Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth

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OUP Oxford, Feb 12, 2009 - History - 328 pages
Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind analyses techniques of searching for ultimate wisdom in ancient Greece. The Greeks perceived mental experiences of exceptional intensity as resulting from divine intervention. They believed that to share in the immortals' knowledge, one had to liberate the soul from the burden of the mortal body by attaining an altered state of consciousness, that is, by merging with a superhuman being or through possession by a deity. These states were often attained by inspired mediums, `impresarios of the gods' - prophets, poets, and sages - who descended into caves or underground chambers. Yulia Ustinova juxtaposes ancient testimonies with the results of modern neuropsychological research. This novel approach enables an examination of religious phenomena not only from the outside, but also from the inside: it penetrates the consciousness of people who were engaged in the vision quest, and demonstrates that the darkness of the caves provided conditions vital for their activities.

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Very interesting research addressing the search for ultimate truth by the ancient Greeks and many others. The research done by the author provides great insight into how truth has been sought by ancient peoples and the symbolism that has been used by these individuals to help explain the search for this ultimate truth. Well worth the read. Since this desire to obtain ultimate truth still exists today and the fact symbolism is still used across a wide range of religions and even esoteric institutions such as masonry to pass along important insights and "truths" to the modern seekers of truth made the insights of this work even more valuable to me as a reader. In my own studies I have been amazed at what depths individuals would go, and still do go, to obtain truth. The one question I was left with was if the author had done this? Some have said that some things cannot be learned, they can only be experienced. What, if any, personal experiences did the author have that would give deeper insights into a rich and fascinating subject? -----Sef 


1 Cave Experiences and the Human Mind
2 Oracles and Caves
3 Seers and Poets
4 Sages and Philosophers
5 NearDeath Experiences Real and MakeBelieve

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About the author (2009)

Yulia Ustinova is Senior Lecturer, Department of General History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

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