Why would you need religion, mysticism, or spirituality to expand your mind? Or, blow it. Science works just fine.
Much better, in fact, because science starts with is rather than what could be. If you're going to expand or blow your mind, you might as well be standing on a solid foundation before you explode into mindlessness.
Take the question of the universe's beginning and end.
Most of us assume that the universe began at some point. After all, the Bible tells us so in Genesis. And if we're scientifically minded, wasn't the Big Bang the beginning of time and space?
No, not necessarily.
Yesterday I was happily reading along in my copy of The Portable Atheist, re-reading an excerpt from physicist Victor Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis (I've already read the book, and blogged about it here and here).
My mind was rolling along fine, connecting ideas cleanly, until I came to this paragraph.
Craig and other theists also make another, related argument that the universe had to have a beginning at some point, because if it were infinitely old, it would have taken an infinite time to reach the present. However, as philosopher Keith Parsons has pointed out, "To say the universe is infinitely old is to say that it had no beginning – not a beginning that was infinitely long ago."
Mind blow! Red alert! Meltdown, meltdown!
I stopped reading. I put the book down. I tried to let the notion of a universe that had no beginning settle into what was left of my mind.
It was an enjoyable, though disconcerting, experience. Like being on the edge of an abyss that would be a hell (or heaven) of a ride if you jumped off.
No beginning. No end. A ride that just…is.
A few pages later, once I got my mind functioning again, I came to this:
While he avoided technical details in A Brief History of Time, the no boundary model was the basis of Hawking's oft-quoted statement: "So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end; it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?
Taoism agrees. From the Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition (excellent book), verse 14.
Eyes look but cannot see it
Ears listen but cannot hear it
Hands grasp but cannot touch it
Beyond the senses lies the great Unity –
invisible, inaudible, intangible
What rises up appear bright
What settles down appears dark
Yet there is neither darkness nor light
just an unbroken dance of shadows
From nothingness to fullness
and back again to nothingness
This formless form
This imageless image
cannot be grasped by mind or might
Try to face it
In what place will you stand?
Try to follow it
To what place will you go?
Know That which is beyond all beginnings
and you will know everything here and now
Know everything in this moment
and you will know the Eternal Tao