Mystical Bioethics Network

See papers in this file for communications from 1999-2000. Click below for links to recent papers:
Mystical Bioethics Network Papers
What Kalari Payyattu Means To Me, Spiritually! -V.R.Manoj > , EJAIB 11 (Jan 2001), 17.
Martial Arts for Love; - Frank Leavitt , EJAIB 11 (Jan 2001), 17-8.
Commentary on Manoj - Erin Williams> , EJAIB 11 (Jan 2001), 18.

Commentary on Ranjan: Spirituality and Religion, are they Connected? - Frank (Yeruham) Leavitt , EJAIB 11 (July 2001), 110-111.
Religion, Education and Bioethical Maturity - Raghwesh Ranjan , EJAIB 11 (July 2001), 111.
What is our Body? - V.R.Manoj , EJAIB 11 (July 2001), 111-113.
Commentary on Manoj- Erin D. Williams / Commentary on Manoj- Frank (Yeruham) Leavitt , EJAIB 11 (July 2001), 113.

Religion Obviously Teaches Tolerance, Humbleness and Respect For Fellow Beings - Raghwesh Ranjan , EJAIB 11 (Sept 2001), 159-160.

John Lennon, Love, Religion and Bioethics - Erin D. Williams , EJAIB 11 (Sept 2001), 160.

Reply to Raghwesh Ranjan - Frank J. Leavitt , EJAIB 11 (Sept 2001), 160-1.

The Monotheism-Polytheism Discussion: Commentary on Verma, Saxena, Gold, Morioka and Azariah - Frank J. Leavitt , EJAIB 11 (Nov. 2001), 196-197.

Loss of Mystery - V.R. Manoj / Commentary on Manoj - Erin D. Williams / Mysticism and bioethics - Frank J. Leavitt EJAIB 12 (May 2002), 105-107.

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 9 (1999), 15-16.
Please join us (see below) in the formation of a network of people who want to talk openly about deep spiritual, personal understandings that underlie bioethical thinking and decisions. To use a term from the field of literary criticism, we want to "deconstruct" ourselves, to bring out to the surface those thoughts and feelings and intuitions and sparks of prophesy, the angels and the daemons which we are often embarrassed to admit publicly because they are not "scientific" enough. We want to try to say what we mean rather than what we don't mean. Doesn't so much of what we say and write really cover up, rather than expressing, what we really think and feel, what the deep motives are for the positions which we take publicly?

This is a place for those who feel that what a nurse or a physician feels when alone in the middle of the night with a terminal patient, and is ashamed to tell to colleagues in the morning, might mean at least as much if not more to clinical ethics than our scholarly articles. What we sense and feel during the gaps of silence during our conversations at scientific conferences might teach more bioethics than our formal presentations.

We think that there -- in the secret things -- might be where the meaning of life, the true basis of bioethics, might be found.

We are not interested (within this network at least) in scholarly researches into religious texts, religious law, anthropology of religion etc. These things are important but their place is elsewhere, perhaps in other networks.

Anyone interested in joining the mystical bioethics network may contact:

Erin D. Williams, Esq.
Associate Director, Law, Policy and Ethics
Foundation for Genetic Medicine, Inc.
l0900 University Blvd, MSN 4E3
Manassas, VA 20ll0, USA

Frank J. Leavitt, Ph.D.
Chairman: Centre for Asian and International Bioethics
Faculty of Health Sciences
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, ISRAEL

Please write simultaneously to both of us.

Response letter of 11th December, l998, follows
I have read your note on "Mystical Bioethics Network" in the EJAIB of Nov. l998, and I feel interested.

I must admit that I, and perhaps most workers in the field of Science, have two selves. While one self, under the influence of scientific training, is prepared to believe only in notions with factual basis, the other self, under the influence of prevalent beliefs in the society or the religious group, of which he is a member, and also on the strength of his own experiences, is inclined to believe in the metaphysical. Some students of Science, however, hesitate to accept the existence of the latter self.

While some metaphysical experiences and beliefs cannot just be ignored, it would only create confusion if they were allowed to interfere with a scientific enquiry. Science has its own discipline and approach. It derives inferences from analysis and classification of observations made through normal senses. Spiritual experiences, on the other hand, require a "sixth sense", which is not well developed in most people. A scientist does not ( and should not) hesitate to accept limitations of his approach. Hence existence of facts beyond the existing frontiers of scientific knowledge cannot be altogether denied.

Forming a network for exchange of metaphysical experiences/suggestions/views may serve a useful purpose. But, in my opinion, caution is necessary on the following two points.

(1) That discussions/communications are confined to only mature persons of Science, and do not reach people who are getting introduced to fundamentals of Science, lest they may create confusion in the latter, and lead them to obscurantism. But how shall we achieve this?

(2) In the field of spiritualism and metaphysics myth and deceit have become badly mixed up with facts. As H.G. Wells, Julian Huxley and G.P. Wells have said in their "Science of Life", "They (experimenters on metaphysics) are admittedly associated with a network of deception and deliberate fraud. That is the misfortune rather than the fault of these enquirers. Their general procedure can be burlesqued or imitated by impostors with the greatest ease." Deceit in supernatural practices includes self-deceit and "joint and collective suggestibility and joint and collective hallucination", using expressions of H.G. Wells et al. Members of the proposed network have to carefully protect themselves against these factors.

With regards and best wishes for the fast approaching New Year,

- K.K. Verma, Ph.D.
HIG-1/327, Housing Board Colony
Borsi, Durg - 491001 (M.P.) India

Response -Frank Leavitt.

Prof. Verma's letter is important and his serious caveats deserve serious discussion although personally I cannot agree with his suggestion that students and mature scientists be related to differently. The reason is that students freely read, discuss and question everything anyway. And they are as likely as mature people to have mystical feelings or insights which they must deal with somehow or other. So I see no reason why not discuss everything and anything with them openly. But Prof Verma's letter is printed in full below for the reader to come to one's own opinion.

A Humble Approach - Erin Williams

Professor Verma's letter, printed in the last issue of Eubios, reflects some of the sentiments and fears held by many individuals in the scientific community regarding spiritual matters and ways of knowing. I understand those concerns, and believe that there is at least one way that we can help to protect ourselves against "obscurantism" (Professor Verma's word for, I believe, rejecting all or most of science for some form of mysticism). That way is to remain humble. A humble approach will not only serve to protect us against "obscurantism," but will also protect us from forms of scientific reductionism and determinism, the things that I consider to be on the other end of the spectrum from "obscurantism."

A humble approach assists people seeking knowledge by keeping their eyes open for whatever understandings may come in, in whatever frameworks they may arise. For instance, consider this simplistic example. If I create a precise road map of my home town, it will enable me drive from place to place without getting lost. However, no matter what the quality of the road-map, it will provide me with little assistance if I want to know whether the beauty of the town's landscape will give me lovely chills. I may be very proud of my road-map, but it would be inaccurate and full of hubris for me to suggest that this one map could tell me all that I might want to know about the area. Similarly, it would be silly of me to reject the map if my goal was to find the house at the corner of Oak Avenue and Main Street.

Like the road-map, science helps people to identify patterns, and to predict outcomes in certain situations. Science provides a sound way to view, understand, and even forecast many events. It is one important framework for understanding the world.

Like the chills that I may get looking out over a beautiful scene, spirituality helps to guide me when I want to know what lights my heart and motivates me to sing. It helps me to appreciate beauty, empathize with suffering, and to choose pathways that make me smile. It is another framework for understanding the world.

Humility keeps me from clinging to one way of knowing or understanding, and leaves me open to the possibility that multiple frameworks may be appropriate for approaching different types of questions. Humility allows me to look at all of the tools at my disposal and choose one or several that I believe will be appropriate for the task at hand. Humility maintains my faith in both science and spirituality without allowing my belief in either to become fanatical.

That said, it is my hope that we can create a network for the honest discussion of mystical and spiritual understandings and their impact on bioethics. If you are interested, please contact

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 10 (2000), 129-30.
This letter has reference to the two letters/notes (by Alamelu and by Erin Williams) appearing in the November l999 issue of EJAIB 9: 177+.

I fully agree with the view that education, without religion and ethics, will fail to produce useful members of society. But are faith and ethics the same entity as Mystical Bioethics? Alamelu says, "I strongly believe that in giving any views regarding any field, especially Ethical issues, there should be openness". I would like to be enlightened on whether there is any demarkation between Ethics and Mystical Bioethics. Erin Williams seems to refer to Mystical Bioethics when she says, "...wisdom we have accumulated during lifetimes...." I believe it will serve a useful purpose to carefully define what we mean by Mystical Bioethics.

When I read your note in EJAIB of Nov, l998, I thought that through the network, data of experience and understanding would be built up in the field of Mystical Bioethics. At the initiation of such an important movement I wished to raise two points of caution, viz. (i) that mysticism not be included in teaching of those who are in elementary stages of learning Science, and (ii) that members of the network, through discussions and suggestions, develop a methodology to accumulate only those data, which are reliable and free from deceit, fraud and individual and group suggestibility and individual and collective hallucination. Very surprisingly the first point of caution attracted so much attention, and the second point of caution, which in my opinion is of greater gravity, has not bee reacted to at all.

In the context of the second point of caution, let me make one suggestion for consideration by members of the network. If a mystical experience is shared/scrutinized by several educated/enlightened persons, it may be taken as reliable. In the last chapter of their classical book "The Science of Life", HG Wells, Julian Huxley and GP Wells mention the case of Mr. Dunne and his friends. This group of people developed the habit of writing down at the moment of awakening, all that one can recall of the contents of dream, if any, during his sleep. The writings were typed and put on record. Scrutiny of the record revealed that in a large number of cases the dreams appeared based on experiences in the immediate past, and much of what had been recorded was misinterpretation of bodily state, the "chill of an exposed limb, for example, suggesting bathing in cold water", but a considerable part of the record included anticipation of events in "near future". The authors say, "His (Dunne's) statements and those of his associates are certainly striking enough to justify further experiments in this field".

The first point of caution has been prompted by my experience that some teachers include mysticism when introducing Science to beginners. This only creates confusion, and hampers development of a scientific attitude. I still hold that such a mix-up of mysticism and Science, in the initial stages of learning the latter, should be avoided. When raising this point I did not talk of "Higher States" or research level. I agree with this that "educated" imagination or intuition plays a valuable role in planning and execution of experiments. The point of caution is limited to the elementary level of science education.

I may be permitted to reemphasize the gravity of the second point of caution. Unless we develop a suitable methodology we shall fail in building up trustworthy data through working of the network.

- K.K. Verma, MSc, PhD
Professor of Zoology, Principal (Retd.) M.P. Govt P.G. Colleges
HIG - 1/327 Housing Board Colony.
Borsi. Durg- 491001 (M.P.) India

Go back to EJAIB 9(1) January 1999
Go back to EJAIB
The Eubios Ethics Institute is on the world wide web of Internet: