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.