On the Nature of Higher Consciousness and the Experience Called “God”

Robert Ornstein with Sally M. Ornstein


Author Interview Revised

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Robert Ornstein:
The Psychology of Conscious Evolution Trilogy

The Psychology of Consciousness and The Evolution of Consciousness introduced the two modes of consciousness of the left and right brain hemispheres and a critical understanding of how the brain evolved. Ornstein considered these, along with God 4.0, his most important works. The three books together provide a fundamental reconsideration of ancient religious and spiritual traditions in the light of advances in brain science and psychology, exploring the potential and relevance of this knowledge to contemporary needs and to our shared future.

“In a world of increasing tribalism, Robert Ornstein’s God 4.0 contains a crucial message of unity: that the perceptive potential for a pure, unadulterated, transcendent awareness resides in each and every one of us. The survival of our species may very well depend on our collective ability to tap into and experience what Ornstein writes.”

– Brad Stulberg, bestselling author of The Practice of Groundedness

“The book God 4.0 opened my mind – and my heart – to new possibilities.”

– BJ Fogg, PhD, Behavior scientist at Stanford University; author of the New York Times bestseller ‘Tiny Habits’

“Robert Ornstein had the rare gift of combining rigorous scientific methodology with the whimsy and humor of a Sufi storyteller. This, his final book, takes the exploration to a new level – to the very boundary where human consciousness touches the divine.”

– Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD., Host, New Thinking Allowed

“In God 4.0 [Ornstein] has combined the latest research from a number of domains to create a new spiritual literacy that offers an understanding of the transcendent nature of consciousness and by doing so allows us to truly see God. Humbling, profound and, ultimately, transformative.”

– James R. Doty, M.D., Founder/Director, Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

“I can think of no one else who has provided such remarkable insight into the psychology of consciousness. At this juncture in human evolution it is imperative for us to take note of his insights and embrace new thinking if we want Homo sapiens to have a long future.”

– Donald Johanson, Founding Director, Institute of Human Origins


On the Nature of Higher Consciousness and the Experience Called “God”

Robert Ornstein with Sally M. Ornstein

ISBN: 978-1-949358-99-5

LIST PRICE:  $24.99

PUB DATE:   10/15/2021


ISBN:  978-1-953292-02-5

LIST PRICE:  $14.99

PUB DATE:   10/15/2021

ISBN:  978-1-953292-43-8

LIST PRICE:  $24.99

PUB DATE:   10/15/2021

DURATION: 10.7 hr

“A fitting final chapter in the canon of an innovative psychologist. This book carefully balances readability and scientific complexity in its quest to find explanations for the near ubiquity of spirituality in humanity’s history, and the author displays a firm command of information regarding world religion, secular history, and cutting-edge science and psychological theory”

– Kirkus Reviews

God 4.0: On the Nature of Higher Consciousness and the Experience Called God is recommended for psychology and spirituality collections alike, and considers the intersection between the two as it probes different notions of ‘God’ and higher consciousness.”

– Midwest Book Review

This book is about what it means to go beyond our ordinary perception of reality, and to understand why, throughout human history, almost all of humanity has had the concept of transcendence and connection to “the other” – to “the spirit world”, to “God”, or to “the One behind it all”.

Drawing on the modern research—from neuropsychology and religion to evolutionary psychology, anthropology, archeology, and genetics—the authors delve deeply into what we now know about how the process of transcendence happens in the brain and the ways in which it has been sought since Paleolithic times. They begin by coalescing findings from the shamans of the Ice Age (God 1.0) to the first temples, priests and gods of the Neolithic era and Mesopotamia (God 2.0), to the Axial Age prophets and the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (God 3.0).

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They explore in detail how verbal descriptions of a nonverbal transcendental experience were always understood to be metaphorical but that gradually became taken as literal truth. The differing interpretations of this literal view have been the cause of much conflict between religious denominations and between science and religion.

The authors explain how our “everyday” mind works as a device for selecting just a few parts of the outside reality that are important for our survival. We don’t experience the world as it is, but as a virtual reality—a small, limited system which evolved to keep us safe and ensure our survival. This system, though essential for getting us safely across a busy street, is insufficient for understanding and solving the challenges of the modern world.

But we are also endowed with a quiescent “second network” of cognition which, when activated, can dissolve or break through the barriers of ordinary consciousness. We all experience this activation to some degree when we suddenly see a solution to a problem or have an intuitive or creative insight – when we connect to a larger whole beyond the self.

By combining ancient teachings with modern science, we have a new psychology of spiritual experience – the knowledge to explore how this second network can be developed and stabilized, providing the much-needed higher perceptive capacity that is humanity’s next evolutionary step.

The authors take care to differentiate this development from temporary trance experiences or from overloading the brain with drugs, dancing, drumming, or other practices.

Instead, they emphasize the need, both individually and collectively, to reflect on and explicate the functional value of virtues such as generosity, humility and gratitude, and of service. These attitudes and activities shift brain function away from the self toward an expanded consciousness, an experience of the world’s greater interconnectedness and unity and an understanding of one’s place in it.

Neither an academic tome nor a religious treatise, God 4.0 is a comprehensive, thoroughly researched work addressed to inquisitive, open-minded people genuinely trying to understand life and meaning. It is written for critical thinkers, for readers of news, history, biography and science who seek more from life than is accessible through any one of these disciplines, people who may find religion as they’ve encountered it to be unsatisfactory.

The authors neither advocate nor dismiss organized religion but contend that knowledge we have now of how higher consciousness happens in the brain allows us to move beyond faith, belief, and ritual to a direct experience of self-transcendence which has been called “seeing God.” Developing this innate second system of perception could be the first step toward finding the vital common ground that reconciles science, religion and spirituality, allowing us to approach our global problems from a new spiritual literacy and enter a new era—God 4.0.

God 4.0 is the culmination of and capstone to Robert Ornstein’s brilliant, groundbreaking half century of research into the dimensions, capacities, and purposes of human consciousness. Deeply thoughtful and wide-ranging in scope, his final book goes well beyond the ‘left-brain, right-brain’ work for which he originally became famous, this time bringing the often-confusing and divisive subject of spirituality into a clear and useful 21st-century focus, presenting it as a matter of perception, not belief. Using rigorous, rational, scientific analysis – always his greatest strength – Ornstein shows that the spiritual impulse is innate, a human ability that from the Ice Age forward has been essential to problem solving. As a final part of his legacy, he lays out how this capacity to reach beyond the everyday can, cleared of cobwebs and seen afresh, play a role and be part of preparing humanity to confront today’s staggering global problems. A rewarding and fascinating book.”

– Tony Hiss, author of Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth

God 4.0 can make you rethink what God, religion, consciousness, and the human experience of them are. What if God were not a disembodied spirit? What if God were an altered state of consciousness? … Our experience of God is seen as an inborn network of the human brain, a second system of cognition and connection which can be accessed and help us today. This landmark book shines new light on things we thought we understood.”

– Charles Swencionis,
Associate Professor of Psychology, Yeshiva University

God 4.0 is a visionary fusion of true spirituality and neuroscience. Both authors forcefully argue for “consciousness evolution” which is a shift away from self-centeredness that releases enhanced perceptual capabilities. This shift can profoundly influence epigenetic expression, health, and perhaps even influence the epigenetic inheritance of future generations.”

– Kenneth R. Pelletier, author of Change Your Genes, Change Your Life

“Staggering in scope and breadth,God 4.0 is the culmination of Ornstein’s work on the psychology of consciousness. Connecting the latest research from archeology, religious history, psychology and brain science, the authors extend a timely invitation to readers to explore a latent, intuitive faculty we all share — one that can move us beyond belief, faith, and doctrine to a wider perception of who we are and who we could become”

– David S Sobel, MD, MPH
Stanford University School of Medicine