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Caves and the Ancient Greek MindDescending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth$
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Yulia Ustinova

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199548569

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548569.001.0001

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Cave Experiences and the Human Mind

Cave Experiences and the Human Mind

(p.13) 1 Cave Experiences and the Human Mind
Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind

Yulia Ustinova (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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