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Mystical States Explained, via Surfing

Posted on Jun 14, 2006
From Allen J. Schaben / LAT

The L.A. Times Book Review says that Steven Kotler explains in his new book how “a good ride in real surf brings together danger, novelty and pinpoint concentration, which can also trigger, apparently, mystical states.”

Want to know why near-death experiences frequently feature tunnels of white, euphoric light? The L.A. Times Book Review recommends picking up a copy of Truthdig contributor Steven Kotler’s new book “West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief” to find out.

  • Also: The Village Voice gives “West of Jesus” a rave.

  • L.A. Times Book Review:

    ... Steven Kotler’s “West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief” is the ideal book for any readers who have ever asked themselves, “How did surfing take over my life?” Kotler brings us closer to the answers via a wild, globe-trotting journey in search of surfing’s much-referenced but rarely discussed spiritual side.

    Having been out of commission for two years while struggling with Lyme disease, Kotler is ill, depressed and on the brink of suicide when a friend offers to take him surfing. Despite the fact that he hasn’t been in the water for six years, he decides to go. After only one wave, he’s hooked again, and he begins surfing as regularly as his health will allow.

    Before long, he starts to feel better, and he marvels at surfing’s salutary effects: “Since a typical wave lasts about five seconds, a typical session produced about twenty-five seconds of actual wave-riding time. In the time during which surfing was saving my life, I totaled a little over an hour of actual surfing.”


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