Jonathan Haidt is one of my current favourite thinkers and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.
In this TED talk he posits the possibility that humans evolved the religious impulse as an adaptation to assist group selection. In simpler terms, we are hard-wired to have transcendent experiences because it makes us co-operate instead of acting selfishly.
Haidt uses the staircase as a metaphor for self-transcendence which should surely have resonance for freemasons who have taken their second degree. He states:
“The staircase takes us from the experience of life as profane or ordinary upwards to the experience of life as sacred, or deeply interconnected”.
Fascinating. Watch it.