religious placebo healing and god worship when nonreligious sugar pills
placebo effect does not need any deity. However, both involve firm belief.
(iv). Benefits of cooperation and high risk of commitments: (a) Religiosity
generates intense individual and group-level benefits by helping individuals to
cooperate rather than defect. (b) Enhanced cooperation and coordination
among members of society due to religion provide powerful incentives to the
blind evolution, selection, and adaptation of religious dispositions in us. (c) The
benefits of cooperation and religious healings require firm commitments from
members, which in turn require hard-to-fake high religious costs, such as
risky, time-consuming ritual participation, emotional display, and high stress
in defectors in the same family.
4. “Spirituality is more secured than religion. For this, practicing meditation
and attaining the samādhi state is better method because one enjoys 3 kinds of
experiences:
(i) bliss (million times regular happiness) because limbic19

amygdala-nucleus-accumbens (pleasure center) in the basal forebrain are
activated; (ii) inner light perception (yogi experiences pleasant light everywhere
with eyes closed: visual areas are activated leading to cortical phosphenes); and
(iii) the unification of subject and the objects when yogi opens his eyes, which
is due to the deactivation of parietal lobe (responsible for subject-object
discrimination) and activation of frontal lobe” (Vimal, 2012b).
5. Faith Healing, religion and health, placebo, power of prayer, monoamine
effects, nocebo effect, and selfish spiritual gene: As per ((Hamer, 2005).p.143-6):
(i) Faith and beliefs certainly have placebo effect. If spirituality and religion
can improve human health and prolong life, God genes certainly have selective
advantage.
(ii) Frequent visitors to religious places (such as temple, church, mosque
and so on) lived longer because they have good health habits such as no
smoking.
(iii) Religious organizations promote good health habits and lifestyles (such
as work out, get married and stay married, refrain from alcohol consumption,
develop a greater number of friendships, and so on).
(iv) If God genes improve health and longevity and promote spirituality and
faith, people will less likely to become ill and die early. Therefore, it will be
more likely that they will pass on these genes to their children. Evolution cares
only how many children one produces, not how long one lives.
(v) (Harris et al., 1999) suggested, ‘prayer may be an effective adjunct to
standard medical care.’ Prayer is popular because of its irrefutability,
economical (does not cost money, time, and effort), feeling good; it releases
dopamine (‘feel good’ chemical). As long as patients believe that they are getting
real drug or treatment, placebo treatments (such as sugar pills) can relieve
symptom or even cure a disease (such as depression, Parkinson disease, pain
management,
ulcers,
rheumatism,
dysmenorrhea,
herpes,
asthma,
seasickness, acne, migraines, and various neurological conditions); they are
about 60% effective as the real medicine. Therefore, faith in God should have
the same effect as placebo and perhaps more. For example, placebo release
dopamine in Parkinson’s disease as does the medicine levodopa; dopamine is
‘feeling good’ brain chemical; dopamine is one of several monoamines that are
influenced by VMAT2 gene.
6. Mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR): MBCR involves training the
subjects in mindfulness meditation and gentle Hatha yoga; and the supportiveexpressive group therapy (SET) involves emotional expression and group
support to them. These two techniques seem to maintain the length of
chromosomal telomeres in distressed breast cancer survivors (Carlson et al.,
2015).
7. Spirituality enhances mental health: According to (Cornah, 2006):
20

(i) Literature shows the positive effect of yoga and meditation on mental
health and reduction in anxiety.
(ii) There are different studies reported on link between religionspirituality and trauma-based mental health problems. Each studies shows
different results but each study reported that the positive religious coping,
religious openness, readiness to face existential questions, religious
participation, and intrinsic religiousness are typically associated with improved
post-traumatic recovery. So conclusion is that “religion plays a central role in
the processes of reconstructing a sense of self and recovery”.
(iii) Yoga and hence spirituality are the robust course of knowledge.
According to (Ahuja, 2014), by practicing yoga a person is supposed to reach a
state of mental equanimity, where responses to favorable or unfavorable
external events are well under the individual’s control, and responses are
moderate in intensity. It also helps to reduce the stress level, psycho
physiological measurements related to anxiety and depression. Unique
frequency pattern of OM represent different forms of consciousness, not simply
degrees of relaxation.
(iv) According to (Kohls et.al., 2011), if a person gains an insight from
spirituality then s/he can fight with the level of distress, placebo responses and
effects and create positivity, motivation, social coherent and healing
environment.

3.2. Problems of religiosity and/or spirituality
1. Some studies such as (Strawbridge, Shema, Cohen, Roberts, & Kaplan,
1998) suggest that religiosity may worsen stress. Religious placebo healings
that is based on imaginary supernatural worlds do not reveal why religion heals
rather than secular placebos. One could argue that some of religious beliefs
and rituals are unhealthy, such as consuming the flesh and blood of the deity,
ritually chopping bits of penis off, and believing in Judgment Day.
2. If the agent knows that the supernatural entities (such as God, soul, lifeafter-death, which are the main premises) do not exist, then s/he (such as
atheists/scientists) will not believe firmly on supernatural entities (such as
God) and the placebo faith healing will not work and the benefits of religions
will be reduced or eliminated. This means that errors must be encapsulated
(concealed) from such problems to work properly.
3. If one of the spouse is a non-believer or agnostic and the other is very
religious; then stress is usually generated between them. The point is that
religion can also create problems; it is all placebo effect; in these cases,
spirituality is better because it is for all.
4. As per ((Hamer, 2005).p.143-6), nocebo is the opposite of placebo and its
effects are the causation of sickness, or even death, purely by
expectation/belief; for example, evil-tāntrik’s sickness and death and ‘voodoo
death’. These might be related to shift in serotonin level, which is ‘feel bad’
brain-chemical and may lead to negative emotions such as fear, anxiety,
21

hostility, and pessimism; these effects have poorer recovery from disease and
shortens life span. In other words, faith or belief including God alters the brain.
5. Problems of spirituality: As per (Martin, 2010), “Spirituality without
religion can become a self-centered complacency divorced from the wisdom of a
community.”
As per (King et al., 2013), “People who have a spiritual understanding of life
in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder [for
example, 77% more likely than the others to be drug-dependent, 72% more
likely to have a phobia, and 50% more likely to suffer from a generalized
anxiety].” Here, spirituality is defined by definitions (xvii) and (xviii) of Section
1.2. These problems occur most likely because the subjects are tuned to
problematic metaphysics, such as idealism, interactive substance dualism
and/or materialism. This hypothesis is testable by educating them to refrain
themselves from such metaphysics and follow the least problematic eDAM
framework.

4. Conclusions
1. The dominant metaphysics of science is materialism and that of religion
are idealism and/or interactive substance dualism; these metaphysics have
serious problems as elaborated in (Vimal, 2012a, 2012b). The five-component
extended dual-aspect monism (eDAM, Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita) framework (Vimal,
2008, 2010a, 2013, 2015c, 2015d) is the best metaphysics so far because it
has the least number of problems.
2. Spirituality is an alerted (4th transcendental) state of our mind-brain
system. Its 1pp-mental aspect has 3 components: self-forgetfulness,
transpersonal identification, and mysticism (Hamer, 2005), which can be
subjectively measured using the self-transcendence scale of (Cloninger et al.,
1993). Its inseparable 3pp-physical aspect is related neural-network and its
activities, which can be measured using objective method such as functional
MRI and other method.
3. The eDAM metaphysics brings science and religions closer as elaborated
in (Vimal, 2012a, 2012b). Any person (atheist, theist, agnostic, humanists,
hedonists, and so on) can be spiritual and the eDAM framework brings
religion-based and science-based spirituality closer.
4. Religiosity and spirituality have many benefits; however, religions have
problems as well (Section 3).

Competing Interests
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Authors’ contributions
RLPV had the original idea for the paper; SB wrote the benefits 6 and 7 of
Section 3.1; RLPV wrote the rest; both reviewed the article.
22

Acknowledgments
The work was partly supported by VP-Research Foundation Trust and
Vision Research Institute research Fund. Author would like to thank
anonymous colleagues and Shilpi Bhardwaj for critical comments, discussion,
and suggestions. Author would like to acknowledge that Shilpi Bhardwaj
contributed ‘Spirituality enhances mental health’ benefit of Section 3.2 and
author is very thankful to her. RLPV is also affiliated with Dristi Anusandhana
Sansthana, A-60 Umed Park, Sola Road, Ahmedabad-61, Gujrat, India; Dristi
Anusandhana Sansthana, c/o NiceTech Computer Education Institute, Pendra,
Bilaspur, C.G. 495119, India; and Dristi Anusandhana Sansthana, Sai Niwas,
East of Hanuman Mandir, Betiahata, Gorakhpur, U.P. 273001 India. URL:
http://sites.google.com/site/rlpvimal/Home.

23

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Endnotes
1

The eight emerged themes from 27 definitions of spirituality: As per
(McCarroll et al., 2005), “The eight themes [related to spirituality] that emerged
[from the 27 definitions of spirituality] were [1] meaning and purpose; [2]
connection and relationship; [3] God/god(s)/Transcendent Other; [4]
transcendent Self; [5] vital principle; [6] unifying force or integrative energy; [7]
personal and private; and [8] hope. Most the definitions included at least two of
the concepts listed in the eight themes. […] 1. Meaning and Purpose [in life
…] Nine of these [23 (that had the concepts of meaning and purpose) out of 27
(that had explicit definitions) out of 68 (that had operative definitions) out of 76
(that were searched) articles] identify that spirituality is that which shapes
one’s values and approach to life and one’s orientation to the universe. In part
of a definition, spirituality is described as ‘the underlying dimension of
consciousness which strives for meanings’ (Smith, 1995, p.403). Meaning and
purpose in life are understood, in some cases, to be that towards which
humans consciously yearn, and in other cases, as humans giving meaning and
purpose to life through unconscious meaning-making systems. When
discussed, religious belief is considered as a meaning-making system in which
an individual attempts to fulfill the human longing to find meaning, purpose,
and fulfillment in life. The meaning and purpose in life includes life both in its
particularity and universality, in its ordinary ‘everyday-ness,’ and in its
‘extraordinariness.’ In nine [out of 23/27/68/76] articles, spirituality as
meaning and purpose [in life] is seen to manifest itself in a quest towards selfactualization and the search for human integrity. 2. Connection and
relationship [within the self, with others, the natural world, the cosmos,
and/or a Transcendent Other] [22/27 articles…] An individual’s [connections
and] relationships with self, other, the cosmos, and god/God are understood to
be reflective of and shaped by one’s spirituality. 3. God/god(s)/Transcendent
Other [22/27…] The majority of these definitions emphasize that a relationship
with God/god(s)/Transcendent Other is not only the primary manifestation of
spirituality (as in theme 2 above) is also the origin of spirituality. […] Where
most definitions identity that everyone is spiritual but not religious, others
equate spirituality with religion. 4. Transcendent Self [:] In twelve [out of 27]
articles spirituality is understood as the means of enabling the individual to
transcend [that, which goes beyond] the self in one capacity or another
(Bendsley, 1991; Berggren-Thomas & Griggs, 1995; Burkhardt, 1989; Dossey &
Guzzetta, 1994; Emblen, 1992; Harrson, 1993; Miller, 1995; Paton, 1996; Peri,
1995; Presti, 1990; Reed, 1992; Ross, 1995). In some instances spirituality is
viewed as that which enables the transcending of emotional and/or physical
pain. In other instances it is that which enables the transcending of the self so
as to identify with the experiences of another person. This understanding of
transcendence is anthropocentric [human supremacy] in each case. [In modern
philosophy, Kant introduced a new term — transcendental, thus instituting a
31

new, third meaning. In his theory of knowledge, this concept is concerned with
the conditions of possibility of knowledge itself. He also opposed the
term transcendental to the term transcendent, the latter meaning "that, which
goes beyond" (transcends) any possible knowledge of a human being.[1] For
him transcendental meant knowledge about our cognitive faculty with regard to
how objects are possible a priori. "I call all knowledgetranscendental if it is
occupied, not with objects, but with the way that we can possibly know objects
even before we experience them."[2] ] 5. Vital Principle [11/27 …] The vital
[energetic] principle [as a central aspect of spirituality] is understood as the
creative force in self and/or world and/or universe. In these definitions, vital
principle transcends or integrates subject-object dichotomies. It is a nonpersonified, incorporeal [spiritual, mental], common element that ‘vitalizes’ the
whole person and/or the cosmos. 6. Unifying force or Integrative energy [:]
Ten of the definitions [10/27] refer to spirituality as the unifying force or
integrative energy within the individual and/or world and/or cosmos […] Like
the theme above (vital principle), this understanding assumes something that
transcends subject-object dichotomies. However, the aforementioned theme
and this one differ in function. The unifying force/integrative energy is a nonpersonified, incorporeal common energy that unified reality. 7. Personal and
Private [:] Seven [7/27] articles highlight in their definitions that spirituality is
personal and private in nature (Bendsley, 1991; Emblen, 1992; Heriot, 1992;
McKee & Chappel, 1992; Miller, 1995; Naranyanasamy, 1996; Oldnall, 1996).
All of these emphasize the subjectivity of spirituality and the fact that it is
judgmental and value-laden. Connected with this focus on the personal and
private nature of spirituality is a reticence [uncommunicativeness] for
addressing spirituality in the health care setting. There is fear that if
understanding of spirituality are standardized, it will become exclusive, and
not be open to a diversity of experiences and perspectives. 8. Hope [:] In four
[4/27] articles, hope is included in the definitions of spirituality […] Hope is
understood both as a will to live and as an ability to come through a crisis and
loss of health. Some of these definitions closely connect hope with meaning and
purpose (see theme 1) with the explanation that it is a sense of meaning and
purpose in life that gives hope. Overview [:] Some of the themes in the
definitions imply a human and individualistic notion of reality (4 and 7),
whereas others imply a cosmic or corporate [group] notion of reality (5 and 6).
Some imply a cognitive understanding of the self (1 and 8), whereas others
imply a wholistic notion of the self (2, 5, and 6). Some affirm belief in
something beyond the self as the starting point for discussions of spirituality
(not necessarily connected with religion) (2, 3, 5, and 6). Others suggest that
the starting point is the self (4, 5, 6, and 7) and those conceptualizations that
allows the self to continue (1 and 8). […Epistemology of Spirituality] Using
‘spirituality’ as the focus, the five perspectives can be identified
epistemologically as follows: spirituality is known practically; spirituality is
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known phenomenologically; spirituality is known linguistically; spirituality is
known in subjective experience; spirituality is an unknowable mystery.
1. Spirituality is known practically […] Ideally, each definition of
spirituality should correspond with a specific practice of spiritual care and a
specific set of goals for spiritual well-being. In this perspective, there is a
measurable internal consistency between definition, practice, and goals in
health care. When one of the triad is measurable out of whack, the system
needs to be reworked either by reconstructing the definition to make it more
meaningful or by reworking the practice or goals so they more aptly correspond
to the definition. […] 2. Spirituality is known phenomenologically […] In
this perspective, spirituality is understood to have a singular and inclusive
reality (shape and structure) of its own that is manifested in phenomena and
can recognized by the human. The language [communication] of human
experience is one way that the reality of spirituality manifests itself. [Elephant
proverb…] In this [greater agreement] perspective, spirituality is firstly a
transcendent constant, an origin or form by which human experiences of and
even language for spiritualty are manifested. […] 3. Spirituality is known
linguistically […] Language is understood to be about meaning, and meaning
is considered to be that which human life most seeks. … As such, spirituality,
however it is defined, is a meaning-making system. […] 4. Spirituality is
known in subjective experience […] In direct contrast to the previous
interpretation, this perspective understands that spirituality is considered to be
subjective and experiential. Experience is the a priori to expression or
communication of experience. It has a shape of its own that is interpreted and
reinterpreted by language and the integration of life experiences. Giving voice to
one’s experience of spiritualty is part of the integrating process. Language and
expression have a fluidity that is related to personal experience, though it is
not fully definitive of it. Plurality in our understandings of spirituality is
necessary given the uniqueness of individual experiences—the uniqueness of
human lives. Any totalizing theory of spirituality is considered to undermine
the integrity of the ideal/truth of individual experience. In some sense, there
may be a take-it-or-leave-it feeling towards into spirituality in this perspective.
Because spirituality is necessarily relativistic, further research, if done, would
focus on elaborating upon the vast plurality in the understandings of
spirituality, which will ideally vary from person to person through-out the
world. As a practitioner, the goal is to understand and to articulate one’s own
experience of spirituality, to help the client articulate his/her own experience,
and to move towards greater integration within this relational framework. The
act of defining one’s own understanding of spirituality is a second step towards
reflecting upon experience, and is thereby considered to be a goal of therapy.
[…] 5. Spirituality is an unknowable mystery [:] In this perspective,
spiritualty is considered to be a mystery, ultimately unknowable through
human language or conceptualization. […plurality or multiplicity of the
33

definitions of spirituality on the basis of love (not tyranny) rather than
tolerance of plurality… Conclusion …] we have considered the ways plurality
can be contemplated within a larger whole. In so doing, the notion of tolerance
has been critiqued as the content of the whole, the basis upon which plurality
exists. Instead, we propose that love is the content of the whole within which
plurality can healthfully exist. The understanding of love as openness,
receptivity and attentiveness to ‘otherness’ provides a conceptual framework by
which to live and think healthfully in out pluralistic context. Love, when
understood as that which attends to ‘otherness’ and opposes tyranny in all its
forms, invites us to qualitatively discern the good from the bad—that is,
healthy spirituality from unhealthy (or non-) spirituality.”
2

As per (Reinert & Koenig, 2013), “Some nursing scholars see these varied
conceptualizations as appropriate due to the diversity of culture, individualized
preferences and personal spiritual definitions (Paley 2008a, Pesut 2008a, Pike
2011).
[… spirituality is the independent of the country of origin]
conceptualizations of spirituality can be influenced by one’s culture and
philosophical backgrounds, which may be religious or secular in nature (Pike
2011, Hsiao et al. 2010, Lundberg & Kerdonfag 2010, Mok et al. 2010, Swinton
2006). […]
Current definitions in nursing have focused on distancing spirituality from
religion (Lane 1987, Burkhartdt 1989, Emblen 1992, Buck 2006, McBrien
2006, Sessanna et al. 2007) while focusing more on meaning, purpose, hope,
value, emotion, connectedness, transcendence, existential experience,
power/force/energy and beliefs (Chiu et al. 2004, McCarroll et al. 2005, MillerWilliams 2006, Ellis & Narayanasamy 2009). Tanyi (2002) and Pesut et al.
(2009) point out that nursing should be concerned with spirituality, rather
than religion. However, meaning and purpose in life and a sense of peace concepts used in several spirituality studies – are known as core mental health
symptoms according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) […]
Tinley and Kinney (2007) described three philosophical approaches to the
study of spirituality: The first one is the ‘empiricist’ approach, which focuses on
the need to have an objective measurement of the concept so it can be verified
(Tinley & Kinney 2007, p. 72). […] A second approach is … ‘interpretivism’ and
draws from anti-reductionism and deterministic views in the study of one’s
experience (p.72). In this view, nothing is more important than the collective,
cultural meaning each individual has, so the focus is not on the objective
measures which minimize bias, but rather on the uniqueness of one’s
experience and the assigned meaning they place on them. This paradigm
naturally fits qualitative methods that are fully open to the uniqueness of an
individual’s experience. Lastly, the ‘poststructuralism’ paradigm does not
attempt to measure concepts. Rather it views knowledge and truth as
34

incomplete and biased. Poststructuralism puts the previous two paradigms into
question (Tinley & Kinney 2007, p. 27). […]
Berry (2005) notes that the inconsistencies in definitions go from biological
origins of spirituality, to animating energy forces and finally to more traditional
definitions rooted in religious beliefs and practices. […] Berry’s critique is in
part reflective of the ‘empiricist’ perspective. In contrast, others advocate for
not having one consistent definition but rather being inclusive and open to
individual interpretations […] One argument is that spirituality must be
contextualized to the individual and culture and that it is a changing concept
which may have many meanings according to the situation (Pike 2011). Others
add that the ambiguity of this concept can provide richness in translating
individual differences in the perception of spirituality […] This inclusive and
generous view of spirituality seems to be reflective of the ‘interpretist’ paradigm
(Tinley & Kinney 2007). […]
makes even atheists, agnostics, humanists and hedonists spiritual one way
or another. He proposes ‘methodological agnosticism’ so as to embrace a belief
in favor of a ‘utilitarian’ perspective that evaluates spirituality and theology in
the same way (Paley 2009, p. 1971). This idea is closest related to
‘poststructuralism’ where the goal is to reform the inequities of the society and
to challenge both of the other paradigms (Tinley & Kinney 2007). […] After all,
improving the health and well-being of the whole person (mentally, physically
and spiritually) has been at the heart of nursing since its inception […]
Defining Spirituality in Religious Involvement: Why and How … For
questions focusing on spiritual care in a clinical setting perhaps the
‘poststructuralism’ perspective with ‘elastic’ definitions of spirituality may be
relevant and appropriate (Paley 2009). […]
definition of spirituality in nursing research is: [‘] Spirituality is
distinguished from other things –humanism, values, morals and mental health
– by its connection to the transcendent. The transcendent is that which is
outside of the self and yet al.so within the self – and in Western traditions is
called God, Allah, HaShem, or a Higher Power and in Eastern traditions is
called Ultimate Truth or Reality, Vishnu, Krishna, or Buddha. Spirituality is
intimately connected to the supernatural and religion, although also extends
beyond religion (and begins before it). Spirituality includes a search for the
transcendent and so involves traveling along the path that leads from nonconsideration to a decision not to believe to questioning to belief to devotion to
surrender (Koenig et al. 2012, p.46).[’]
[Conclusion:] We believe appropriate definitions and methods - according to
the setting and research question - may transform the way nurses do research
in spirituality and health by allowing us to capture more accurately the impact
it may have on health outcomes. We propose this definition should be distinct
from one used in a clinical setting. This distinction is critical to ensure
inclusive spiritual care to anyone (religious or not) while also carrying strong
35

research aimed at identifying effective coping strategies for better mental health
outcomes. […] Further work is needed by nurse researchers to clarify not only
the
influence
of
spirituality
on
health
but
also
identify
the
psychoneuroimmunology mechanisms by which that influence may occur. …
populations exposed to violence, trauma, adversity and illness.”

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