Early Buddhism, Quantum Physics, and Relativity with Bhante Samāhita
A lecture on the parallels of early Buddhist teachings and quantum physics.
A lecture on the parallels of early Buddhist teachings and quantum physics.
The Intention Experiment
I’m reading a book called Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza. In chapter three, he recounts research from an article in Wired (“Mind Over Matter,” Apr. 1995). Now from my perspective, this is not anything out of my understanding of things because this is the world I’ve been reading about and living in for the last couple of decades, but I know some of you are going to drop your jaws over this. Good! We want that kind of response. Your world is about to crack open. Here goes.
Rene Peoc’h is a French researcher who wanted to study the possibility that intention might operate in our world. He started with a computerized robot set up as a random event generator. Set lose in an area, the robot turned right half the time and left half the time, thereby covering the area equally over time. This is perfectly in keeping with the idea of a random generator. Then he allowed some chicks to imprint on the computerized robot as if it were their mother. So the chicks bonded with the robot creating an energetic bond on their part (at least). Once the chicks had imprinted, Peoc’h put them in a cage where they could see the robot but not go to it. What do you think happened?
If you hold a materialistic view of the world, you would say nothing. The random event generator can’t be affected by the minds of the chicks. It’s ridiculous! But- the pattern of movement of the robot clustered near the chicks’ cage. No longer was the robot moving randomly, but now it had gravitated near the babies. Cool experiment, right? And easily replicated. The larger question becomes if baby chicks can influence objects around them, how much influence do we have? And how do we develop and control it??? That’s what Becoming Supernatural is all about. Interested? Grab the book but be warned, the work is hard and all-consuming. Advanced yogic practices are made accessible to everyone.
Hopefully, I’ll have more to share later but I wanted to share some personal happenings here, too. I am about four months out from returning to the US (YAY! I CANNOT WAIT!!!). My third book is about to be released (FINALLY!!!). The downside is that things are about to get very busy. This blog will probably be interrupted by these major life upheavals.
This is a book I thought long and hard about highlighting. I expected great things and was overall disappointed. Unfortunately John Horgan is a reductionist materialist and despite the access he had to various spokespeople on mysticism, he remains thoroughly unconvinced. He is a science writer who holds the dogmatic party line through the entirety of the book. That said, I think some valuable perspective can be gleaned from the people Horgan talks to. It’s worth the read to get an overall feel for the modern history of the topic and hear from some of the players.
Horgan begins with a definition of mysticism within the historical context. He interviews Huston Smith who discusses mysticism as a cross-cultural, cross-religious experience. Smith represents the notion of the perennial philosophy. The author’s search next takes him to a two day conference in Chicago where mysticism is treated as a literary phenomenon. These scholars know in great detail the texts left behind by Eckhart, St. Teresa of Avila, Shankara, etc. But sadly, none of them has any personal experience with anything remotely mystical. The journey continues with an interview of Ken Wilber dubbed ‘the weightlifting Bodhisattva’ by Horgan. Wilbur stands behind Smith adhering to the perennial philosophy but also embraces science as a way to explore and define mystical experience.
Important information is raised in the chapter called Can Neurotheology Save Us?. Horgan visits with Andrew Newberg, the doctor featured back in 2001 in Newsweek’s article, “God and the Brain: How We’re Wired for Spirituality.” Wouldn’t it be nice if brain scans could prove mystical states and help us to understand them? Unfortunately, a review of data collected on all sorts of meditation doesn’t support any nice clean conclusions according to Jensine Andreson, a theology professor at Boston University. And that in turn brings into question all the benefits touted for meditation. A review of the studies looking at meditation and its benefits Andreson believes, are poorly designed and won’t hold up to scrutiny. Of course, as it relates to mystical practice, mystics don’t meditate to lower their blood pressure but I would concede that a whole lot of Americans do increasingly view meditation as a health practice. Should they?
Continuing the scientific pursuit of mystical states, Horgan interviewed Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Canada. Starting in the 1980s, Persinger began studying the brain’s response to electro-magnetic pulses to certain areas of the brain. 40% of Persinger’s test subjects experience a presence. The Canadian magazine Mclean’s called this device, “the God machine.” Persinger maintains that he has not addressed the God question with his work, rather his interest is in understanding the electrical pattern of the brain that leads to religious belief. But does the machine produce mystical experiences? No. Apparently, no one tested has reported the typical sensations of bliss, unity, or ineffability commonly reported by mystics. Scientific attempts to link temporal lobe excitation or epilepsy to mystical experience do not hold up either.
Horgan next turns to practitioner of Zen and neurologist, James Austin who penned the book, Zen and the Brain. Austin calls his approach perennial psychophysiology. Instead of gaining metaphysical insight, Austin thinks the mystic undergoes deep changes in personality. Someone who has had these experiences becomes more stable, more compassionate, and more selfless. As a specialist in brain disorders, Austin attempts to separate healthy mysticism from other illnesses. His approach relies on the idea that mystical experience releases excitotoxins which cause the loss of neurons. This in turn, allows us to get rid of those things that distort our view of reality. This is as scary as it is fascinating. For me, it makes mystical experience similar to brain damage. Can that really be?
No book on mysticism would be complete without a foray into drug induced mystical experience. Horgan looks at the history of LSD, DMT, and ayahuasca. He visits Stanislov Grof, who is involved in the transpersonal psychology movement. Grof believes that we must move into a new paradigm where mind has primacy over matter (the book was published in 2003, not a unique idea now). There’s an interesting discussion of Rick Strassman’s work as outlined in DMT: The Spirit Molecule. The colorful Terrence McKenna makes an appearance in a later chapter where he advocates the use of psychedelics.
The book is a nice romp through lots of questions with little in the way of conclusions. I often had the feeling that the author was totally out of his depth. Why did this topic appeal to him? He remained a science writer who attempted to fill pages. Most of them are interesting. I wonder what the book would have looked like with another author or even what the book would look like if updated.
Open new doorways and celebrate by reading!!! And don’t forget to enter my book contest by commenting on the post below.
With Jupiter Gardens closing its doors, I’ve decided to re-release INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS. I’ve had an amazing time working with Anna Spies of EerilyFair (https://www.facebook.com/eerilyfairdesign/). She is a talented and imaginative cover designer and here’s a peek at the new cover design. Freakin’ awesome job!
As part of the process, I got to view photos of teenage male models and choose one for Blake. Somehow I accidentally sent some of those images to my son via Facebook. That provoked a few awkward questions!!
Reincarnation: Past Lives & the Akashic Record by Lois J. Wetzel
I downloaded this book recently following a lead from Dana Taylor (www.supernalliving.com). It is the second book by Lois J. Wetzel concerning case studies of past life readings she’s done. This book clarifies some of the issues raised in the first book and goes on to share healing aspects that clients have experienced as a result of the readings. Wetzel also says that she has had readers report being healed just by reading the book.
Wetzel begins the book with the belief that we are immortal, spiritual beings reincarnating to learn lessons for the soul’s evolution. Eventually we become Master Souls and move on to other levels of development in the spirit world.
In order to help clients deal with issues or problems, she describes a process where she reads an individual’s Akashic records. This is a different process than doing a past life regression. Using a photograph of the client, Wetzel connects to the person and, while in trance, views past lives. The client does not have to be present or be hypnotized.
The book does not attempt to prove reincarnation (from a Buddhist perspective, the more correct term is rebirth. Only advanced masters reincarnate. The rest of us stumble back and take rebirth.). However, there is mention of some of the scientific work investigating reincarnation including that of Ian Stevenson, Jim Tucker, and Brian Weiss.
Readers will probably be as surprised as Wetzel was that she has seen past lives as dolphins and faeries. She also talks about overlapping and parallel lives which may be difficult for some. In addition, she’s viewed lifetimes prior to recorded history and glimpsed civilizations we apparently have no record of.
The case study section of the book provides a transcript of a reading followed by comments from the client. There’s no doubt that the readings often resonate with the client and many things are confirmed. The power of the work lies in its ability to provide healing and consolation for the individuals seeking it.
Reincarnation: Past Lives & the Akashic Record is an engaging read and will leave readers wondering about their own lives and the ones they’ve lived previously. What is a hold-over from the past? What kind of healing can be had here and now? All good questions.
Amazon link: http://goo.gl/Sc806k
Author Website: http://hotpinklotus.com
Dana Taylor’s website: http://supernalliving.com
Continuing with JH Brennan’s, Whisperings: The Secret History of the Spirit World, I wanted to mention the research conducted by Dr. A.R. G. Owen a few years after Bacheldor’s work. A Canadian research group led by Owen wondered if they could create a ghost.
Working a lot like fictional writers, the group created “Philip” and gave him a whole history. Philip had been a Cavalier officer during the English Civil War and had resided at Diddington Hall (a real place). The story of his life was a fabrication and went like this. Although Philip was married, he had an affair with a gypsy girl which had enraged his wife. The wife managed to have the girl denounced as a witch and burned. So distraught was Philip that he threw himself off the battlements of the hall committing suicide. Poor Philip!
The group held séances for a year trying to contact the Cavalier with no luck. I think it’s pretty amazing they’d keep at it that long with no result. One of the group eventually read Bacheldor’s work and wondered if a lighthearted atmosphere might make a difference. Giving it the old college try, they sang and told jokes, and oddly enough, after a few more séances, things started to happen. They heard their first rap and the table slid across the floor. Success at last! Encouraged, someone asked if Philip was doing it and was answered back with a loud rap. Having contacted the entity, the group used the one knock for yes and two for no method, to go on to communicate with Philip. Phillip affirmed the basic facts of his fictional life story and went on to reveal additional details the group had not created. The séances also produced various physical phenomena. The most spectacular was recorded for a television program. A table climbed a set of steps joining the panelists being interviewed.
I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of the Philip research. As a fiction author, I’m already concocting plots about how the other side conspires to have a good laugh at Owen and the other sitters.
Interview with Kimberly Harding, PhD- artist, author, and teacher
As the Moon
pulls the Wave,
pulls the Soul.
Welcome, Kim. Please tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I am currently a college professor at a small school in central Colorado. I teach in the science discipline- primarily anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and such. I am not one who always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but when I taught my first college lab, I was hooked. It was only after completing my PhD education and securing my first job that I “let out” my artistic side. I remember a New Year’s Eve in which I stayed home to paint and I realized how much everything had changed for me. I do not know what precipitated my sudden interest in art at that time, but it has been with me ever since.
Currently, you are combining teaching science and creating artwork. Does one support the other? Could you see yourself doing only one?
I think most of my colleagues would be surprised to learn if I had to choose only one- it would be art. However, science and teaching provide a grounding force in my life, which I believe support my artistic side with a sense of security.
Of course, there are points in which the two interests converge. I have written and spoken about the power of the female body. Many of the details arise from my scientific training. When I speak on this topic, though, I always present my artistic images, and I believe those are what remain with the audience the most.
Likewise, when I did a book comprised of artistic images and poems of the heart, many of the ideas I played around with were based on my understanding of the heart from a physical perspective.
It is those who have been
hurt the most,
that understand the best.
And it will be those,
with the Soul’s awareness ground into bone,
that heal this world.
I read that you started creating art when you were thirty. What led you to begin expressing yourself in this way?
I truly do not know that answer. I have never taken an art class in my life and throughout my earlier years I had self-defined to the nth degree that I was a scientist and “very logical”. There is something about touching colors, though ( I work with pastels and move the pigments around with fingers and hands) that speaks to my soul.
How important is creative expression to spiritual growth? Because so much of your work seems to center on the heart and compassion, I wonder how art can aid healing?
I do believe that art can facilitate healing. I recently wrote that “The artist sees before anyone else believes.” When we are in the creative state, our inner artist is able to reveal to us what is has “seen”, usually before we are even willing to be conscious of the experience. My artistic process is very “in the moment”. I used to “receive” images in my mind while falling asleep and I would feel compelled to create them the next day. It was almost a compulsion. Now, I begin with blank page and make a few random lines. I have to sit with the image and see what it wants to become slowly. In the process, there is such an inherent sense of my having to be honest with what is arising. When I try to manipulate, control, and project, the image veers off into something less than profound.
Were you a creative, artistic kid? Did you like art classes or did you gravitate to science very early?
I was not a creative child in any form. My parents are not very well-educated. I saw education as a “way out” and liked the security (and money- sciences tend to be very well-funded) that science education seemed to provide. Early in my life, I would not have risked becoming something as “crazy” and “unstable” as an artist.
stark relief against the
background of any circumstances.
What themes has your art allowed you to explore? How do you see your work developing? What impact would you like your paintings and poetry to have on the world?
That is the gift of art, isn’t it- it gives us the ability to explore. I have explored the power of a woman’s body, as well as the power and strength related to male-ness. I spent one summer in what I refer to as my “phallic phase” as images of penises abounded. I have also done entire series on hearts, birds, symbolic shapes, symbols of union and more.
I am constantly surprised how my work develops. I have to say, and I wonder if this is true for other artists- that I will sometimes want to define myself with limitations, -i.e., I want to be the “heart artist” or whatever idea I am currently playing with at that time. That type of self-definition does not seem to be part of my artistic pathway.
As for the impact of my art and poetry, I want it to be “gentle”. That may be a strange thing to say, but I feel so much in life, including spirituality, is layered and projected upon us. I want my art to simply be a gentle opening for others to realize their own understanding.
Thanks for sharing your work with us!
Kim has two books available which combine her paintings and poetry.
The Heart Within You-
The Spirit Within You-
Watch Kim’s fascinating lecture on Female Embodiment- A Woman’s Place (22 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcKXaq1l1kk
For more information on Kim and her work, please visit her at the following site:
TreeHouse Arts is running a contest through July 10th (Th.). Enter with a poem about snow. Winner’s poem will be published on their site. Good luck!