Sunday, November 30, 2008

Consciousness in the Reenchanted Reality

US Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote an article entitled "Consciousness in the Reenchanted Reality" which appeared in Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos by Ervin Laszlo. Dr Mitchell's writes, "The attributes of quantum mechanics that set it apart from Newtonian mechanics are entanglement, quantum correlation, coherence, and non-locality". This observation is very similar to the writings of Dr. Amit Goswami, a theorectical nuclear physicist, whose work was mentioned in an earlier blog.

The idea of quantum correlation is worth discussing in the current time, since recently I have received emails on writings which seem to be struggling with this concept. At the most basic level quantum correlation describes a situation where two extremely small components of matter, for instance photons-although atoms have been experimentally correlated, are linked together, entangled, in such a manner so they share information. Experimentally it has been shown that once they are correlated they are able to be moved apart to distances that exceed the ability of the speed of light, the basic upper limit of rate of travel in the existing material universe, to transfer information.

Information transference becomes important because at this level the correlated items maintain the existing relationship and properties until one of them is changed, and then the other item seems to know about the change because it reflects the appropriate information. For instance, Dr. Goswami (The Self-aware universe, p. 120.) discusses collapsing the wave function of 2 correlated photons via use of a polarization filter. When the first wave collapses via observation through a particular filter the second photon responds to the filter used on the first photon. Physicist Dr. Mani Bhaumik (Code name God, p. 172. ) describes a similar situation with entangled or correlated photons which have no unique properties because they are correlated. When one of the photons is queried about its condition the other photon responds with the complementary property. In both situations the photons respond instantly regardless of distance or time apart. These aspects have been called "quantum wierdness" because they are at odds with our normal everyday experiences of the macro- or Newtonian -world.

What this means to faith appears to be, that faith which links us all together and exists as a function of our being sentient knows no time or distance either. What are the implications if faith is also a wave in the sense of material objects possessing a wave function like the photons above? Because we are all linked we must be able to share each others observations and experiences of the world, given the correct situation. Sometimes this happens through inadvertent circumstances, like a heavy emotional experience, or at other times purposefully like entering an altered state of consciousness through hypnosis or meditation or prayer. Perhaps it is this ability to contact a common experience and sense of the world that allows for creating a global community. Maybe there is only one faith, but many ways to understand it?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How old is humanity--really

Looking at the broad scope of history, the evidence points towards a very old age for humanity, not merely the 5,500 years general acknowledged. In the “traditional” view, the earliest civilizations started around 3,500 BCE in the Middle East followed quickly by Egypt a few hundred years later, depending on specific dating of the dynastic periods. This seems in agreement with some of the Chinese traditions of the Yellow Emperor who brought civilization to China just after 3,000 BCE. So it can be argued that the dating schemes agree, even among diverse civilizations, and therefore it is probably correct. However, this assumption misses the subtlety of the research process and the methodology used to make the estimates. In the following sections questions addressing the continued reliability of this timeline are raised.

The difficulty arises because local and regional pre-historical narratives and ancient writings were essentially ignored. The methodology of the early western researchers was assumed to be valid. Therefore, the argument went, the ancient writings and prehistory narratives must be incorrect and mythological in nature. Using the western assumption of historical progression meant that, since the Middle Eastern civilizations were the earliest, then everything else must fit under that umbrella. Writing describing earlier civilizations must have been due to dreams, or visions, or fantasies. Therefore the assumption of Middle Eastern pre-eminence is supported and the existence of the fantasy writing agrees with the western assumptions.

Recently this approach has been challenged. A decade or so ago, for instance, the archaeological evidence supporting the age of the ancient city of Jericho pushed the earliest inhabited times to near 8,000 BCE. This meant that city life, in whatever form it occurred, existed well before the traditional Middle Eastern rise. This is not to say that Jericho represented the establishment of huge stone structures or pyramid type monuments. But it does mean that the vehicles used to transmit civilization, community living with the associated food management and hygiene related issues, must have been solved, at least partially. Furthermore, it also indicates that some form of collective or united actions were possible as it related to ensuring survival of the community.

But this is not the only evidence for pre-historic communities, let alone complex societies with substantial engineering capabilities. Years ago, in the early 1990s, while working on a master’s degree leading to a Masters in Business Administration, one of the other students and I were discussing the antiquity of her native culture. A native of India she related how some of the local scholars in India believed that the history of the nation dated back 30,000 years. When asked if she believed the dating she said yes because there was too much information from ancient writings to ignore the possibility. The problem for local scholars, she stated, was that the western model had been so strongly and effectively applied to the ancient civilizations that many scholars were afraid to violate the established “wisdom” which had been brought when the British developed India as a colony and controlled the educational system for the country’s intellectuals.

In 2001, the Science and Technology Indian Minister announced finding an ancient civilization’s remains off the Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat. Subsequent carbon dating showed the dates of artifacts from the area to be between 8,500 – 9,500 years old ( downloaded 11-09-2008). This placed the artifacts in the same general timeframe as the excavations at Jericho. Unfortunately for the traditional theory used to date the rise of India’s civilization, the underwater researcher, Graham Hancock, described substantial buildings measuring hundreds of feet in length and having drain basins running along the edge of the streets. (Reported by David Lewis in his chapter The Enigma of India’s Origins in Forbidden History.) This development meant that the dating for civilization in India, and perhaps elsewhere, must be re-evaluated. No longer was the earliest civilization dating linked to somewhere around 2,000 -- 1,500 BCE with the invasion of the Indo-Aryans.

During the most recent major ice age, it is well established that the water table for the oceans were somewhere in the vicinity of 320 feet (~100m) lower than the current levels. This depth has been validated in the Caribbean Sea and in the Indian Oceans. In fact, senior scientist at Columbia University, Ryan and Pitman writing in Noah’s Flood, use this information to help establish the concept that the flood of Noah was related to the re-opening of the Black Sea to water from the Mediterranean.

Additionally, several ancient writings speak of the loss of major landmasses and associated cities; for instance Rawana in the Sri Lanka writings, or the land of Kumari Kandam in the Silappadhikaram from India which supposedly existed as a Pandya kingdom between 30,000 and 16,500 years ago. During this time, people were said to live to extremely old ages because of the benefits of the yoga systems they practiced. Another Indian writing, the classic Mahabharata, mentions the hero of the story, Rama, looking to land where now sits the Arabian Sea. (Reported by David Lewis in his chapter The Enigma of India’s Origins in Forbidden History.) As in the discussion with my friend in graduate school, there are other minor texts relating examples of highly developed civilizations with sophisticated population centers.

These writings are not the only source of information where people seem to live a very long time and to extreme ages. The most common and popular writing for westerners is the Book of Genesis in the Bible. People living for hundreds of years (average 858) are not uncommon in the first few chapters of the text. The ancient lifetimes continue up until the flood which Noah and his family survived. Following the flood lifetimes decrease rapidly and are quickly within the limits most westerners accept today, except for Moses whose 120 years are unusual. Yet this is not the only other place where extremely long lifetimes are recorded. The Middle Eastern Tablet known as the Tablet of Antediluvian Kings (sometimes known as the Sumerian King list) show pre-diluvium kings living for thousands of years. Specifically the kings’ lifetimes averaged 30,150 years. “The list of pre-flood kings is interesting for two reasons. First, because it mentions an antediluvian civilization and a cataclysmic deluge, and second, because the pre-flood kings have really long life-spans” ( downloaded 11/09/2008). Since the names and reigning dates of these kings are mentioned in multiple places, including some hymns of praise, the actual meaning or implications of the list and longevity are not completely understood, but nevertheless raise questions since this same sense of extended longevity occurred in civilizations thousands of years and thousands of miles apart.

Thus, it is reasonable to question the “traditional” understanding of the dateline for civilization development. Also, if the timeline for civilization development is incorrect, then it would be sensible to question the assumptions concerning the role played by God or some higher power in the history and development of humanity. Perhaps the earlier traditions of the cyclic nature of the relationship between God and humanity rings more true than some of the more recent interpretations of the relationship which are based upon assessments within the “traditional” historical evolution of humanity.

Additional Readings on the Cambay discussion:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Beginning of divisiveness in religious thinking

One of my favorite contemporary songs is Dido's, and it's called White Flag. What brings it to mind is, although it talks about human love it is also appropriate for anyone wanting to talk about a greater love. By this I do not mean to denigrate human love, but rather want to ask a question; What is it that you believe so strongly that you would "go down with the ship" and that there would be "no white flag of surrender over your door"? For me it is the idea of a single faith appearing to us as a number of different religions.

Specifically I think the idea of a special religion begins to appear with the acculturation process. About the age of six people have the ability to operationalize their world and this allows for moving beyond living in a world driven by experience into a world driven by representations of the world. Joseph Chilton Pearce writing in Crack in the Cosmic Egg stated: "We interacted with the real world in our first six years or so through transactive movement of the primary processing. Culture, however, is a set of imaginative expectancies. To interact with the world of our culture we had to create the necessary concepts. Cultureal concepts are abstract creations" (p. 29)

Thus, it is the cultural interpretation of how the world acts that allows us to move one step beyond our basic level of interacting with the world and into a world where reality is a consequence of not what really exists, but what we have learned to interpret as real. The sad part of this, as Pearce goes on to demonstrate, is that we are not even aware of our not being in touch with reality, or even ourselves. The concepts we have developed become the vehicle we use to discuss reality with others, and so over time, they also become the vehicles we use to discuss what is real with ourselves. It becomes so strongly rooted that we are unable to distinguish that we are living based on a construct, an abstract concept, rather than what is actual.

The consequence of this for the western minded has become, to paraphrase Karl Jung, we are sick because we have developed a veneer that keeps us from ourselves, from the real root of our sickness. The thicker the veneer, the more distant we are from ourselves. For us this cure must be the movement of the person back to the self, back to communications with the primary processing capability that began to disappear around six years of age. To do this we employ all sorts of intervention techniques: therapy, regressions, psychedelic drugs, etc. In fact, many people have become quite wealthy leading others on journeys aimed at removing the veneer.

Pearce makes the point however, that any attempt we make to modify the acculturated learnings merely impacts another layer of the culture and re-energizes the system. Cosequently, we are not able to change the system by these various attempts that bring us back to the culture and this is what started me thinking about Dido's song. Perhaps if we can identify something in our lives that we hold to be so valuable that we will not surrender it, we can begin the process of cracking the egg of culture. Once the crack has appeared we can slowly widen the crack and see the world for what it is, a culture with specific values and limits, and the impact of the transgressor on the culture.

What is it that you believe so strongly that there will be no white flag above your grave, that is so important to you that you will go down with the ship? For me it is the awareness that faith in something greater than the self drives the crack in the egg, not the interpretation of the various religions.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Paradox in Mysticism and Quantum Physics

Paradox is, effectively, two concepts that are mutually exclusive yet nevertheless exist in the same time and space. For instance, in terms of faith, it is often said that Deity is so small it can live within us yet so vast it is greater than time and space. This is a paradox, how can both things be simultaneously true? Or in terms of physics, how can there be up to eleven dimensions (string theory) while we can only discern four: length, width, height, and time. However, on a more basic level our entire universe exists in a paradox.

Physicist, Dr. Mani Bhaumik—co-inventor of the Lasik laser, observed in his book Code Name God “…(the essence of both mysticism and quantum physics is paradox) what is perceived as empty can also be perceived as full, in the sense of an infinite potential” (pg. 120). By this he was intimating that there is a relationship between the understanding found in mystical experiences and teachings and the understanding evolving from the study of quantum physics. Why might this happen?

At its most profound level mysticism attempts to describe the relationship between the universe and the human being. Historically, mystics have commented that there is no distinction between them and God. Generally this has been understood as heresy by the major religions. However, that is only because they do not have the experience of the mystics. From a mystical perspective there is no difference when the mystic is operating in what the Hindu refers to as “the bliss”. At this point of the experience, the mystic has tapped something beyond the self, something which transcends time and space, something in which the mystic enjoys the experience of non-distinction from the environment--in all its various forms. At this time, there is no past or future, only eternal present and complete unity with all of creation and beyond. What has been classified as the ego/self disappears for the duration of the blissfulness.

This is not as distant as it might seem. For fifty years the work of Abraham Maslow and other humanistic researchers have sought to understand the process of transformation in which people move beyond their environmental boundaries. When this happens there is a sense of unity with all creation. Boundaries disappear as does the sense of consciousness of time as it is normally understood or experienced. In fact, Maslow, Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences, cites Bucke’s work from 1923 called Cosmic Consciousness, when he declares: “Cosmic Consciousness involves an attention-widening so that the whole cosmos is perceived as a unity, and one’s place in this whole is simultaneously perceived” (p. 78).

Still this is not enough to classify this phenomenon as a paradox. Instead, it merely describes the ability of the human being to move beyond the culturally limited boundaries of experience derived from the acculturation process. And perhaps this is the paradox: that there is ability inside a person which allows him or her to somehow move beyond the limits established by society. This must, at the least, imply the capability of holding multiple conflicting perceptions simultaneously. In psycho-dynamic terms this might well be the internal struggle which defines individual growth towards completeness versus the acculturated process of wanting to maintain a homeostatic environment. This is indeed a paradox, if not the paradox, of human psychology; that a person can hold mutually exclusive perceptions in tension and act upon them independently and exclusively.

For the quantum physicist the problem is more concrete, but less easy to describe. For example, photon, electrons, and recently atoms, have been shown to show the same inexplicable quantum behavior – to approach matter and suddenly appear on the other side of the object, without seeming to have actually encountered the physical object. Based upon what is traditionally accepted about matter this should not be happening. Things do not suddenly “jump” from one place to another. Yet the entire current theory of electron orbits states exactly that. Electrons are either in one orbit or another, they are never found in between orbits. Consequently they do “jump” between orbits or points in space.

Another paradox exists with the concept of wave action of electrons. In theory the electron wave exists in all possible points simultaneously. It only becomes a particle at the point it is observed and all of the other possibilities “collapse” or become part of the single resolution of where the electron is at any specific point in time. Thus, the electron is at all possible points on the wave, and there are mathematical equations used to demonstrate this theory and the resulting experiments, simultaneously—a paradoxical statement.

Specifically in terms of Dr. Bhaumik’s earlier statement, the mystical perspective is that since there is no distinction between God/universe/consciousness and the mystic then the universe is pregnant with possibilities for creation yet it is empty of everything that distinguishes separateness from creation. Just as the electron is on all points of the wave until it collapses because of the presence of an observer, so the universe for the mystic is everywhere simultaneously until something brings about an intervention of consciousness into the experience and collapses the blissful state. It is in this state of blissfulness that miracles occur and are not limited by circumstances.

This is what the various faiths have taught us all along. Matter is a product of something beyond the physical and as such it is subject to mutation and variation from previous constriction by something operating at the level of the non-material – at the creative level. This is the point Dr. Bhaumik was making in his writing. This creative level has been accessible to mysticism, regardless of religious doctrine, for millennia and accesses the physical world--in ways a materialistically based approach can not address--to alter it. Mysticism provides the insight into the application and instructions in how to access these paradoxes. Faith provides the vehicle to apply the insights from mysticism.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Heroes as Transgressors

“The body is responsible for an intricate network of psychological negotiations to preserve us as we are. But we have been made to believe that our body is constantly tempting us with its desire—when it is the soul that will not settle for the body’s meaningless sacrifices, and it is the soul that is responsible for boldness, daring, risk-taking, and transgression” (p. 49). Thus states Brazilian Rabbi Nilton Bonder in his book Our Immoral Soul: A Manifesto of Spiritual Disobedience.

Rabbi Bonder makes the point that it is not the staid members of a culture that contribute to the redefinition and re-energizing of the culture. Rather it is the transgressors who are able to hear or see or feel another perspective from the voice of deity than the one that is constantly being heard by the masses. Indeed, it is the person who understands a different interpretation of reality that allows for the civilization to move forward rather than remaining the same for generations. People are not redeemed for performing the same activity in the same way over generations. Instead, people are uplifted by behaving in ways that energize the soul and help the body respond to divine directive, whether the response has a cultural blessing or not.

These people are the risk takers. And notably, it is only the risk takers who are able to re-construct the civilization in the present and for the future. Years ago while researching Chaos Theory I discovered some articles linking Chaos Theory and Medical outcome. Specifically, one of the reports focused on the importance of chaos versus random or consistent heartbeat helping the person to stay healthy. As it turned out in the article if the heartbeat is random it will cause death. If it is consistent and repetitious it is also dangerous to health. Apparently, the best type of beat for the heart is one based on a little chaos (very minor but measureable variations over time) in the beat so that everything is not the same from beat to beat.

Variation from the expected norm allows the person to prosper in terms of health and also in terms of moving humanity along. The great leaders who influenced the world have essentially been people who called us to redefine the meaning of doing what’s right and challenged them to do what’s good. Sometimes, as Rabbi Bonder contended, this movement to do the good meant not doing what is right, as when Abraham did not sacrifice Isaac, the right thing, but presented an offering provided by deity because he heard another voice than the one from his culture.

This type of action required not only the ability to stand against convention, but also to reach into the conventional interpretation and reframe it, literally to hear another voice than his peers. He stepped outside of what was right, the offering, and did what is good. The result was the beginning of the Jewish community. And this is exactly what our faith calls us to do—to step outside our comfort zone, to hear another voice, to act on that voice, and redefine what our culture perceives as its future. Faith empowers risk, transgression, and forgiveness. It’s our choice whether to perform the good at the cost of the right.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Consciousness, cells, and wave collapse as faith outcomes.

Earlier today I was thinking about the links and relationship of quantum physics and the macro-world. According to Dr. Goswami, there are three aspects of quantum that do not work well in the macro world of Newtonian physics: discontinuity, non-locality, and tangled hierarchy. The idea of tangled hierarchy is the most difficult to conceptualize and still develop some meaningful examples for non-physicists like myself.

As I understand the tangled hierarchy concept, there is no distinction between subject and object. This is exemplified in the observation (and requirement?) that there must be an observer present to collapse the possibility wave into material phenomena. A tremendous amount of research exists to support this concept and the observations which generate the data appear consistently from experiment to experiment. This much is relatively clear for me and I think I “get it” when it comes to the big picture.

As challenges go my most difficult to understand is how the set of possibilities collapse to form the universe we live in. If there is a relationship between the quantum aspects of our universe and the macro-world which is built on the foundation of the quantum materials then what or when or how or whatever happened to collapse the universe into what we know today? How could the possibilities collapse without someone to cause the collapse while the observer could not exist until after the collapse occurred? How could the universe collapse without having an observer present to cause the collapse? So no matter what happens there is an antecedent occurrence which makes the outcome possible, but the antecedent is a consequence of the prior event so it is always a matter of a never ending hierarchy just like the chicken and egg problem.

Dr. Goswami explains as best I understand it, that the observer is the first complex cell that developed and had a consciousness. This part that a cell had consciousness, is not difficult to understand given the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton and his research on cell membranes and consciousness. They fit together well. However, I’m hung up in between the collapsing of the possibilities and the creation of the cell. Still this is where consciousness as the underlying structure of the universe began to make itself felt. So when the cell developed and stabilized it was possible for consciousness to impact the universe in a material form into specific outcomes. This caused the infinite number of possibilities to manifest as a single form that we have as the universe today.

We know, according to this model, that consciousness is the underlying and causal property of the universe. Evidence, anecdotal and inferential, indicates consciousness has not stopped interacting with the consciousness that we bring to the events of our lives. Consequently, our activity in describing a limited number of the infinite potential outcomes represents faith which drives the collapse of the possibilities. To describe specific results amidst the vast number of potential outcomes is the expression of having faith that someone can change his or her world in a particular direction.

Each of our religions attempts to help us get to the point that we can exercise faith and describe a limited outcome to the future events. Ideally if we all worked together we could collapse the possibility waves into one where peace and love are the outcomes. The challenge for us is to not specify how that outcome has to happen – just that it will happen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hesitating in conversation - faith in action

When reaching the end of our rope with another person, it is really easy to forget that the rope is of infinite length with places to hold on to so we can rest between tuggings. The rest stops on the rope help us to ask one very basic question before we respond to a situation: Do I need to think before I answer?

Most of the time, I find, it is easier not to ask myself that question. I just want to get out of me, whatever it is that arose never considering intentionality of the other person. And here's the interesting part - even if I do not know the intentionality, I act upon my interpretation of the intentionality. My internal systems act based upon my instantaneous imputation of motive into a single isolated event and occasionally like everyone else, I’m right. So I hold on to the times I have been correct and forget about the vastly larger numbers of times I have been wrong.

Some studies indicate people process information on an unconscious level in about .1 - .2 second. (We have received input and are ready to respond within this period of time, regardless of our consciousness of the input.) However, we process in a conscious way in about .5 seconds. (We can determine the content of the input in a conscious manner.) So whatever issues I have operating in the background, they will be part of my unconscious response, if I do not hesitate – even if my perceptions are incorrect.

I remember learning many years ago in junior college psychology class that pipe smokers were considered more intellectual and objective than non-pipe smokers. Of course the answer eluded us for a while until we could observe a pipe smoker in action. One of the students asked the smoker a question and he answered AFTER pausing and puffing on his pipe. We, as did other people, assumed he was thinking about the question. He wasn’t. He was smoking the pipe. However, we attributed a quality to the behavior and so drew some additional, and incorrect, conclusions.

In terms of faith the key is the future of the relationship. It is about being able to return to difficult and divisive issues time and again without damaging the relationship itself. My hesitation shows my willingness to give credence to the points and suppositions of the other. Even if it is only the pipe smoker in action, since we have all hesitated at one point or another when we have wanted to say something, we give the hesitation a quality of thoughtfulness and purposefulness helping to strengthen the moment from both sides. It ceases to be a moment of argumentation, but rather becomes a moment of possibilities or potentialities that draw us together into the movements of a greater dance.

In this instance my faith causes me to act upon the infinite possibilities of a future relationship. It is kept alive because of my choice to hesitate despite my intent to do something. And it seems faith is like this: it allows the option of an alternative choice when circumstances see not an infinite set, but a calculable number with anticipated outcomes. In these situations faith raises its head and sees beyond the horizon of conscious perception into the vastness still being formed.

A friend forwarded this short video about the importance of hesitation, 6 and 1/2 minutes. Please enjoy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Familiarity of Faith

Amazing isn’t it. How when you’re going to write about something for your next entry and someone sends you a note and suddenly your focus for the entry changes. This is exactly what happened today. I thought I wanted to talk about faith (duh, what’s the name of the website) but also a specific aspect of faith—pausing before responding to another person’s comments and how this demonstrates faith. But the exchange told me that what I really wanted to present for consideration was familiarity of faith.

By familiarity of faith I mean the perception that we have faith in something simply because we expect it to be a particular way since it has always been that way. Think about the sun rising in the morning. In all of our collective experiences it has always happened. Collectively we all agree that it will happen again when morning arrives. But that’s the circular reasoning since morning is when the sun rises and that’s how we define morning. There is a danger here of missing the focus. It is not really faith in the sun rising tomorrow. It is the expectation we hold that it will happen: assumed, assured, and predictable. Where is the faith?

There is no faith involved in this aspect of our perception. It is an assumption existing independently of our actual faith activities and adventures. Perhaps as children we questioned our parents or teachers about the sun rising in the morning and were told to have faith and it will happen. At what point did we cease having faith in the sun rising and it became a banal statement of expectation? How did we move from expectancy and involvement of faith into a world where personal involvement was not necessary and we still called it faith?

The major religions of the world, or some call them faiths, teach an interesting formula of involvement and detachment for faith to occur. Faith requires the looking forward to possible outcomes and the perception that the specifics have already occurred. This allows for both detachment and involvement but they are used to moderate each other, not to define them. This is where the problem with familiarity of faith occurs. The detachment exists, but it is not truly detachment it is rather a type of unrecognized boredom that has no content of interaction with the future. The involvement that brings my expectation of outcomes is not part of the process. The future is perceived as the status quo moving forward in time just as each day moves forward, but there is no expectancy of different possible outcomes.

As a result, mountains remain where they are. Students of religion and disciples of dogma doubt the reality of the miracles occurring in other faiths; unfortunately this perception contaminates even their own.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Adding a couple of days to the faith

Sharing my challenges as I go through this recovery period is proving more interesting and challenging than I had thought it would be. My guess was that I'd have some pain and discomfort for a few days and then a couple of weeks of healing while gradually returning to my normal activities, minus riding my motorcycle. Unfortunately this is not how it's been going. I had a follow-up visit, unscheduled, today because of an unexplained swelling in my neck.

In terms of tearing into my faith about recovery, the "we don't know what this is, but need to watch it for a few days" is more destructive than "we need to get you into surgery right now" which declares knowledge and approach leading to cure. It honestly is the not knowing what is happening versus what should be happening, since I went through this once before with flying colors that causes discomfiture. Seems to me the point of faith, that we all share, is that knowing reduces discontinuity or conflict within ourselves. Knowing what to do and what the outcome could be puts pieces of a puzzle in place. This allows us to construct scenarios around resolving our fears, at least for me it seems to.

And ultimately this is the problem, or challenge, or hope that each of us has to live with -- that the possibilities of outcome can be substantially limited and thereby allowing us to address the issue at hand, recovery. One of the issues that this scenario drives for me is the question of faith in god for salvation. Certainly accepting that whatever I'm doing will result in salvation, or immortality of soul, reduces my inner conflict and provides a vehicle where I can objectivize my behavior against an external standard and proclaim, "See I earned it. It's mine by right and privilege".

In my current situation, I can not point to some objective activity and say, I've earned this healing which I am due, since I did not do anything except to let the possibilities of healing within the natural universe take charge as they should, therefore I have no obligation due me. If I had fervently prayed for healing, or meditated to a healing program, or even just sat quietly and let divine energy flow over me, this would have been something. Yet I did none of these because my faith said it will work according to God’s plan.

And that’s the bummer. I gave it up to God’s plan, to the consciousness of the universe for an outcome that I held to be favorable. Only now that something I did not expect to be present has happened, what justification for MY desired outcome is there? The universe is filled with an infinite multitude of possible outcomes for my situation. Faith is my ability to see that despite this impossible number of outcomes, those that will develop are those that will allow me to continue along this mortal path until the next situation triggers my wonderment and caution about how to employ my faith for something other than fear of an unknown outcome.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When Faith is the same for us all

Over the last 20 years I have been involved with 5 Motor Vehicle Accidents that did a tremendous amount of damage. In addition I was also involved in an earthquake injury that created more problems related to head trauma and loss of personal awareness. Each of these insults to the brain produced aspects of personality shifts which had to be corrected before I could return to my business work. Fortunately for me when the disruptions occurred, I had enough mental health resources and knowing how the system worked to request the help I needed.

The physicians I requested hfelp from included: Psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, neuro-psychologists, primary care physician. Additional people I had to include were the Washington State organization for on the job accidents, my private insurance company, and the insurance company of the other people involved in the claim. In each situation the problem became more difficult because who is responsible for what portion of the claim is very ambiguous with pre-existing injuries. As an example, with the first head injury there was little problem attributing the injury to that driver at a 100% likelihood that she created the problem with residual effects that I had.

The second accident I was 85% recovered from the first accident. Now the doctor’s had to split the cause of the injury from his car to my car and body and subtract out the amount of damage that was related to the previous accident and re-aggravated by the second accident. On top of this the doctors had to guess how long the injuries would last and the probability of getting well from these new injuries and associated prior existing injuries. Ultimately no one can do this so it becomes a matter of the hierarchical structuring of the most talented physician and the physicians discipline that adds or deletes authority to the inquiry.

Having been through multiple iterations of these little operas and dramas, I have pretty well left the legal issues in my attorney’s hands and try to continue to work, which means that I couldn’t have been hurt seriously because if I were hurt seriously I could not be working. On the other side of the issue, is that to take time off from work means that you a not really injured that badly, only that you are trying to fluff up the claim to get more money. Anecdotally I’m sure some of this must go on. However, most of the studies which I had researched until a few years earlier showed quite the opposites.

Fifteen years earlier I went through a similar, but more technically challenging surgery, as the one I had on 9/8. Despite all my good intentions and expected outcomes, based on previous history, I can’t get from hurting to healing. I’m hold up in my house with little I can do to relieve the stress or the boredom. Since it is neck surgery the doc said it will be three months before I can ride my motorcycle again. I made plans to spend a lot of time reading, but with shooting pains interrupting my thinking that is not working either.

I wanted to share my experience in this matter, since it is only my faith that is getting me through this crazy-making time. And I suspect that I am not the only one involved in this circle of life that has given over everything to their faith.

Would be interested in hearing how you have applied you faith to a real world dilemma.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Onward and upward through Faith

What did he mean when paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin spoke of a consciousness underpinning the direction of evolution? Could he have been talking of a compromise between the Cartesian split of domains of knowledge? Or was he, as a Roman Catholic priest, trying to describe some other aspect of creation?

As it turns out de Chardin was speaking of his version of the creation story and its impact on the human race. In his mind, consciousness imbued all of creation with a sense of energy or direction to evolution. He tried to expand upon Darwin’s idea in The Origin of the Species that discussed the movement of creation to ever more complex life forms. For Darwin there was a distinct energy to creation which allowed his theory to account for the “purpose” of evolution. It was no longer enough to document the fossil records and the speciation process he found in the isolated Galapogos Islands. Putting the two ideas together, along with his drawings and his data from observation, he made a strong argument for the constant “improvement” of the earth species into more complex and better adapted creatures.
De Chardin, as a paleontologist understood the importance of this gap in Darwin’s reasoning. Indeed, Darwin had made conclusions which seemed to point to an upward course of development, but he could not explain what was driving the process. Seeming cogent arguments invariably lead back to some source external to materialism as the underpinning force. Even today there is neither philosophical nor physical justification in materialism--based on recent discoveries in quantum--for linkage between an individual’s brain and the same individual’s consciousness. Even discussions of epiphenomena (secondary aspects) of the brain as a justification for consciousness seem incapable to objectively describing differences in consciousness; such as, dreaming, non-dreaming, daydreaming, and “paranormal phenomena”.
For Teilhard consciousness underlay this movement to higher and higher complexity and it was self-evident, or nearly so. One had only to look at the increasing levels of complexity in the materialistic arguments for creation of the universe to see the presence of a force driving evolution. Although there was no “Big Bang”, as we understand it today, when he was developing his theory our present knowledge supports much of his argument. In terms of creation it starts with temperature & something. Then as expansion occurs and temperatures drop the traditional process occurs: sub-atomic particles yield atoms, which yield molecules, which yield compounds, which yield etc. until the planets and the universe exist as we currently know them. This movement to complexity seemed guided to him, just as it did for Darwin.
However, de Chardin goes a step further. As a scientist, he recognized that, if there were indeed a direction to creation, it had to lead somewhere. As a priest, he recognized that the direction was to the Omega Point, the crowning point of creation. This point had two components. First humanity would continue to improve and evolve until we effectively ruled out war and discord as solutions. We would work together in a greater community not unlike the early Star Trek episodes which occurred after his death. The second part was that as this occurred Christ would return to lead the universe. And this would be the glory of this consciousness’s leading—a time of peace, caring, and glorification of the human occurring through the process of evolution being driven by divine guidance.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Faith makes tumor go away on camera

The link presented provides a discussion of tumors disappearing from various people. Additionally it shows the sonographic disappearance of a tumor that responds in a matter of minutes to the administration of healing energy. It is the consequence of someone having faith in the cure. However, the faith is not from the person with the cancer, but rather from the practitioners of the medicineless healing: Chi-lel Qigong. (More information can be gathered at )

This real time experience from 1995 shows the importance of faith in the healing process. (The video shows this happening in about 1 to 1/2 minutes. The actual video available at the website listed in above shows this happening in about 3 minutes because it shows more of the opening activity and some additional details of the tumor starting to shrink.) When I share this with my world religions students they do not know how to respond. The first thing that want to know is if it is fake. After some discussion they realize that it is not fake, although certainly some would argue that it must be since this is not supposed to happen. According to the students' perspective, representing most of the world religions, miraculous healing does not occur. If it does it does not take place in a few minutes time. If it does it is not supposed to be studied and visible on electronic equipment. They can not understand how this process works. In their favor I must add, that most of them want to believe but they have been persuaded that this is not possible by other people.

Once the class settles down to the discussion at hand; what does this say about faith, they seriously begin to question the meaning of faith. They want to know what happened to the woman in the video that she gained enough faith to have the tumor disappear. Automatically they assume that it is the faith of the person with the disability that provides the healing. Although we are discussing world religions, they forget in the moment, that most of the major world religions offers stories of people being healed through someone's faith. To them initially this is a story of an isolated person who believes so strongly that her faith allows the medicineless approach to work. (Not too different from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, etc stories of saints and prophets.)

Still in the video the tumor going away is not the result of the faith of the woman, but of the healers who are practicing their energy work on her. They are using their energy to impact her weakened system. Thus, the question is who's faith led to the cure, the woman's or the healing team. This is the same questions that religions have been asking, and not successfully answering, for thousands of years.

Perhaps the answer is that collective faith allowed the healing because we are all part of the same faith development and enhancement system. Perhaps we participate in the healing as others carry us when our faith is weak, just like we carry them when their faith is weak. Perhaps there is something to this idea that we all help and support each other through faith in whatever higher power is acknowledged.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Faith powers quantum possibilities

Quantum physics and Hindu philosophy are being linked in the USA by the work of physicist Dr. Amit Goswami. And it is receiving increasing attention. This is both interesting and not surprising for me as an instructor of world religions and a student of mysticism. When I talk about world religions with my classes, I have always maintained that mysticism is the one aspect of all religions that show a true commonality and conceptual framework. The mystic realizes that a point exists where there is no distinction between God (consciousness) and the mystic.

Dr. Goswami describes this relationship through multiple books, with each getting better as his own understanding of the topic and the philosophy integrate. As a Christian trained theologian, I am very impressed with the integration he provides. As a “student” of Sri Aurobindo, I find his perspective not altogether different from what I have experienced in some of my own mystical encounters. The point that Dr. Goswami makes about “tangled hierarchies” was difficult for me to understand until I realized that this was what Jesus referred to when he talked about God as a father and people as children and the relationship between them. We make demands on each other and then allow the “other” to respond to the demand exactly like a child with a parent. This can occur because the "other" contains an infinite and all inclusive set of possibilities

Frequently authors will discuss the philosophy of Buddhism and its approach to understanding the mind and the links with the possibilities beyond. Unfortunately, there is seldom a reference to which variation of Buddhism is being presented. (Sometimes I wonder if there is even an awareness on the part of the authors that there are various branches to Buddhism, call them denominations if you will.) Linking Hindu insights and Buddhist concepts Dr. Goswami’s focuses on possibilities that exist in the ‘nothingness” of the Void or nirguna (attribute less) in Hindu practice. This is a place or no place of possibilities waiting to appear through the activity of the tangled hierarchy calling into existence a specific outcome.

It is the relationships (3) of the tangled hierarchy, self, consciousness, us, that causes one of the infinite possibilities to collapse into the material world. Seems to me that this is where faith occurs and guidance provided by religion or spirituality or whatever it might be called ends. Faith allows me to “dance” with the possible outcomes in the same manner as Watson described in Gifts of Unknown Things.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

World Religion or World Faith - Is there a difference

Not certain how anyone else feels about this, but it seems to me there is a significant difference between faith and religion? Discussions about a world religion generally set me back a couple of paces. The idea that someone or some governmental entity would be dictating to me the set of religious doctrines to believe creates a nearly instant resistance. I’m not talking about the “world religion” as mentioned in Christian Bible as "The Book of Revelation”, although there is certainly personal concern if it were to happen. Nor is this a reference to a cycle process like in Hinduism and Janism where we will all voluntarily return to a terrific relationship with the creator as the cycles work through to conclusion. There is just something in the gut that reacts to the idea of a prescribed set of beliefs.

The idea of a world faith feels less defined to me. It tells of a personal experience and how that is interpreted and integrated by the person having it. And it need not even have a set of beliefs associated with it. Interestingly, faith does not even relate to a higher power, in the traditional sense. For instance, while in the military, I had many friends in the Marine Corps. For them the “higher power” was membership in the Corps, when all else failed “Semper Fi”. This is where their faith resided. It made them strong in character, hopeful in spirit, and trusting outside of themselves. So faith needn’t be tied to religion or lack of religion.

These qualities of strength, hope, and trust seem to be what allows a person to move forward with his or her life. Miss one and the future seems lost. To accept adversity and success with equal grace must be a mark of a well-centered and present-focused person. I don’t think we get these qualities from religion, do you?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ancient Memories Arising from our Depths?

World religions fascinate me and I enjoy teaching them. One class focuses on Eastern major religions, and the other focuses on Mid-Eastern major religions. This is great for me since I really enjoy learning about religious experience and religious practices around the world. Also I have a very strong interest in the mystical traditions of the major religions as they apply to my life and the lives of my friends and students. It is this mystical background that truly underlies each of the major religions and brings them on to a common ground.
In class discussing common experiences of mystical traditions students quickly realize that whatever the religious affiliation of the speaker, the aspects sound amazingly similar from religion to religion. For instance, religious mysticism will address the experience of unity with the divine. It will discuss the sense of oneness that comes from union with all of creation. There are different languages and names used to describe the deity, but all of them essentially become one with the inability to describe this experience with current vocabulary. It is impossible to describe something for which there are no categories for reference. Yet, as soon as the experience is able to be placed in a category it becomes a non-experience, only a set of statements removed from the conversation by at least one step.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow (Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences) spoke often about "peak experiences", ones which were transformative and incorporated a sense of unity with everything. Basing his assessment on perception, insights, and expectation from clinical situations without current state-of-the-art brain scanning tools, he believed that most if not all people were capable of having an experience of unity with the universe and the divine. It was even, he thought, part of the human make-up to seek the experience of union with the divine. People were not isolated stand alone specs of matter. They were part of something more than just a collection of atoms.
For Maslow humans had the capacity to seek for a living experience, one that includes not merely the material definitions of what constitutes the universe, but one that breathes with life the way God breathed a soul into people (Genesis 2:7). Perhaps the desire for mystical or unity types of experiences is the ancient reflection of our awakening from the soul giving breath of God while seeking for more. Perhaps this is an ancient memory returning to our semi-consciousness as we currently gasp for breath in a spirit denying and suffocating world where everything that exists does so without a wholeness, a holiness-if you will, a gestalt.