Saturday, October 31, 2020
Friday, October 30, 2020
Sitting quietly each day, focused intently upon that which we wish to manifest in our lives, is perhaps the quickest way to build the life we dream of. It may seem esoteric to create one's own reality, but there is no magic to it. Quantum physics tells us that is how the universe works, and scientific research affirms that we all have this power. Contemporary findings in the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity outline our neurological capacity to change our beliefs, behaviors, and habits directly through applied intent.
“Neuroplasticity simply refers to the fact that the brain is the organ that is built to change in response to experience.” This explanation comes from psychology and psychiatry professor Richard Davidson, a pioneering figurehead in this field:
“We’re learning we can shape our brains in more adaptive and beneficial ways by cultivating healthy habits of mind… When given a challenging situation your brain hasn’t encountered before, it can reorganize and restructure to respond to that situation. The more often your brain is exposed to that new challenge – like learning a musical instrument, for instance – the more it reorganises and makes that path more established… Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly – most of the time unwittingly…. We’re raising the possibility to intentionally training our brains to improve well-being.”
We each have the capacity to re-wire ourselves at any time by turning our attention to our mind and the stories of fear and failure we tell ourselves... by consciously setting our intent to focus on a simple, positive, present tense statement. By creating such a practice centering on this intention or ‘resolve’, the aim is to choose and then change whatever our driving desire is.
It is not quite enough, however, to repeatedly speak a simple phrase of intent, as with a mantra, such as 'I am confident', 'I am successful', or 'I am happy and in tune with the universe'. An effective intention needs to be truly felt in order to really believe it and manifest it. A good time to focus on intent would be during meditation when one can take the time apart from the world to really feel the change already existing within us.
There is a distinct correlation between the basis of neuroplasticity as a means to train our brain and the practice of focused intent, resting on the idea that we can actively choose and change our motivating drive and desires. But there is another significant element on which they both agree: the mind-body connection.
Neuroplastic research gives evidence of this psycho-physical relationship. In one of Davidson’s aptly titled talks - ‘Transform your mind, change your brain: Neuroplasticity and personal transformation’ - he uses the phrase ‘the embodied mind’ to encapsulate the idea that our minds and brains are not simply supported by a disembodied architecture, but rather there is bi-directional communication between the brain and the body which provides a mechanism for our minds to influence our bodies in ways that may be consequential for health.
It is essential that we actually believe what we intend in the present-tense ‘I am…’ statement, so much so that we feel it in the body. You must physically feel what it is like in that moment to have that asset or characteristic in your life. This phenomenon is perhaps the most integral, if not the most challenging part of the practice. However, as Davidson states, it is bidirectional – therefore if the mind is having trouble believing, then begin with the body.
These words are synonymous with social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s viral 2012 TED Talk - ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’. This is perhaps one of the best known explanations of how to tap into the embodied mind. Cuddy’s research was motivated by the proposition that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful. We know that our minds change our bodies, but it is also true that our bodies change our minds.
Essentially, if you play the part, particularly through body language, of a ‘powerful’ or successful person, it is possible to actually influence the body’s physiological processes to line up with this. It appears that another natural consequence of this will be the creation of a new thought pattern or neuroplastic change. The beautiful thing about Cuddy’s research is its emphasis on the body first, so even if you cannot find that state of belief in your mind you can give it a helping hand by playing the part in your body and behavior.
Practicing intent is far less mysterious than it may seem; when placed into a scientific context it is essentially a form of neuroplastic training. The aim is to integrate the wishes of the mind into the neurological processes of the brain, which translates to the functioning and feelings in our body and ultimately is seen in the actions and appearances of us as individuals! The transformation can happen from the top (brain/mind) down, or from the bottom (body/behavior) up. So if stating your desire is not working, try flipping it on its head and let the body guide the mind. It is as much a state of the body, as it is a state of mind. If you have to, simply fake it until you become it.
Adapted from an article by Miranda Weindling on June 13th, 2017, in upliftconnect.com
Thursday, October 29, 2020
There are a lot of unhappy people in the world. Many are angry and want to change the ways of the world to find what they believe they are missing. But it is not the world that is causing their unhappiness. Unhappy people are generally asking the wrong question, and then looking in the wrong place for the answer. Someone or something else is not the missing element that turns the world upside down. Happiness must begin within.
Discontent doesn't disappear on its own, and battling the world will not bring about contentment. Fate deals the cards, but it is we who must learn to play them. If you believe you have been dealt poor cards, you can still choose to play them well and win at the game of life.
There is a perfect loving intelligence innately present within each one of us. There is a level of mind that we know as the sub-consciousness that hides a level of unwitting conditioning by parents, school, peers, church, and society, a set of mental imprints that collectively make up our personality through which we live our life. Negative thought patterns remain active in deeper consciousness until we deliberately interrupt the cycle, the loop-feed to the conscious mind.
The sub-consciousness is not a separate mind but rather a submerged aspect of our full mind - the storage chip which contains every nuance of learned behavior since birth. Housing all of our fears, phobias and addictions, this sub-conscious content exists in a perfect state and depends on mental tension, physical stress, fear, and low self-esteem for its survival.
Mental stress, physical tension, and residual fear are prerequisite dynamics for maintaining the involuntary influencing of the conscious mind without our conscious consent. Unwittingly, through non-awareness, we block our own inner bliss, smother the very source of the happiness we each innately crave. Studies suggest we use only a fraction of our mental potential. As we undergo a shift to spiritual awareness, intuition reveals that a direct blissful experience results from a rebalancing of the deficit between being spiritually asleep and spiritually awake.
Practicing meditation can change one's life completely and help restore happiness. The practice awakens deeper regions of untapped consciousness resulting in intangible levels of bliss, harmony, and compassion, opening a level of awareness where happiness can be found in every situation, particularly in nature, and a realization that happiness is the innate status of each soul awaiting creative exploration and development. Furthermore, with continued practice, the benefits are cumulative, from a spiritual well-being perspective; the practice, as it matures, becomes even more noticeably rewarding and uplifting.
When we meditate and simultaneously tune into the universal life-force within, focusing fully on the now moment, the entire world takes on a renewed perspective. Suddenly things that may have seemed mundane or a chore take on new meaning. Instead of ‘thinking about’ some activity, we remain fully focused ‘on’ that activity. Thus, a tedious chore like washing the dishes can become an enjoyable means of deepening one’s spiritual awareness.
Connecting with the universal life-force can be one's greatest reward in life. Happiness is always there. We need only find it within. Remember, the sun always shines; it simply requires instruction on clearing the clouds to experience its direct warmth within.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Intelligence is more than just being good at taking an IQ test; it is the result of different skills and aptitudes mixing and interacting together. While intelligence can be measured in nie ways – linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, naturalistic, musical, existential, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal, there are really only two types. Fluid intelligence is the ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns, solve problems, and discern relationships. This type of intelligence depends mainly on one’s native ability and is not something that can be obtained through education or exposure to various environmental factors. Crystallized intelligence is the opposite of fluid intelligence. It refers to the knowledge and skills that are obtained through education, learning, and experience; because of this, crystallized intelligence can increase throughout a lifetime.
When we encounter an entirely new problem that cannot be solved with our existing knowledge, we must rely on fluid intelligence to solve it. Crystallized intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. As we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding, crystallized intelligence becomes stronger. These are two very separate and distinct types of intellectual prowess, but they work together. Fluid intelligence is the fuel we need to process the information we acquire from our crystallized and learned experiences. On the other hand, crystallized intelligence is the oil that keeps our fluid intelligence running in good condition.
Since fluid and crystallized intelligence are both important aspects of optimal learning, I have always been interested in learning ways to harness and improve my own intelligence. I've found three things to be helpful in keeping a fine edge on my own mental life so as not to slip by the wayside over time. First and foremost, in keeping with the “use it or lose it” adage, I work hard at staying proactively interested in the world around me, always open to new experiences and new opportunities that come my way.
It’s all about this thing called neural plasticity. Plasticity refers to the number of connections our neurons make between each other, how they are affected, and how long-lasting they are. Our intelligence is affected by how much information our neurons take in and pass on to each other. Regularly exposing oneself to new experiences and learning opportunities literally primes one's brain for learning.
I literally look for things that stimulate my mind – not necessarily something deep or academic - just something to keep my brain moving. Writing in this daily blog is my trail of breadcrumbs of where I have mentally been lately. I can't emphasize enough how having many mental and physical pursuits to chase in life prevents the mind from being idle and keeps us young at heart. Let's face it, when it comes to not only mental acuity, but also one's physical health and longevity, idleness is our archenemy.
The other two things I do to keep myself as mentally and physically healthy as I can for as long as I can are that I discipline myself to do regular aerobic exercise, mostly in the form of running and hiking, and I get plenty of sleep. We all know exercise promotes a healthy body, but it is just as vital for maintaining a healthy mind. It raises IQ, protects the brain from disease by regularly flooding it with oxygen, improves memory and attention capacity, and even slows aging.
As far as getting enough sleep, it has indisputably been shown that sleep deprivation affects both cognitive and physical performance. When I don't get enough sleep I can tell – my mood is a clear indicator.
It is easy to get lazy about maintaining health, both physically and mentally. The widespread incidence of Alzheimer's disease is the result of lifestyle choices of diet and mental and physical activity and not due to some foreign agent of infection. By taking responsibility for our own health as we age, most of us can avoid the impact of degenerative illness in our later years. A quality lifestyle has a price. I am willing to pay it.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Imagine an amazing high-tech security system combined with a military-grade arsenal of weapons, all set up inside your body to do surveillance and identify invasive agents, then neutralize, poison, and destroy them before they can harm you. And imagine this system has a memory so vast that it is able to store not only information on how to fight never-before-seen diseases and infections, but one that never forgets diseases you've had all the way back to when you were a child. Science calls this your Immune System.
Our amazing body has a defensive system built in to protect us from most outside biological attacks, from our digestive system to our organs to our lymphatic system, and even right down at the cellular level. Without diving into the specifics of T-cells, B-cells, Interferon, Macrophages, Immunoglobulins, Neutrophils, Basophils, Eosinphils, and Mast Cells, I would like to take a look at two appendages – the tonsils and the appendix - that play an essential role in the immune system – something that many of us never knew.
From the beginning to the end of the digestive tract, our amazing bodies have immune surveillance checkpoints, beginning in our mouth and extending all the way to our large intestine. These checkpoints are there to check the content of the air we breathe and the food that enters our bodies. If anything potentially harmful is detected – bacteria, viruses, parasites, pathogenic microorganisms – an immune alarm is sounded, directing immune cells and immune chemicals to deal with the emergency immediately.
The three main security checkpoints are the tonsils in the throat, Peyer's Patches in the small intestine, and the appendix in the large intestine. When an intrusion is detected, these essential organs spring into action, triggering a complex and lethal immune response. Who knew?
Long mistaken by medical doctors as a useless organ, and too often surgically removed, the tonsils are now recognized as an essential part of our immune response. Loaded with immune T-cells, B-cells, and potent immune chemicals, their location positions them as the first line of defense against any invader you might inhale or ingest. It has been discovered that the tonsils can synthesize the antibody for Poliomyelitis, and they may be the only place in the body that can do this. Doctors that were quick to remove the tonsils of children left them essentially defenseless against the paralyzing polio virus. With the knowledge we have today about the importance of the tonsils in maintaining immunity, it makes tonsillectomies look barbaric and insane in hindsight.
Then located in the small intestine, there are lymph nodes called Peyer's Patches that are saturated with immune T-cells and B-cells, which not only directly kill harmful disease-causing germs in the digestive tract, but also mediate an entire immune response whenever germs are detected after food leaves the stomach.
Then there is the appendix, long thought by the medical community to be another useless organ, like the tonsils. Today we recognize the appendix to be an immune aggregator. Positioned perfectly at the beginning of the large intestine, it can detect disease-causing microorganisms as they enter the bowel, neutralizing them, and if necessary, initiating an immune response signalling the spleen and other organs to release more immune cells as needed.
Needless to say, modern surgeons do everything they can these days to avoid removing these essential organs. If you always suspected that God put your tonsils and appendix there for a reason, you were right!
Adapted from the work of Dr. Richard Schulze
Monday, October 26, 2020
Many of the greatest musicians will tell you that their greatest music and lyrics were generally written or tape recorded in a very short amount of time. It can be thought of as a kind of downloading during a heightened state of awareness. Conditions are often ripe when one quiets the mind, such as during meditation, but just as inducive when one finds that sweet spot of creativity and enters “the zone”, extremely focused on the immediacy of whatever we are doing. Everything just magically falls into place and a sort of genius takes over and just flows through us.
While it sounds fantastical, it is more than likely something that all of us have access to if we tune in to our inner muse. Literally thousands of creative artists and scientists have shared their stories of this lofty experience over the centuries. Perhaps the most creative innovator of modern times, Nikola Tesla, said that “the gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power.”
I love what Dan Fogelberg said about the origin of his remarkable love song Longer - “this song was drifting around the universe, saw me, and decided I'd give it a good home.” We need only quiet the mind, be humble, and open wide to the love and generosity of the universe. Trust your inner muse to lead you toward a new creative spark. Again, from Tesla: “My brain is only a receiver. In the Universe is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”
Sunday, October 25, 2020
There are over a million more signals being sent every second from our hearts throughout our bodies than originate from the brain. From an evolutionary standpoint, the brain is secondary to the heart. Yet we have been purposefully taught to disregard our hearts – our gut feelings – in favor of reason and logic – to live our lives, in essence, through a paradigm of facts, figures, and logic, instead of lore, legends, and magic. We were born as infinite beings of magic, yet we have been reduced to mere specimens – purposefully separated from our parents at a young age so that we can learn to grow up to be “smart” and obedient citizens. Our birthright of joy and freedom and trust have been replaced with fear and rules and doubt.
Look at any newborn. We are born into this world with a remarkable joy and passion inside us to feel alive at every moment and experience life freely and openly. Fear can only come about from the beliefs that children absorb through society as they grow up in a system of conformity. Parents, daycare, the extended family, school, and media and government influences impose their wills and agendas upon our beautiful, pure, innocent, and brilliant children. The whole of society perpetrates and perpetuates an agenda designed to result in conformity to norms, stunting the imagination and emotional and psychological growth of most all of us from an early age.
We do not require outside help to evolve and grow. We are born with all the tools we need. We are our own Gods, bestowed with God-like powers over ourselves, bounded only by our own imagination. The basis of everything we are taught in school is a lie. This is the conundrum that explains why we have all become so convinced of the necessity to give up our independence to the concept of the “greater good”, which is nothing more than a euphemism for society – one that allows the few to rule and regulate and the many to struggle in limitation in an otherwise boundless world of abundance.
We are all influenced by society to interpret our world of experience in a certain way... riddled with fear and filled with lies and “facts”. This monster, we know as the status quo, whose enemies are the heart and any sort of change. It is hard to see the massive conspiracy being perpetuated by the longstanding instituions that create the fabric of society, yet they secretly and uniformly force us all into thinking and believing that this is all normal, that it is just the way things are. Never mind questioning how things could be if no one interfered with our children.
We are all asleep to one degree or another. Blind to what we have lost because we have paid too much attention to the pied piper for too long. We have been brainwashed and corrupted by society since birth. We have become subdued into a comatose state of blind obedience to a system that is doing a very thorough job of controlling and regulating our minds to its will. But while we are born without playbooks as to how all this works, we are still born with free will, which they cannot take away from us. And free will always gives us the power to choose what we believe and what we might want at any moment, regardless of what is being peddled to us as the “truth”. The exact moment that we begin to choose non-conformity is the precise moment that we will return home to a full awakening of who we truly are and why we are here.
They may have captured our minds, but our hearts can never be corrupted or fooled. Only our minds can be cleverly tricked with worded lies as we attempt to reason things out instead of just knowing and trusting what we hold to be our own truth. Turn off the noise of the world. Find a space of quiet as often as you can, and listen to the voice of internal wisdom that has always been there to guide and protect you. Question the world, but trust your heart.
Never forget that all life begins and ends in joy. At the beginning and end of our physical life here we are free of the human mind, free of any lies that may enter it during life, free of the burden of social influence. All that is left is God's Truth. The heart is our constant connection to God; it is our God-given instrument to find the Truth in every moment between birth and leaving this plane.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Someone once said that love is a many spendored thing. It can be romantic and passionate, for sure, but true love is also deeply rooted in friendship and partnership. The unconditional love that everyone longs for, but incredibly only a fortunate few seem to experience, is our sole reason as humans for being on this earth.
Think about this: Throughout the natural world, in every moment, unconditional love exists eternally. There are no judgements found in the forest. True love is the absence of judgement. There is no “right” or “wrong'; no “good” or “bad”; only ACCEPTANCE of what is.
So if you are in a relationship which you wish would work better or “give back” more, first try giving to it... without conditions... without judgement... without anything expected or asked for in return. Then see what happens!
If the fires of love seem to have dimmed, remember the resilience of nature. Love is always ready to spring back to life the moment we focus our intentions on it and “BELIEVE” it back into existence.
Friday, October 23, 2020
Because we have been taught that
THINKING is the sign of a free mind,
we have all become prisoners
of our own thoughts.
Whatever we believe is the truth
becomes our reality.
But virtually all of our so-called truths
come from agencies of society
who have an agenda...
an agenda to remain in power
at all costs!
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Most everyone is fascinated by towering mountain peaks, but the thought of climbing them is where the fascination abruptly ends and the fear begins. In our video-adept world, the images of mountain climbing that are too often portrayed are ones of disaster. Climbers are perceived more often than not as struggling for survival in a ferociously steep and unrelentingly dangerous landscape. It seems like a risky way to live and a frightening way to die. Avalanches, bullet-like rocks falling, electrical storms, freezing to death, getting gangrene and losing fingers and toes – why would anyone deliberately place themselves in such a nightmarish situation?
Despite the terrible hardships that may be endured and the awful deaths, it should pique one's curiosity to find out why those who climb go back and do it again and again, taking on ever riskier and more difficult challenges. There must be something very special about mountaineering to make climbers believe the risks are worth it. Perhaps the only way to understand why people climb mountains, however, is to go do it yourself. Climbers do not wrestle with such questions, and non-climbers will never understand a climber's explanation anyway.
Death is always a very real possibility when climbing mountains. It is both horrifying and fascinating in equal measure. This, in and of itself, may be the very essence of mountaineering, however; it is a strange mixture of fear and excitement, unlike the appeal of any other endeavor. I would not call it a sport, for there is no game to win, no competitor to beat, and no medals to bring home. For the most part one might argue that it makes no sense and is absurdly pointless, but that is what makes it so addictive. If death was not ever present, many would not be so drawn to it.
In a paradoxical way, death validates the life-affirming nature of climbing mountains. It is not sport, but it can become a lifestyle. It is a game of risk where what you stand to lose is far greater than whatever you could ever possibly hope to gain. Whenever you finally discover what it is that really makes it worth dying for, you find reason enough to keep doing it. For me, it is a heroic endeavor that has become an essential expression of a lifestyle I have chosen. To die while living heroically is preferable to living an ordinary unchallenged life. So I climb high to touch the place where the mountains kiss the sky. Should death claim me one day, I at least sense I will receive a heroes welcome on the other side. There is no better way to live.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
The bankruptcy of the globalist banking system is underway - a system that requires endless wars and endless bailouts to survive. The Democrat nominee Joe Biden has had a career in which he has been associated with this system, both as a war hawk and as a front man for Wall Street interests. On the other side, Donald Trump is committed to breaking with this bankrupt system, ending all wars and stopping the bailouts. It has been the fundamental issue of his presidency since the beginning. There are many interests aligned with the status quo that have a vested interest in continuing things the way they are, which has been the driving force behind the agenda to remove Trump from office one way or the other. If one really wants to know what this election is about, just follow the money. Who benefits most by maintaining the status quo? That would be Wall Street, the banking industry, and politicians. And at whose expense? That would be the electorate that works for a living. That is all one needs to know to make a choice.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
We are a nation of capitulators who have bought into the programmed idea that compromise is an enduring quality of an enlightened electorate. All we have bought into is the propaganda that has been spoon fed to us by the generations that have come before through controlling instruments of the state and church. How does a collective of sovereign individuals so readily come to yield to the notion that the status quo of institutionalized pillars of nation-states with borders is more important than the well-being of the individual? We, as human beings, exist. It is the nation-states with their borders and governance that are arbitrary. There is no reason we need to compromise our God-granted rights as human beings.
Obama's quote above is in reference to himself and his ilk of politicians – liars all. For the first time in the modern era we have someone in the Oval Office who is not a politician – neither from the left nor the right, not a liberal, nor a conservative – not beholden to any interest other than that of the well-being of the electorate. Even when faced with the truth, so many people hold tight to their fear and refuse to awaken, preferring to capitulate to the lies, corruption, and criminal behavior of the status quo than to finally stand up against the ultimate source of their unhappiness.
The biggest criminals, the ones who pull the strings of the politicians, the ones who benefit at the expense of the masses, are the financial goliaths of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries – the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, among others – and their hierarchy of minions like the Nazi Prescott Bush, father of George HW, and grandfather of George W. This very small group of powerful people came to control every nation on the Earth by illegally seizing the rights to unilaterally own and distribute the chosen systems of energy (oil) around the globe. They lied, stole, cheated, conspired and committed acts of treason and murder to consolidate their nefarious power and become the wealthiest families in the history of the world.
They then used their enormous wealth and power to manipulate every single nation on the planet to accept their control over all monetary systems under the guise of their Federal Reserve Banks. They accomplished this takeover on December 23, 1913, in front of only five percent of the members of the House of Representatives, when the Federal Reserve Act was passed into law in the US, paving the way for the Rothschild dynasty which controls all political and social decision-making on the planet to this day.
This is accomplished with the issuance of every single new bill of currency – Federal Reserve Notes (what we think of as dollars) – through an illegal scheme of debt. The Federal Reserve Banks print the monetary supply of currency for the entire world – but always at a cost. It's called “interest”. Once any single legal tender dollar is printed into existence (out of thin air) every nation and their citizens become owned because every dollar was issued with an interest charge. THE ONLY WAY TO PAY BACK EVEN ONE SINGLE BORROWED DOLLAR IS TO BORROW A SECOND DOLLAR TO PAY THE INTEREST. This has purposefully led to our artificially manipulated system of inflation, devaluing the buying power of currency by having to borrow more and more and more money to pay off the original debt on all legal tender.
The end game is monopoly and control of great wealth, of course. Insolvency is not an unfortunate outcome under this scheme; it is the goal of modern banking. Nearly every country across the globe is bankrupt today... by design. Nation-states are only allowed to continue to play the game by borrowing even more money – the definition of insanity.
Those in control will never voluntarily give up their power and influence. Any change will have to be forced upon the status quo. Enter Donald Trump – a successful product of the very system he seeks to undo - an outsider in alliance with individuals and forces that seek to remove those that control the rest of us and restore power to the people, to the collective of individuals who were born with a God-granted right of freedom from the control of others. My instincts tell me that enough people in the electorate have awoken to carry his momentum forward for another term. It is nonetheless disheartening to see so many people refusing to awaken to their own reality. They are like people in a bad marriage that fear the unknown of what might happen if they leave the relationship, believing that living with something that doesn't work may be better than an unknown outcome that may be worse. The realization we must all come to before we find happiness is that any form of freedom is better than any form of slavery. Those who vote for hope will always find more fulfillment and happiness than those who vote for fear.
Monday, October 19, 2020
not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
By Mary Elizabeth Frye , written in 1932
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Objectivism's main tenets are that reality exists independently of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness, that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans' metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form - a work of art - that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.
Rand's philosophy begins with the idea that reality is objective. The world around us is what it is – not what we would like it to be – and wishing otherwise won't make it so. Reality is an objective absolute; the only way we can perceive it is through the reason of the mind. Reason is all we have, but it is all we need for understanding the world around us. If reason is an absolute, there can therefore be no contradictions.
She also believed that we all need a morality based upon rationality, not faith, or arbitrary edict, or emotion - a morality that can be demonstrated by logic; and that our highest moral purpose must be the pursuit of our own selfish happiness through reason. Reason must be humanity's only guide to action.
The problem has always been that selfishness can be misinterpreted. It does not mean exploiting others for one's own gain. It means realizing one's highest potential by pursuing rational ends and living in harmony with others by respecting their right to pursue their own life and happiness without individual or institutional interference.
Rand's defense of individual liberty integrates elements from her entire philosophy. Since reason is the means of human knowledge, it is therefore each person's most fundamental means of survival and is necessary to the achievement of values. The use or threat of force neutralizes the practical effect of an individual's reason, whether the force originates from the state or from a criminal. According to Rand, "man's mind will not function at the point of a gun". Therefore, the only type of organized human behavior consistent with the operation of reason is that of voluntary cooperation.
Persuasion is the method of reason. By its nature, the overtly irrational cannot rely on the use of persuasion and must ultimately resort to force to prevail. Thus, Rand argued that reason and freedom are correlates, just as she argued that mysticism and force are corollaries. Based on this understanding of the role of reason, Objectivists claim that the initiation of physical force against the will of another is immoral, as are indirect initiations of force through threats, fraud, or breach of contract. The use of defensive or retaliatory force, on the other hand, is appropriate.
Objectivism claims that because the opportunity to use reason without the initiation of force is necessary to achieve moral values, each individual has an inalienable moral right to act as his own judgment directs and to keep the product of his effort. In content, as the founding fathers recognized, there is one fundamental right, which has several major derivatives. The fundamental right is the right to life. Its major derivatives are the right to liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. These rights are specifically understood to be rights to action, not to specific results or objects, and the obligations created by rights are negative in nature: each individual must refrain from violating the rights of others. Objectivists reject alternative notions of rights, such as positive rights, collective rights, or animal rights.
Objectivism claims that the only social system which fully recognizes individual rights is capitalism, specifically what Rand described as "full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism". Objectivism regards capitalism as the social system which is most beneficial to the poor, but does not consider this its primary justification. Rather, it is the only moral social system. Objectivism maintains that only societies seeking to establish freedom have a right to self-determination.
Objectivism describes government as "the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control - i.e., under objectively defined laws"; thus, government is both legitimate and critically important in order to protect individual rights. Rand opposed anarchism because she considered that putting police and courts on the market is an inherent miscarriage of justice. Objectivism claims that the proper functions of a government are "the police, to protect men from criminals, and the armed services, to protect men from foreign invaders; the law courts, to settle disputes among men according to objective laws"; the executive, and legislatures. Furthermore, in protecting individual rights, the government is acting as an agent of its citizens and "has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens" and it must act in an impartial manner according to specific, objectively defined laws.
Rand argued that limited intellectual property monopolies being granted to certain inventors and artists on a first-to-file basis are moral because she considered all property as fundamentally intellectual. Furthermore, the value of a commercial product derives in part from the necessary work of its inventors. However, Rand considered limits on patents and copyrights as important and said that if they were granted in perpetuity, it would necessarily result in de facto collectivism.
Rand opposed racism and any legal application of racism. She considered affirmative action to be an example of legal racism. Rand advocated the right to legal abortion and believed capital punishment is morally justified as retribution against a murderer, but dangerous due to the risk of mistakenly executing innocent people and facilitating state murder. She therefore said she opposed capital punishment "on epistemological, not moral, grounds".
She opposed involuntary military conscription. She opposed any form of censorship, including legal restrictions on pornography, opinion or worship, famously quipping; "In the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with a given right's least attractive practitioners".
Objectivists have also opposed a number of government activities commonly endorsed by both liberals and conservatives, including antitrust laws, the minimum wage, public education, and existing child labor laws. Objectivists have argued against faith-based initiatives, displaying religious symbols in government facilities, and the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. Rand opposed involuntary taxation and believed government could be financed voluntarily, although she thought this could only happen after other reforms of government were implemented.
The ultimate result of the application of Rand's philosophy is a life of reason, purpose, and self-esteem. Liberal academic philosophers, as well as religionists and theologians, have mostly ignored or rejected Rand's philosophy in large part because it attacks the entrenched belief that an elite few in the government or in the church can better manage the affairs of individuals in society than can the individuals themselves. Nonetheless, Objectivism continues to be a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives because of its emphasis upon freedom and reliance upon reason first and foremost, just as Atlas Shrugged continues to be the most read book in print aside from the Bible.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
still recall the place
When I first felt your gypsy wind
Playing on my face
That summer's long since gone
But gypsy winds have ways of staying on.
Voices from our past
Still insist on arguing
That love will never last
And though our hearts may turn
It's only when you listen that you learn.
And I wonder at the ways
The strands of love meander
Through our close and distant days
The blood of passion plays
Burns our thirsty souls
And chases reason far away...
And still your gypsy wind
Will soothe my soul and call me back again.
Growing wise with age
We come to see the printing
Through the pictures on the page
Though something's always lost
The gain is always tempered by the cost.
And I wonder at the ways
The strands of love meander
Through our close and distant days
The blood of passion plays
Burns our thirsty souls
And chases reason far away...
And still your gypsy wind
Will soothe my soul and call me back again.
I have been picking out the guitar chords and melody of Dan Fogelberg's third track on his Phoenix album, released in 1979. On the surface, I suppose a lot of listeners might think that Gypsy Wind is a straightforward ballad about someone falling in love. But it isn't. It is much more. It is a song that has a message for people in the times we live in right now – those who are awakening, many for the first time in their lives, to the realization that no one is a victim in this life; awakening to an understanding that we have all been played, numbed down and dumbed down by forces that wish us to remain under their control in a semi-conscious state.
Each of us is the protagonist in our own life drama. With this awakening, as we forge ahead to new ways of looking at things, we still are looking back over our shoulder to a time when we lived at the whim of someone else, wondering if the siren call that kept us entrained in previous times will call us back again. For all of us, the music of this past time and relationship still plays loudly in our minds, enticing us to return to being victims. The “voices from the past still insist on arguing that love will never last”. While the danger of repeating our mistakes is always possible, the song is about staying focused and listening to our own personal truth – truly grasping who we are and what we really want - “it's only when you listen that you learn”.
Even if our hearts “turn” back toward that “old familiar tune” in our memories, we can still resist what we don't want by being consciously aware of what we do want. When our minds are open, we can learn; when they close, we stagnate and die.
The chorus is a clever passage about the never-ending powers of temptation. When we are unhappy, temptation (in the form of fear) reigns supreme because our minds are searching for some source of happiness. We look to the past to find something to believe in. The protagonist in our play “wondered at the ways the strands of love meandered through his close and distant days”.
All of us have been taught and reinforced since our earliest days that transient things like possessions, money, and sex are what we need to pursue to find happiness. Thus “the blood of passion plays burns our thirsty souls and chases reason far away... far away”. But chasing these transient things has only left us disconnected and ultimately unhappy.
Before our awakening, we were slaves to the opinions, beliefs, and desires of everyone else out there, but indulging in these “passion plays” has left our thirst unquenched, diverting us all from real joy.
Many of us have awoken to the bigger picture, thus the line “we come to see the printing through the pictures on the page”. We have become wiser, able to see the details of what is really happening through a sounder mind.
The final two lines of the song reveal what is most true for all of us in this life. Every time we make a choice, whether out of love or fear, “something's always lost”. By choosing one thing in any given moment, all other possibilities are invariably lost. Anything that we gain by our decision must be “tempered by the cost”. This is the inescapable dilemma of divine duality.
As the awakened protagonist in our own play, we have become wise, wary of our memories of when we unconsciously yielded to subjugation. With our recent awareness, we have decided we don't want that anymore, so have rejected these memories... but by doing so, we have lost the chance to once again experience the “gypsy wind” of our past.
In the end, there really is no right or wrong – just the choosing of one way of reality or another - either way, sacrificing possibilities not chosen. It is a very deep and complex, yet enlightened lyric that involves the foundation of our own reality in this and perhaps all times – all woven neatly in the guise of a melodic love ballad. It is just brilliant songwriting, and probably something Fogelberg rarely received credit for.
Friday, October 16, 2020
From the perspective of general relativity, black holes arise if the density of matter becomes too large and gravity collapses the material all the way toward its central point. When this happens, gravity is so strong in this region that nothing—not even light—can escape. The inside of the black hole, therefore, cannot be seen from the outside, even in principle, and the boundary, called the event horizon, acts as a one-way membrane: nothing can go from the interior to the exterior, but there is no problem in falling through it from the exterior to the interior.
But when we consider the effect of quantum mechanics, the theory governing elementary particles, we get another picture. In 1974, Stephen Hawking presented a calculation – hκ/2πk≈10^−6(M⊙/M)∘K - that made him famous. He discovered that, if we include quantum mechanical effects, a black hole in fact radiates, although very slowly. As a result, it gradually loses its mass and eventually evaporates. This conclusion has been checked by multiple methods now, and its basic validity is beyond doubt. The odd thing, however, is that in Hawking’s calculation, the radiation emitted from a black hole does not depend on how the object was created. This means that two black holes created from different initial states can end up with identical final radiation.
Is this a problem? Yes, it is. Modern physics is built on the assumption that if we have perfect knowledge about a system, then we can predict its future and infer its past by solving the equation of motion. Hawking’s result would mean that this basic tenet is incorrect. Then in 1997, a new way was discovered to view the situation, seeming to prove that no information was lost at all. Not quite case closed, however. One could still argue that if the information is preserved in the Hawking emission process, then it is inconsistent with the “smoothness” of the horizon—the notion that an object can pass through the event horizon without being affected. Given that the option of information loss is out of the question, that the black hole horizon is in fact not a one-way membrane but something like an unbreakable wall, it was called a firewall.
This confused theorists tremendously. As much as they dislike information loss, they abhor firewalls too. Among other things, the firewall idea implies that Einstein’s general relativity is completely wrong, at least at the horizon of a black hole. In fact, this is utterly counter-intuitive. For a large black hole, gravity at the horizon is actually very weak because it lies far away from the central point, where all the matter is located. A region near the horizon thus looks pretty much like empty space, and yet the firewall argument says that space must abruptly “end” at the location of the horizon.
There may be multiple layers of descriptions of a black hole, postulates Yasunori Nomura, and the preservation of information and the smoothness of the horizon refer to theories at different layers. At one level, we can describe a black hole as viewed from a distance: the black hole is formed by collapse of matter, which eventually evaporates leaving the quanta of Hawking radiation in space. From this perspective, there is no information loss in the process. That is because, in this picture, an object falling toward the black hole never enters the horizon, not because of a firewall but because of time delay between the clock of the falling object and that of a distant observer. The object seems to be slowly “absorbed” into the horizon, and its information is later sent back to space in the form of subtle correlations between particles of Hawking radiation.
On the other hand, the picture of the black hole interior emerges when looking at the system from the perspective of someone falling into it. Here we must “ignore” the fine details of the system that an infalling observer could not see because he or she has only finite time until they hit the singular point at the center of the black hole. This limits the amount of information they can access, even in principle. The world the infalling observer perceives, therefore, is the “coarse-grained” one. And in this picture, information need not be preserved because we already threw away some information even to arrive at this perspective. This is the way the existence of interior spacetime can be compatible with the preservation of information: they are the properties of the descriptions of nature at different levels.
To understand this concept better, the following analogy might help. Imagine water in a tank and consider a theory describing waves on the surface. At a fundamental level, water consists of a bunch of water molecules, which move, vibrate and collide with each other. With perfect knowledge of their properties, we can describe them deterministically without information loss. This description would be complete, and there would be no need to even introduce the concept of waves. On the other hand, we could focus on the waves by overlooking molecular level details and describing the water as a liquid. The atomic-level information, however, is not preserved in this description. For example, a wave can simply “disappear,” although the truth is that the coherent motion of water molecules that created the wave was transformed into a more random motion of each molecule without anything disappearing.
This framework tells us that the picture of spacetime offered by general relativity is not as fundamental as we might have thought—it is merely a picture that emerges at a higher level in the hierarchical descriptions of nature, at least concerning the interior of a black hole. Similar ideas have been discussed in varying forms, but the new framework allows us to explicitly identify the relevant microscopic degrees of freedom—in other words, nature's fundamental building blocks—participating in the emergence of spacetime, which surprisingly involves elements that we normally think to be located far away from the region of interest. This new way of thinking about the paradox can also be applied to allow us to identify which features of a realistic black hole are or are not captured by such analyses.
Beginning with the era of Descartes and Galileo, revolutions in physics have often been associated with new understandings of the concept of spacetime, and it seems that we are now in the middle of another such revolution. We may soon witness the emergence of a new understanding of nature at a qualitatively different and deeper level.
Adapted from an article by Yasunori Nomura in scienceandnonduality.com
Thursday, October 15, 2020
until you see
Said the Owl
Listen until you hear
Said the Deer
Touch until you feel
Said the Mole
Lie upon my belly
Until you know my heartbeat
Said the Earth
is undergoing a revival today. The emergence of the New Spirituality
in the West has focussed educated attention on the healing and
nature-working abilities which are inherent in all of us.
Leslie Gray, executive director and founder of the Woodfish
Institute, is a Native American shaman and a university lecturer in
anthropology and research methodology. Based in San Francisco, she
has studied with medicine people and elders from various tribal
She advocates a new vision of health care: the integration of ancient healing and modern medicine. And she consults with individuals and organizations on the practice of ecopsychology.
Leslie Gray is a bridge person. She links two cultures, ancient and modern. And like all shamans, she links two dimensions. She travels in full waking consciousness from the physical world to the spiritual world and back. Her work in shamanic healing requires this.
Controlled transdimensional traveling enables the shaman to access powerful spirit-healing technologies and powerful spirit-healing people. Some of these may be highly evolved animal-people of a kind known as power animals in traditional cultures.
All human beings have the innate ability to develop safe, conscious, transdimensional traveling abilities. And all human beings have the innate ability to become spiritual healers. Children, in particular, find these shamanic processes natural and easy.
The shamanic journey involves entering an altered or non-ordinary state of consciousness, usually with the help of sonic driving: a repetitive, monotonous drumming, rattling or changing of body postures. These create what Gray calls "trance-portation."
The work of shamans is the business of traveling either to the upper world to bring back down power, information or healing, or to the lower world to bring back up personal empowerment for living here in the middle, physical world.
Most shamans view the universe as composed of these three realms. The upper world tends to be the land of the ancestors, the middle world that of ordinary consciousness, and the lower world the place of power animals.
The shamanic journey begins with the traveler finding an opening to another realm of consciousness. While in some cultures people literally dig a hole in the floor to provide this entrance, in others they regard the opening as a phenomenon within the shaman's consciousness.
The nature of this opening is highly individual. Leslie Gray invites people to think of an opening into the earth from ordinary reality, to enter that opening, go down a tunnel and come out the other side; and from there, to explore the lower world. As people become more proficient at doing this, they begin to encounter allies in that lower world. And they use information gained from communing with these allies to help themselves or others back up here in the physical, middle world.
Traveling to the upper world is similar. The only difference is that you choose an opening that will take you up rather than down, such as a whirlwind, a hollow tree trunk, or a fireplace and chimney. Whatever comes to you as your personal opening is what you use.
One thing which Leslie Gray refuses to do is to tell people what they can expect to find in their travels. "Part of what is empowering to them," she says, "is developing their own maps. For me to develop a map for them would be the very opposite of personal empowerment and would make them dependent on my worldview - not just of this world, but of all the worlds. At the core of the process of acquiring power in shamanism is the ability to find things out for yourself, to know what the upper and lower worlds are like."
Shamans always journey with a mission. The art of shamanism is mastering the ability to bring back important information to heal yourself or others. It is not just journeying to see pretty pictures. A person might do this in the beginning as a way of mastering the technique, but after that, he or she should visit the other worlds with a mission or purpose.
There is nothing to fear on a shamanic journey if it is done properly. A shamanic journey has two advantageous features. First, the beings in the other worlds won't tell the traveler more than she or he can handle at a given time. And second, a guardian spirit generally accompanies the journeyer as a protector. "I think you have more to fear crossing the street in a major city," comments Gray, "than you do going on a shamanic journey with a power animal."
Leslie Gray fosters and promotes what she calls "reciprocal transformation." The idea is to make the inevitable encounter between indigenous systems and technological systems mutually enhancing.
She argues that "conventional analyses have primarily acknowledged the manifest poverty of contemporary indigenous cultures in comparison with the obvious material wealth of industrial-technological societies. In the 21st century, however, the specter of planetary destruction forces us to also see 'wealth' in wisdom about how to live sanely on the earth, in practices of sustainable land use and in evolved knowledge of community-building - all of which exist in the traditions of autochthonous peoples. Correspondingly, mounting evidence of imminent environmental catastrophe forces us to see 'poverty' in the underdeveloped ecopsychology of the technoculture."
Leslie Gray's Woodfish Institute can be found here and she has an introductory article entitled "Reading the Mind of Nature - Ecopsychology and Indigenous Wisdom" here. Other articles on the Woodfish website worth noticing include: Altered States - An Interview on Shamanism, Using Shamanism for Personal Empowerment, and Shamanic Counseling and Ecopsychology. #
From https://alcuinbramerton.blogspot.com/2004/12/resurrection-of-shaman.html, October 5, 2020; the picture at the top of the blog is "Shaman" by Marjorie Davis.
On the October 4, 2020, episode of George Noory's Coast-to-Coast program, Vernon Mahabal, founder and director of the Palmistry Institute in Los Angeles, spoke about what palmistry can reveal about a person. He also shared his predictions for the year ahead based on trends he pulls together from readings of his clients' hands. Things will continue to be rough until February 2021, at which point the pandemic lockdowns and isolation will be mostly over, he forecasted. 2020, he added, was ruled by "Saturnian" energy that involved limitations, and not moving forward. The protest movements in America will continue in 2021, but more violent or extreme aspects will be curbed, he said.
2021 is ruled by "Mercurian" energy, which will bring more relief, fun, and adventure, he offered. There will be struggles in some industries, but business will pick up to a large degree, he added. Mahabal predicted that Trump will be reelected for a second term. Mike Pence will rise to take on an increased leadership role in the second term of Donald Trump, but will likely not pursue the presidency following Trump. Of note, he gave a reading to congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in 2008, and believes she'll be a strong contender for the presidency in 4 to 8 years. In 2022, we'll go into a period where Venus will have increased influence, leading to more intimacy, communion, and closeness, he cited. Expect to see the polar opposite of what we experienced in 2020.
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