And the day has finally come! Today is the official publication date of my latest book, More Than Allegory. This means that if you purchase the eBook/Kindle edition now, you get instant gratification, since it will be downloaded immediately. To celebrate this special occasion, only a special blog post will do. And a very special one this is: here is the full introduction of the book, generously contributed by Prof. Jeffrey J. Kripal.

Reading Inside God’s Brain

By Jeffrey J. Kripal

I was so delighted when I found Bernardo Kastrup’s books. Actually, I didn’t find them. A mutual colleague working in Paris on medieval Christianity, Troy Tice, read us both and encouraged me to read Bernardo. He thought our books somehow spoke to one another, and that I would appreciate Bernardo’s books.

Most people fear death. And amongst those, most do so because death seems to entail oblivion, the end of everything we are. In this brief essay, I want to help you follow your own direct experience to realize that, whatever death may be, it isn't the end of you; not even of a part of you. This realization, in my view, is fairly simple to achieve and I personally don't include it in my list of critical existential questions.

Last week we lost the author of much of the soundtrack of my childhood: Prince, the musician. I hadn't thought of Prince in years; he'd just dropped out of my inner world, except for the very occasional song played on my car radio. In those rare moments, his songs would  immediately bring back memories of my early years; yet, not the image of Prince himself. The artist was just a faded figure in my mind, who I assumed to be an old and grumpy man by now, enjoying retirement somewhere in Florida.

I grieve the loss of my innocence.

The mystery and possibilities that once were my world abandoned me,

Frivolousness and claustrophobia left in their stead.

Each door traversed turned an infinitude of magical could-be's into one cold has-been.

No longer an endless, multi-dimensional path ahead,

But a long line of footprints behind.

I ache in sorrow not for my failures, but for my successes.

They revealed the hollowness of early dreams,

Failing my childhood.

The two essays I wrote prior to this one have commanded a lot of interest and attention (see here and here). They discuss recent brain imaging studies on the effects of psychedelics. Surprisingly, the results have shown that, unlike what one would ordinarily expect from a materialist perspective, the increase in the richness and intensity of experience following the intake of psychedelics correlates with reductions of brain activity.

[Updated on 16 April 2016. A follow-up has also been published here.]

Yesterday I published an essay criticizing the media coverage of a brand new study on the neural correlates of the LSD experience. In that essay, I analyzed the original study and compared it to what the media reported. Towards the end, I also shared some social commentary about the media's role in our culture today, based on a philosophical interpretation of the study's results.

A new study on the neural correlates of the LSD experience has just being published, to great fanfare. Naturally, the mainstream media is all over it, because of the loaded history of psychedelics. The Guardian published an article and so did CNN, even with front-page visibility in its website.

Time and space are one of the greatest conundrums of both science and philosophy, and have been so since we began to think about them self-reflectively. Many, especially in physics, see space-time as an objective thing, which can be bent and twisted. Others, namely in Eastern philosophy, see time and space as illusions, narratives in the mind without any objective existence. An intense dialectic goes on between these two apparently opposing views.

As I sit outside today under glorious spring weather, enjoying a glass of my favorite Weiße with the warm sun shinning on my face, it feels as though 2016 has only just begun. Yet, in the dark months of winter we now leave behind my philosophical productivity was in overdrive. My ideas have congealed with more clarity and robustness, and more of their implications in a number of fields of knowledge have revealed themselves.

In a new study recently published in Nature's Scientific Reports, scientists discovered that chimpanzees perform what seems to be 'sacred rituals' at chosen 'sacred trees.' One of the scientists published a blog post with footage of the chimps' strange behavior and some of her own speculations. She wrote:

We found the first evidence of chimpanzees creating a kind of shrine that could indicate sacred trees.