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?