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Book-Spiritual Doorway in the Brain

The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain – The Book

To be released December, 2010

In the US: Dutton-Penguin Group

Buy It At:


Barnes and Noble


In the United Kingdom

  1. Teresa permalink

    Wow I only read the introduction of your new book at Borders last night. I am intrigued, can not wait to read more.

  2. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I wrote the book as an unfolding mystery and the best is yet to come. Enjoy!

  3. Chris permalink

    Dr Nelson,

    Your book looks fascinating and I’d love to buy it. Alas, according to Amazon, the Kindle version isn’t available for purchase in my region (Australia). Could you please advise when it will be available?

    Many thanks,


  4. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Thanks so much for your interest. In Australia the book is titled “The God Impulse” and published by Simon & Schuster.

  5. padmaja permalink

    I am a fan of Dr VN Ramachandran.I live in San Diego and had the fortune to attend some of his lectures.As I was looking at some books on Neurology and such I stumbled on your book.I remember having lucid dreams and only that I didnt know until now what lucid dreams were.Your book is very intriguing and am sure will inspire many more to research into this area,where there is much to be explored.I have been wondering on one thing for quite some time about near death experiences.Why is that a christian tends to see Jesus and related divine people when he explains his near death experience as opposed to some other religion follower deities or God or divine persons of his faith?I have recently met a devotee in Krishna temple(Hindu temple)who was actually near death and the Dr`s had given up on him(He had stroke and underwent some surgery related to that).He said that he saw Yama dootas(messengers from the God of Death,accd to Hinduism..Lord Yama)fighting to take his soul with Vaikuntha messengers(from the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu..Vaikuntham).And that finally the messengers from Vaikuntha won the debate and returned to San Diego alive and in one piece.He is now a firm believer in God and heaven and such.My question is arent these Gods/God or heavenly messengers or objects part of their memory ,as to what they have followed or been exposed to from childhood and hence the claims of christian believer or of knowledge of Christianity claiming to see Jesus and a Hindu follower or of knowledge of Hindusim claiming to see Lord Vishnu,Krishna or some other Hindu deity?I just wonder because if I have a near death experience would I be visited by Christian angels or messengers from Vaikuntham?Or none because I am so skeptical.Nonetheless my love for science and spirituality makes me read these books and wonder when we will find all the answers or may be there are no linear answers to all questions.Some are better to be experienced ! Thank you so much for such a well written book that even a lay person like me could comprehend to some extent.

  6. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    You raise an important issue: There is little question that the near-death experience is deeply influenced by life experiences, that is memory and culture. It would be very difficult to verify that someone encountered a spiritual being during near-death from another culture or era that they did not know of in some way before near-death, even if were just a cursory brush beforehand. Thanks

  7. Sandeep permalink

    Dr Nelson,

    I was reading your fascinating book and had a question.

    In chapter 2 of the book, you discuss “Jan’s case”.

    Further on, you discuss Margaret who had an aneurysm.


    I was curious if any other details are available on these cases. Could you please provide a reference on journals where these cases were first published?


  8. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    There are no further published details of these cases. I have personally been given their information in confidence.

  9. Claudia Hill Duffee, MA permalink

    Kevin, I used to work in GME at UK…

    When I saw the announcement in the Calendar Section / Herald Leader that you were signing books at Joseph Beth on Feb 3, 2011, I ordered the book.
    Today I started reading it and it is very well written
    and very interesting – both from a brainy doc!

    My brother (your friend) son’s is getting his Eagle Scout Award
    in Versailles tomorrow night or we would have both come
    to Joseph Beth Booksellers.

    How did you write this book and do you UK job so well?

    Is the British Edition the same or an older book?

    Best Wishes…
    Claudia Hill Duffee, MA

  10. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Nice to hear from you. You ask an interesting question-how did I write and maintain my day job? Very difficultly, but I had colleagues at UK who supported my work and I owe a great deal to them. Eagle scout is a grand accomplishment. I recall my son’s ceremony and appreciate the importance of the occasion. The British version is the same book with a different title. thanks

  11. Robert L. Hyde permalink

    I just finished reading your book and learned more about the brain than I ever knew. Unfortunately, I have never had a a spiritual experience and was hoping I could have one some day. Of course, I am 85 years old so it seems unlikely, but I will be prepared if I do.

    I was amazed that your research did not mention a book on a parallel subject “why God won’t go away” by Andrew Newberg,
    M.D. and Eugene D’Aquill M.D., published about 10 years ago. Their brain scans on mystics showed that these people could literally “shut down” extraneous influences during their meditations.

    I would appreciate your comments on this matter.

  12. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Well, I too hope you can have a spiritual experience some day. Yes I am familiar with the work of Dr.s Newberg and D’Aquill but have not read their work for some time. My earlier impression was that they studied meditation more than mystical oneness. I’ll take another look. Meditation is a whole other topic.

  13. Cathie Glover permalink

    I love your new book The Spiritual Doorway and have almost completed it. I agree with one of your critics that used the word provocative.

    Descriptions of the brain and how certain areas were affected was expressed in great layman terms.

    I am wondering or maybe I missed it,,,,were tests ever done when a person meditates and specifically tap into their psychic side using mental imagery? Exp: I use the tools that medium John Edward provides, (his CD’s (Dev yur psychic abilities) mental imagery meditation to get in touch with your spirit guides. Just wondering if certain scans show change in the brain while meditating etc.

    Lastly, I was hoping you would use social netwoking to publicize your book. I have a FB page and this is what I wrote about your book recently on my status update
    “So a couple of weeks ago, I went to the library and picked up a book that was on the NEW books shelf. I didn’t start reading it until today….The title is… The Spiritual Doorway In The Brain “A Neurologist’s Search for the God Experience,” authored by Kevin Nelson, M.D. published 2011

    Mr. Nelson had me hooked aftering reading the 11-page Prologue. I am now on page 34…………..”

    June 3 at 4:26pm · ·

    Pat Grant and Jack Glover like this..

    From Ruth Roe Hey, I feel way out of bounds….I just finished a 12.5 hr day at th clinic…and I really want to read this book…sounds like where i need to be……………..
    June 3 at 9:12pm ·

    My reply:

    I am loving the journey of his perspective!
    June 3 at 9:33pm ·

    Candace L. Carr also states “I’m ordering it, thanks Cathie!”
    June 4 at 5:12am ·

    Dr. Nelson, as you can see, that is 2 people that wanted your book just by my status update on my FB page.

    I am trying to get your book out there and your own FB page would really help.

    Have the greatest of days – you are a gem!


  14. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    I want to thank you very much for your encouraging words. The book was intended to be provocative and not judgmental. I do take Wm James open approach to spiritual experience very much to heart. I did not delve into meditation and the brain to a great extent. This is a voluminous topic and I had to focus in order to meet my publication deadline. Maybe next…. And thanks for the FB post-and idea. I have been weak on social networking and your post is likely to spur me on. Thanks again for your thoughts.


  15. Daniel permalink

    Dr. Nelson,

    I just finished your stellar book and greatly appreciated your incredibly informative, fair, and level-headed approach to such a controversial topic. And, while I could go on offering you endless praise (well, as far as my limited vocabulary could carry me), I’ll get straight to my point.

    At the end of the book, in the epilogue, you ask (spoiler alert, people!):

    “What if we had a drug that acted on a specific part of the brain and caused us to experience the miraculous? Or imagine another drug, more refined than psilocybin, which precisely stimulated the mystical, bringing us to a state of “oneness,” or even closer to God than we can now imagine. As doctors, how should we use that drug?”

    I’m curious if you’re familiar with Dr. Rick Strassman’s work regarding dimethyltryptamine, or – more commonly – DMT. It’s a naturally occurring psychedelic that’s found in both plants and animals, and, along with being suspected to be produced by the pineal gland, has been reported to have incredibly powerful effects – exponentially surpassing those of psilocybin and LSD – when administered. It’s generally ingested, in indigenous settings, in a brew known as “ayahuasca” – but Dr. Strassman and his team administered it in clinical settings intravenously, which he recorded in precise detail in his book:

    DMT: The Spirit Molecule

    A pretty solid documentary was made on it as well: (part 1 of 5)

    If you’re familiar with Dr. Strassman and/or DMT, I’m curious as to your thoughts on it and its effects. Moving on, you ask:

    “Should the same obligations apply to drugs that stimulate the divine? Would withholding oneness or enlightenment be inhumane if we had the power to summon it at will?”

    Regardless as to my thoughts on the matter, I was curious if you were familiar with another book – this one by Aldous Huxley called “Island”:

    In it, residents of “Pala” occasionally take, as a part of their process of education to be “fully integrated” and “independently thinking” human beings, what they describe as “moksha medicine,” “reality revealers,” and/or “truth and beauty pills.” Not as a crutch, but in addition to learning to experience the world “as is” in the “here and now,” free of dogma and doctrine. It’s a great read, either way, and offers a glimpse, albeit fictional, of a fascinating system that does make practical sense – and may give one an idea of how a society that administers “drugs that stimulate the divine” could function.

    Was also (and finally) wondering if you have ever read Huxley’s “Doors of Perception,” detailing his experience with mescaline. It immediately sprung to mind during your description of William James’ brief (and unpleasant) experience, and offers a perhaps more detailed and vivid account of a “trip” – from Huxley’s perspective/disposition, at least.

    Thanks, and I apologize for the message-novella – I know you’re a busy man! All my best!


  16. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    I really appreciate your reminder about DMT. I am aware of the drug but did not have the opportunity to fully explore its properties. In the space (and time) that I had, I focused on Psilocybin since the neurochemistry of that compound is well know and allowed me to talk about the basic principles of psychopharmacology. Psychoethnobotony is a fascinating field onto itself.

    And it was late in the book’s production that I remembered Huxley’s wonderful little piece “The Doors of Perception”. It would have fit nicely tucked in somewhere. I will have to read his “Island”, he is a wonderful writer.


  17. Jacob permalink

    Dr Nelson,

    I am currently reading your book and can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I actually found a book that discussed topics that I had a huge interest in. I was just curious though, as much research that I do myself, weather it be through the Internet or through books. I was alittle astonished that you only mentioned the pineal gland once in the book.

    Doing constant research on topics of neuropsychology, philosophy, physics and anything dealing with consciousness. I have always found that there was a strong tie in multiple religions to the pineal. Just like Daniel commented on the site about dmt, I read that both the pineal and dmt are inrerwined in some way. But of course this just something that I’ve researched. Since I’m no doctor I can’t really say anything when it comes down to a legitimate answer.

    I was also curious if a person who was never introduced to religion or any of the “divine” beings that we can almost all identify. Than would they also have a spiritual experience that included divine figures? Just alittle thought I had. Also I’m curious if there are future books you will be writing on this topic because I would loge to read more about it. Thanks you for writing this book, it’s really an awesome read.


  18. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    It is true that I do not dwell on the pineal; deadlines and space did not permit it. I do mention the conventional role of the pineal in an easily overlooked passage found in the footnotes, bottom of page 267 note # 267. Exploring this topic further will have to wait for another book.

    As for your question about historical beings, it would be very difficult to prove that someone did not somehow acquire knowledge of the figure in the course of their life and then draw upon that memory during the experience. An example of this, although more trivial, comes from Dr. Raymond Moody who coined the term near-death experience. He wrote a book devoted to those who report seeing Elvis in their near-death experience and I do not recall any experience reported from a culture (e.g. from the wilds of Papua New Guinea) that was not already familiar with Elvis.

    Thanks for your thoughts and best to you-

  19. Silvana permalink

    Dear Dr.Nelson, I am enjoying every page of your book, I haven’t finished yet, but I just would like to share a thought hoping that one day you could get to it. As you explained that the brain sense of self is very fragile and it makes a map to coordinate and give senses to every part of the body, and also that when due to an injury or stroke the map gets disrupted and rearenged, it made me think that if the same would be true to when a person suffers a psycological trauma (most likely during childhood) and looses the sense of the “self” identity and start thinking that he (in case of a male) is a she, or vice-versa, and also in cases of patients with anorexy, when they also loose the sense of their “selves” looking at themselves in the mirror and seen a fat body when they are actually skin and bone.And if this is it, maybe there would be exercises like the ones you mentioned to kind of retrain the brain to especific results like the phantom limb to be aplied in other patients with problems like I mentioned above.
    Thank you for writing a book for the general public, so people like me (not a doctor) could read and enjoy it too.

  20. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    You have asked a very complicated question. Yes, in times of great stress and danger we do depersonalize and our perception of self changes. “It was like it was happening to someone else or a movie” is a common expression during such times. I think often this response does have survival benefit; giving one the ability to dampen emotions and deal with the situation at hand. I discuss this several times through the book, and it has happened to me as well on more than one occasion.

  21. Daniel permalink

    Dr. Nelson,

    First and foremost, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your response.

    In addition, I wanted to bring to your attention a passage from Aldous Huxley’s “Island” that I believe is appropos to an important sentiment you frequently reference in your book (given your workload, I assume you may not have had the time and opportunity to read it yet). I’m speaking of William James’ philosophy that the value of something should be judged by its effects, not by its origin (“by their fruits you shall know them, not by their roots”), and your consideration that this might very well be the correct approach. It also deals specifically with the subject at hand. Forgive the length, but it allows for the full context:

    “Murugan calls it dope and feels about it all the disapproval that, by conditioned reflex, the dirty word evokes. We, on the contrary, give the stuff good names—the moksha-medicine, the reality revealer, the truth-and-beauty pill. And we know, by direct experience, that the good names are deserved. Whereas our young friend here has no firsthand knowledge of the stuff and can’t be persuaded even to give it a try. For him, it’s dope and dope is something that, by definition, no decent person ever indulges in.”

    “What does His Highness say to that?” Will asked.

    Murugan shook his head. “All it gives you is a lot of illusions,” he muttered.”All I mean is that I don’t want any of your false samadhi.”

    “How do you know it’s false?” Dr. Robert inquired.

    “Because the real thing only comes to people after years and years of meditation and tapas and . . .”

    “Murugan,” Vijaya explained to Will, “is one of the Puritans. He’s outraged by the fact that, with four hundred milligrams of moksha-medicine in their bloodstreams, even beginners can catch a glimpse of the world as it looks to someone who has been liberated from his bondage to the ego.”

    “But it isn’t real,” Murugan insisted.

    “Not real!” Dr. Robert repeated. “You might as well say that the experience of feeling well isn’t real.”

    “You’re begging the question,” Will objected. “An experience can be real in relation to something going on inside your skull but completely irrelevant to anything outside.”

    “Of course,” Dr. Robert agreed.

    “Do you know what goes on inside your skull, when you’ve taken a dose of the mushroom?”

    “We know a little.”

    “Their response is the full-blown mystical experience. You know—One in all and All in one. The basic experience with its corollaries—boundless compassion, fathomless mystery and meaning.”

    “Not to mention joy,” said Dr. Robert, “inexpressible joy.”

    “And the whole caboodle is inside your skull,” said Will. “Strictly private. No reference to any external fact except a toadstool.”

    “Not real,” Murugan chimed in. “That’s exactly what I was trying to say.”

    “Do you like music?” Dr. Robert asked.

    “More than most things.”

    “And what, may I ask, does Mozart’s G-Minor Quintet refer to? Does it refer to Allah? Or Tao? Or the second person of the Trinity? Or the Atman-Brahman?”

    Will laughed. “Let’s hope not.”

    “But that doesn’t make the experience of the G-Minor Quintet any less rewarding. Well, it’s the same with the kind of experience that you get with the moksha-medicine, or through prayer and fasting and spiritual exercises. Even if it doesn’t refer to anything outside itself, it’s still the most important thing that ever happened to you. Like music, only incomparably more so. And if you give the experience a chance, if you’re prepared to go along with it, the results are incomparably more therapeutic and transforming. So maybe the whole thing does happen inside one’s skull. Maybe it is private and there’s no unitive knowledge of anything but one’s own physiology. Who cares? The fact remains that the experience can open one’s eyes and make one blessed and transform one’s whole life.”



  22. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    Yes a long quote (with my gratitude for all the typing) but one well worth the effort. James and Huxley are clearly in accord here, and I with them. Thanks so much for bringing this quote to the fore. I had originally intended for Huxley to be more fully in the book’s discussion on mysticism, but time……..
    And I am going to listen again to Mozart’s G-Minor Quintet.
    Warm regards,

  23. George Gill permalink

    Found your book informative and very
    even-handed. I was surprised you didn’t
    mention Jill Bolte Taylor. A most remark-
    case involving a neurological authority.
    Any comment?

  24. Kevin Nelson, M.D. permalink

    I have Jill Taylor’s book but in the time I had to write my own, could not incorporate it. I agree, hers is a worthy work and she must be congratulated on many levels. Thanks for the reminder.

  25. Hello Dr. Nelson. I am the Host of the EWP Podcast (a show that takes an objective look at the unexplained)

    I would absolutely love to have you on the show to talk about your most recent book, and discuss your research into NDE’s. I think that you would be a great fit for our show, and hopefully we could sell a few books for you!

    Please give the show a glance and let me know if its something you would be interested partaking in.

    Thanks for your time

    Nick Page

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