Friday, August 29, 2008

Gorillas In The Midst

Imagine you're watching a soccer game. Your favorite team is wearing white and the other team is in black. In the midst of the action, someone in a dark gorilla suit calmly walks to the center of the pitch, waves to the crowd, then walks off. Do you think you would notice this peculiar event? Most people might say yes. Most people would be wrong.

Our perceptual system unconsciously filters out the vast majority of information available to us. Because of this filtering process, we actually experience only a tiny trickle of information, by some estimates a trillionth of what is actually out there. And yet from that trickle our minds construct what we expect to see. So when we pay attention to our favorite white-shirted soccer team, the likelihood of clearly seeing darker objects moving about is substantially reduced. That includes even obvious objects, like gorillas. Psychologists call this phenomenon "inattentional blindness," and it's just one of many ways in which our prior beliefs, interests and expectations shape the way we perceive the world and cause us to overlook the obvious.

Because of these blind spots, some common aspects of human experience literally cannot be seen by those who've spent decades embedded within the Western scientific worldview. That worldview, like any set of cultural beliefs inculcated from childhood, acts like the blinders they put on skittish horses to keep them calm. Between the blinders we see with exceptional clarity, but seeing beyond the blinders is not only exceedingly difficult, after a while it's easy to forget that your vision is restricted.

An important class of human experience that these blinders exclude is psychic phenomena, those commonly reported spooky experiences, such as telepathy and clairvoyance, that suggest we are deeply interconnected in ways that transcend the ordinary senses and our everyday notions of space and time. Well then, is this gorilla in the soccer game, or not? One way to find out is to study the question using the highly effective tools of science while leaving the worldview assumptions behind. That way we can study the question without prejudice, like watching a soccer game without preferring either the white or black team. Neutral observers are much more likely to spot a gorilla, if one is indeed present.

Research on parapsychology is largely taboo in academia, but two Harvard scientists recently set out to settle, once and for all, the age-old question: Is extrasensory perception, or ESP, real? Their sophisticated experiment answers: No, at least, not as far as they can tell using high-tech brain scanners to detect neural evidence of it. Finally, a sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging brainscanner was used (technically, an fMRI), for the first time, to answer this age-old question. The high-tech "no" answer seems conclusive unless you read the published outcome, which reported that one of 16 tests conducted showed a stupendously significant outcome exactly in alignment with what was predicted if psi (i.e., a string of multiple successful experiments by several independent investigators producing lawful and replicable outcomes)were real.

Max Planck, the physicist who dreamt up the idea of the "quantum" in quantum mechanics, once wrote, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." One day a threshold will be crossed, and on that day some of the invisible gorillas in our midst will become a bit easier to see.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Harmonic Dissonance

Two years ago Richard Merrick decided to return to a research project in music perception, that he had postponed nearly thirty years earlier. In the process he came to conclusions, that, would ultimately lead him to the origins of Christian religious symbology:

It seems time had not diminished my curiosity about how we are able to organically measure the degree of dissonance and mentally anticipate the direction of resolution in music harmony. My original work in this area had taken me deep into mathematics and computer simulations in search of an explanation. Now, armed with the scientific method, powerful computer tools and access to the world’s latest research, I was sure that I could determine once and for all whether our perception of music was something organic or nothing more than cultural conditioning. I had no idea that what I was about to learn would shred my faith in Western science and shake the very foundation of my worldview.

Slowly but surely I began to put the pieces together. From a wide array of scientific research in music cognition, neurophysiology, genetics, acoustics, quantum physics and my own calculations and experiments, I developed a set of principles and mathematical models to explain how we perceive music. Naming this system interference theory, I found a way to show how harmonics play a common role in both sound and the structure of our anatomy. The theory proposes that life grows as a balance between resonance and damping just like a vibrating string and that music perception is a built-in pattern matching between the harmonic geometry of sound and identical structures in the ear and brain. In short, I came to see the entire body as a form of crystallized music.

Once I had convinced myself of the existence of harmonic properties in human physiology, I found myself drawn to Leonardo Da Vinci’s popular illustration of the Vitruvian Man to see what he might have known. I learned that the circle and square surrounding the Vitruvian Man represented the mathematical "squaring of the circle" whereby the perimeter of the square is drawn equal (as near as possible) to the circumference of the circle. Proposed first by Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio in the first century BC, the squaring of the circle was intended to represent the harmony and balance in the ideal human form.

As I pondered what this could mean, it occurred to me that the circle implied an inside-out resonance of cells in the body while the square represented an outside-in damping effect to contain the outward push of cellular resonance. Like the standing wave and ring models in my interference theory, it dawned on me that all organic life could be defined as energy exploding outward into space that is then pushed back inward into specific shapes, presumably depending on which harmonic proportions are emphasized by the DNA. Looking back on it, this was a very difficult thing for me to accept at first. Like every student, I had been taught from the earliest age that space was a complete and utter void. Yet, I simply could not resist the logic of life as a form of resonance and space as a kind of damping container.

Using this as a hypothesis, I decided to find a way to measure resonance and damping in the Vitruvian model. To do this, I overlaid a lattice of right-angled standing waves on the Vitruvian figure. When I scaled the lattice such that the circle radius was exactly equal to 2Pi, I was surprised to find that the proportion between the circle and square could be expressed very simply as Pi : (Phi ^ 2), or Pi divided by the square of the golden ratio. Could this be pure coincidence?

While both of these mathematical constants are irrational and infinite, the ratio between them can be seen to converge to the rational ratio 12:10 as 3.14159 / 2.618033 ≈ 1.2. The moment I saw this, I realized that harmonics really could account for our body structure. We have ten fingers and toes at the extremities (where cellular damping is presumably greatest), yet at the same time we have twelve major articulated joints in the body and twenty-four vertebrae in the spine (where cellular resonance must be greatest). Pursuing this line of thought, I decided to add a recursive growth dimension to the lattice (creating what is called a “Hilbert space”). This was incredibly accurate in predicting each of the key plexus points in the Vitruvian model, convincing me that our bodies (and all life) must resonate or grow into the containment geometry of space. And just to confirm this, I reverse engineered the Vitruvian model from the inside out by recursively building up each part of the body mathematically as if it were growing in space!

The implications were absolutely mind-blowing for me, since it seemed to confirm that space was somehow interacting with the structure of life. But this was only the beginning. I began to notice how the harmonic lattice could also contain other things, like ancient religious icons, sacred geometrical patterns and the mysterious symbols used by various esoteric fraternities. Not being a member of any such organization myself, I waded through the literature on these topics to get an idea of where these secret orders came from and what their symbols could mean. I found an unbroken current of knowledge through all of them tracing back to the Egyptian Flower of Life pattern (6th century BC) and its components, particularly Metatron’s Cube and the Vescia Piscis, which all fit perfectly into the Vitruvian harmonic model. I also noticed that the Hebrew Tree of Life fit within this musical lattice, aligning with the seven points of the Hindu chakra system. Even the Gnostic cross – a cube unfolded into 3 x 4 squares – fit nicely into the lattice, transforming the Vitruvian Man into a kind of archetypal crucifix. Could something like this have been the pre-Christian meaning of the cross, I wondered?

As my belief in Western science began to crumble, I asked myself how this simple harmonic lattice could be so completely absent from general public awareness. Why is this not common knowledge? Why is this not part of science, music, history and our entire educational system? Why would it not at least rate as a "fun fact" in a sidebar in Popular Science or on an anatomy poster at the doctor’s office? And above all, why would the Church not want people to know all about it? After all, it could be taken as proof of a sacred ordering principle in nature, inferring the existence of a cosmic intelligence (call it what you will).

Reorienting my study of history from this new perspective, it quickly became obvious to me why we know virtually nothing of this lost knowledge. I discovered that harmonic philosophy had long been associated with paganism (the belief of God in nature) and that the Roman Catholic Church had worked very hard over a period of a thousand years to suppress it through canon law. This was the reason the tritone interval of a half-octave, nicknamed El Diabolus in Musica or Devil in Music, had been banned from sacred music in 1234 AD by Pope Gregory IX (and still maintained to this day). The Church seemed well aware that the tritone could reveal the symmetry in music harmony and open the door to the “carnal knowledge” of harmonics in the body and elsewhere in nature.

As the most powerful force in the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was very successful in establishing and promulgating a franchise system whereby the faithful could only reach God through the Church (and its iconic brand) rather than through the study of self and nature. Using this marketing and distribution network, the Church was able to social engineer vast populations by regulating admission to the afterlife. Through the power of guilt, fear, torture, and war against paganism from the Middle East, the medieval Church struggled to bring under hand a violent and turbulent Europe. The last thing the Church needed was a resurgence of Egyptian gnostism or neo-Pythagoreanism to interfere with its plan.

Such pagan harmonic theosophies were a clear and present danger to the Church and its project of social control. Harmonic ideals, often represented by the Pythagorean pentagram or Hebrew hexagram, were cast by the Church as evil pagan symbols and associated with satanic worship, witchcraft and occult rituals. Those who studied harmonic properties in numbers, geometry and astronomy, such as the Dualist and Gnostic Cathars in southern Europe during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, were threatened, executed or exiled, forcing many to roam the countryside as "gypsies" (a pejorative form of Egyptian). The Knights Templar, the primary keepers of the Egyptian temple mysteries, were then hunted down and murdered by the Church (on Friday 13, 1307) with a few fleeing to far-flung places like northern Scotland. In these remnants of Egyptian gnosis were the seeds of Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and other “secret societies” – all of which were founded on the study of harmonics in numbers and geometry. This said, few adherents today are the least bit aware or interested in harmonic science, opting instead for the benefits of a fraternal network of friends and the occasional community service.

But while an honest look at European history seemed to explain how and why harmonic principles had disappeared from Western religion, it still did not answer why science, as the presumed pillar of empirical truth in the world, did not eventually return to harmonic science as a unifying field of study. So I dug a little deeper and here is what I found. During the run up to The Enlightenment in the late 17th and 18th centuries the “scientific method” had actually been designed to discourage the study of harmonics and its corresponding natural philosophy known as musica universalis or music of the spheres.

I learned that the exclusion of music and pagan harmonic principles from modern science was first suggested in a letter from the astronomer Galileo to his daughter, apparently prompted by the desire to avoid torture and imprisonment by the Italian Inquisition. Supported by Newton, Descartes and others who also wished to find a way to coexist with the Church during this period, the separation of harmonic study away from mathematics and science into “the humanities” became more and more institutionalized as the scientific method was accepted. In time, new generations forgot all about harmonics as a unifying property in nature - even taking up the cause of science to discredit any remaining harmonic theories as “smelling of the pulpit” (a twist of irony).

In the early 20th century, this anti-harmonic campaign reached its zenith in the Michelson-Morley experiment “proving” that space was an empty void with no intrinsic structure or measurable effect on matter. This belief was quickly accepted as the cornerstone of 20th century scientific thought and education, elevating Darwin's theory of natural selection (with the occasional accidental mutation) as the explanation for why life takes the forms it does. Only in recent years has this experiment been shown to be misleading and even false by much more sophisticated instruments indicating space does have a measurable effect on matter.

But, like most everyone these days, I grew up in a society and educational system that still denies the existence of any structuring property in the vacuum or how it could play a role in the formation of life. Even the smartest and best-educated people happily accept the contradictory belief that space is both curved (Einstein) AND an empty void. No one even thinks to raise the question of how it is that nothingness could be curved or, for instance, why our bodies grew ten fingers instead of, say, eight or fourteen. The avoidance and outright ridicule of a structured space remains a point of great disagreement and debate today, not only slowing progress in virtually every field of science but also hiding a very important truth from society.

What is that truth? The truth is that for the past 350 years a complicity of convenience has existed between the institutions of Western religion and science to avoid any mention of harmonics. This unspoken tradition continues to spill over into society to this day, fragmenting Western culture and ideologically supporting unsustainable political, economic and environmental policies. With harmonic studies no longer present in our schools and churches as it once was, we push each generation further and further away from the idea that mankind should seek to follow the harmonic processes at work in nature. Without any coherent social and cultural model, most presume the universe to be a cold, meaningless and random environment within which only accidents or brute force applies. Life itself is seen as a quirky accident in a hostile world, making it easy to agree with people like neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins that selfishness is the winning strategy for survival. Under the widespread presumption of a random and violent universe, nihilism has become the popular conclusion. This said, I do think there is hope in the bright light of quantum physics. While the rest of science continues to be powered by Newtonian machinations, quantum theory quietly proposes a cosmos composed of coherent harmonic waves crystallizing into matter inside a polarized cubic space lattice (like a physical hologram). The Schrodinger wavefunction and “particle in a box” model of quantum mechanics are just another way of describing the harmonic structure of space – no different than the physics of a guitar string. Still, with the long tradition of avoidance, any notion of coherent space has yet to make its way into standard science curriculum while remaining mostly absent in other fields of science.

But if the study of harmonic science ever were allowed back into the educational system, we might expect a cultural Renaissance that would make even Leonardo’s naked Vitruvian Man blush. T-shirts would implore us to “Bring back the aether” while religious bumper stickers proclaim, “Get in touch with your inner archetype!” The full intersecting circles of the Vescia Piscis would suddenly appear in place of just the fish part on all those Suburbans. Even Einstein’s “everything is relative” would sound tired, replaced instead by Pythagoras’“everything is proportional.” Fashion would explode with “sacred geometry” and Egyptian styles could make a comeback. The idea that an archetypal structure in space actually shapes flowers, insects, fish, birds, pets and people would be irresistible and, I think, difficult to suppress once the meme was released.

Driven by grassroots awareness, hardened scientists might eventually accept life as no accident and even consider embracing numbers and geometry as sacred. Western religion might make peace with pagan spirituality and finally admit (with a wry smile) that they knew all along the Holy Ghost was but a blueprint for Man in the fabric of space. And as these ideas took root, maybe our off-balance governments would consider modeling their policies on the coherence demonstrated so beautifully in the human form.

I know – many things would have to change for this to ever occur. Textbooks must be rewritten, curriculum revised, educators reprogrammed, social policies adjusted and harmonic principles accepted (at least in part) by people in positions of power who really want the truth to come out. Will it ever happen? I hope so, and soon! In the meantime, I’m not waiting around for all those scientists, historians, theologians and musicians to build me a new religion. I’m going to listen to a little Cake, enjoy the musical universe we live in and do my part to try and change things for the better. This is my new unapproved harmonic worldview.

Additional information and references on this subject may be found in the author’s latest book; Interference – A Grand Scientific Musical Theory, scheduled for release later this year.

Quotation Nation

"With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a mere appearance, dreamt by another." - Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins

Brains And Bronze

The Antikythera Mechanism, a mysterious astronomical device dated around 150 BC, continues to surprise scholars over 100 years after its discovery. Found in 1901 among the wreckage of a merchant ship off the Greek island of Kythera, nothing was known about the corroded bronze lump until it broke apart to reveal several tiny gears and dials. A manual describing its setup and use was inscribed on the back door, but even with new technology like X ray analysis and reconstructions, there is a lot to be learned about the ancient Greek computer.

Although its function is not entirely clear, recent studies published in Nature suggest that it functioned as a calendar, solar eclipse predictor, and marker of the ancient Olympic Games. More importantly to us, the Antikythera Mechanism “promises to revolutionize our understanding of the history of technology and astronomy" as its secrets are uncovered.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Forward Into The Past

The signs are there, as they usually are. The further our species evolves, the closer we get to our origins. Let's take a look at a potted history of the anthropological progression. Man starts migrating out of southern Africa, up into the Rift Valley of present day Kenya and over the then shallow isthmus of the Red Sea into the Arabian peninsula. From that point millenia will pass, but eventually discrete cultures and civilizations will follow; each with a distinct set of skills to conquer their immediate environment. Not long after the landmasses are settled the need for domination will rise, which begets war and empire. This rapidly escalates the development of technology and the possibility of auto extinction, followed in quick succession by over exploitation of commerce and the mismanagement of natural resources.

Today our issues are rapidly moving away from our national differences and gaining pace towards our common evolutionary needs; not unlike the early homo sapiens. The 'tribe' has grown and diversified, but the challenge remains - how to evolve successfully. Tracing the trajectory of this evolution, it becomes abundantly clear that we are due for another major developmental shift. Combine this with the fact that our global system of governance is failing to deliver such progress, and it must follow that we can only turn to our individual selves for answers. The key lies in a global effort towards enabling personal power; power based on emotional intelligence, individual responsibility and unity conciousness. The affairs of man now requires greater ambition than mere systemic tinkering. We can no longer afford being trapped by the inefficiencies of heritage and legacy. Below is an excerpt from "The 2008 Shift Report: Changing the Story of Our Future" by Matthew Gilbert, Executive Editor and Project Director of the Institute of Noetic Sciences :

One of the most significant recent shifts in worldwide consciousness is a growing awareness and alarm about global warming and planetary instability, along with a decline in trusting governments and other mainstream institutions to tell the truth and take effective action. At the same time, trust in NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and other groups actively working to bring about positive change is strong and steadily growing. As just one “tipping point” in a series of crucial shifts necessary for global transformation, ecological issues may be the most important. In evolving from unusual to common, eco-consciousness is rapidly integrating itself into our social, political, and economic realities. We may be entering the opening stages of what industrial designer Bruce Mau calls the “massive change”—the emergence of a new culture with a new economy and new industries based in a new political system. With a growing understanding that humanity may not have a generation of time left for more trial and error, work that previously languished in the realm of theory has suddenly taken on new urgency and meaning, while new connections are being made among pressing issues that long appeared to be unrelated or fragmented.

Most significantly, we have come to recognize that our ecological crises are a by-product of a flawed economic system and that the system itself is becoming increasingly impacted by—and dependent upon—global conflict and natural disasters. Such a system, addicted to continuous economic growth as tracked by a narrow set of indicators, is proving catastrophic for large numbers of people and their land base. Those who offer a different way of measuring health and prosperity have brought strong challenges against this pervasive economic model. They are working to build a “green” or “caring” or “partnership” economy based on the values of social justice and sustainability, and they are attracting new levels of support while generating tangible, in-the-field results. This unprecedented and widespread response has translated into a renewed sense of purpose and action. The instant availability of vast amounts of new information has allowed greater numbers of people to educate themselves about a variety of issues and to plug into both on-the-ground and virtual networks of change. These efforts are emerging in a multitude of ways as a kind of “swarm intelligence” that is attacking the problems at innumerable inner and outer tension points, constituting what is being called the largest movement of change on Earth.

However, organized responses to social inequities and injustices have struggled in recent years to evolve alongside rapid changes in world dynamics and the new challenges those shifts present. Many organizations and causes within a fragmented network clamor for support, and true progress is often difficult to discern. The perceived failure of the peace and environmental movements, for example, to bring about lasting change has burned cynicism into many activists, at a time when nearly all assessments point to an intensification of the problems facing humanity. As a result, many social change movements have become stuck. But this period of frustration is also catalyzing a much-sought-after evolution in philosophy and strategy. The acceleration of change and the greater imperative brought about by the growing awareness of what are being called the “convergent crises”—resource depletion, peak oil, climate change, systems collapse, and economic instability—are forcing adaptation on both the individual and institutional fronts. Once-moribund activist practices and daunting social change work are being creatively reinvigorated. Effective alternatives to such traditional social change strategies as marches, rallies, and regulated not-for-profits reflect a wealth of new thinking on organizing models that take advantage of the emerging dynamics of collaboration, decentralization, autonomy, flexibility, and technological nimbleness.

With many postmodern theorists advocating a unification of ancient tribal wisdom with conventional science and reason as the next phase of human evolution, it is no surprise that neotribalism, particularly as it applies to organizing people into ad hoc tribal councils or councils of elders, has experienced a revival. One interesting and effective example of this is the growing popularity of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers and its work with the largely science-and-action driven Bioneers organization, which has been sponsoring annual gatherings of scientists and social innovators since 1990. Another hopeful sign is the formation of The Elders, a group of thirteen global leaders—including Gro Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, and Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu—who are applying their collective experience and leadership to such troubled areas as Darfur, the Middle East, and Zimbabwe.

In Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities, “urban tribes” of artists, activists, healers, and eco-practitioners are preparing for an uncertain future by forming councils to identify key issues and plans of preparation and action. Many of these tribes were born out of the Burning Man subculture and other communities of cultural creatives. These intentional groupings tend to self-organize in an egalitarian, nonhierarchical manner. Many are united by a common spiritual practice and share an understanding that personal transformation is the first step toward global transformation. This subculture also produced Burners Without Borders (BWB), which started when a group of participants left the 2005 Burning Man Festival to help clear debris in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Autonomous and decentralized BWB groups are now active in community service in more than a dozen U.S. cities, the United Kingdom, and Peru.

In cities across the world, the urban garden movement has exploded as communities harness the potential of vacant, unused property, while urban farms are developing in response to concerns about obesity, food quality, and sustainable economics. Many U.S. churches have gone green, eschewing their traditional conservative partisan affiliations, while renewing their commitment to biblical stewardship of the Earth. Community-based solutions for the disenfranchised homeless and ex-offender population inspired the state of Vermont to create a program that reintegrates ex-offenders into their communities through “surrogate families.” The program helps to ease the difficulties of transition and to dispel negative stereotypes of the so-called ex-convict. Underscoring much of these positive shifts in action is a sense that a spiritual approach to the convergent crises will, in the end, be most effective. The concept of spiritually-based activism, or the pairing of inner work and outer work, is a theme found in the teachings of most major religions. What is different about such activism in the emergent paradigm is that it acknowledges the limitations of both the detached, self-serving nature of the bliss-seeking personality and the angry self-righteousness of the activist personality.

Mystical scholar Andrew Harvey describes this “sacred activism” as “the fusion of the deepest mystical knowledge, peace, strength, and stamina with calm, focused, and radical action.” The spiritual grounding of the mystical allows the activist to turn fear into compassion; the clear agenda-driven work of the activist half gives applied expression to innate wisdom. There has been perhaps no greater symbolic expression of this idea in current times than what the world recently witnessed in Burma/Myanmar, as lines of solemn, saffron-clad monks marched in peaceful protest against an oppressive military regime. As Jungian influenced writer Paul Levy described it: “The situation in Burma/Myanmar is an out-picturing on the world stage of a deeper, archetypal process that exists enfolded within the collective unconscious of our species. What is being played out in Burma is a living ‘symbol’ of a deeper, mythic process which is currently enacting itself in a variety of scenarios around the world.” In sum, the evidence suggests that a legion of autonomous individuals and groups connecting through a shared system of values into one global network of change, along with concurrent trends toward focused inner work, foretell an upswelling of profound social change throughout the world. These activists are perhaps the greatest symbols of our collective potential.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Year Of Living Biblically

Christianity, and the interpretation of dogma connected to it, has become the defining issue of our time. It reaches into all areas of modern life, across all boundaries around the planet. Tremendous good is accomplished in it's service, just as unspeakable evil is perpetrated and justified in it's name. It is the single most divisive issue today, that also happens to contain enormous potential for human evolution. Whatever one's interpretation, its universally accepted that Christianity is directly referenced from the Bible. With that in mind; author, philosopher, prankster and journalist A.J. Jacobs talks about the year he spent living biblically, following the rules in the Bible as literally as possible:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Zero Point Field

Sir Isaac Newton, the founder of modern physics, touched on many topics in the Principia that go beyond experimental or theoretical scientific theory. The questions he raised are, perhaps, only matched by the seminal work of Darwin and Einstein; much of which is more readily accessed in the field of philosophy. One only has to follow the debate over the essential nature of time, space and motion to become aware of the human obsession with our own origin and transcendental powers. As we observe our civilization having to weather ever deepening crises, there is a perceptible shift towards acceptance of phenomena beyond observable nature. Perhaps Immanuel Kant was correct when he said, that, although we can never hope to answer our metaphysical questions, we can't help asking them anyway.

In her bestseller, 'The Field', award winning journalist Lynne McTaggart provides numerous scientific case studies of observed effects that could not be proved, nor disproved, by current theory. 'The Field' tells a radically new scientific story. Namely, that frontier science suggests our essence is that we exist as a unity; a relationship, utterly interdependent, the parts affecting the whole at every moment. The Field further suggests a far more expansive view of the world and living organisms like us. That the essential communication mechanism of the universe is quantum frequencies connected by a giant matrix - a field of fields called the Zero Point Field. This pulsating energy field is the central engine of our being and consciousness. There is no “me” and “not me”, no “in here” and “out there”. In other words, we are our world.

The classic example being the 'ghost electron'; a study in which scientists established that the parts of a split electron exhibit the same behaviour as if the electron were still a single entity. Furthermore, these parts will adopt different behaviour patterns when observed; confirming that the very act of observation has an influence. Then there's the work of Jacques Bienveniste, a leading biologist, that proved solutions diluted by a factor of 1 million still provide the same effect as the original dose. Going some way to explaining the 'placebo' effect, its a finding that can only be explained by the presence of an unobservable force. This 'secret force of the universe' currently occupies the best minds in quantum physics; which suggests that our lives can be a daily unfolding of the miraculous, influencing events and the environment around us.

As usual the big question revolves around bringing these theories into our everyday lives, so that we not only understand the theory of our potential, but can begin living it. In this vein McTaggart decided to walk the talk by establishing world wide, verifiable experiments. The 'Intention Experiment' is a series of scientifically controlled, web-based experiments testing the power of intention to change the physical world; in conjunction with leading physicists and psychologists from the University of Arizona, Princeton, the International Institute of Biophysics, Cambridge and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. These experiments are being run at McTaggart’s seminars, conferences and on the web; producing extraordinary results. In the pilot experiment, a group of 16 meditators based in London were asked to direct their thoughts to four remote targets in Dr. Popp’s laboratory in Germany: two types of algae, a plant and a human volunteer. The meditators were asked to attempt to lower certain measurable biodynamic processes. Popp and his team discovered significant changes in all four targets while the intentions were being sent, compared to times the meditators were ‘resting’.

Since then, thousands of volunteers from 30 countries around the world have participated in 'Intention Experiments'. The targets are only philanthropic: healing wounds, helping children with attention deficit or patients with Alzheimer’s, counteracting pollution and global warming. Besides the big 'Intention Experiments', the website runs informal 'Intention of the Week' actions for people or situations with illnesses or problems. Future 'Intention Experiments' will include: the Mini-Gaia Project (an ecosphere with an artificially raised temperature, a little like global warming; with the aim to lower the temperature through co-ordinated thought), the Germination Intention Experiment (group intention to help barley seeds germinate early and grow more healthily), the Water Experiment (aimed at changing the pH of polluted water), the Crime Rate Experiment (using intent to lower the crime rate of a major city), the Hospital Study (lowering mortality at a hospital) and the Attention Deficit Study (helping children to concentrate more).

As we see the low mileage methods, of apathy and lament, give way to new acceptance of age old philosophies; we are becoming increasingly more comfortable with concepts that are not necessarily in step with fundamental theory. As the gap closes between spirituality and science, the nature of the human spirit keeps posing ever more intriguing question. Questions that don't always have answers, but do lead to practical applications which produce positive results. In such cases it may not be necessary to explain how something works, but just to accept that it does; or as Fox Mulder of X-Files fame proclaims: "Let's just say that I want to believe".

Monday, August 4, 2008

Metaphysics For The Masses

Having explored systemic failures within global society for a while now, it becomes abundantly clear that it can turn into a depressing exercise. When faced with 'big picture' issues, the average human being tends to shrug the shoulders and mutter words to the effect that: 'it can't be solved by little old me'. Well, we all know that simply doesn't ring true. Yet it contains an important element that promotes, and entrenches, apathy. The knowledge that most of us go along with the establishment view and, too often, unquestioningly follow conventional wisdom. This way we can avoid the stark reality, that, we play a major part in our own continued powerlessness.

The obvious question, of course, would revolve around our voluntary participation in this state of affairs. Why, frankly, would anyone willingly go along with any situation that's clearly detrimental to their interests? This has puzzled great thinkers throughout the ages and one of the pioneers, Aristotle, formulated the concept of metaphysics in reply. Sometimes described by the ancients as 'the queen of sciences', metaphysics is a philosophy which studies that which is beyond the physical, but not necessarily the spiritual. Metaphysics, as a discipline, was a central part of academic inquiry during this time; and it's issues were considered no less important than the other main subjects of physical science, medicine, mathematics, poetics and music.

Personal power, in all it's manifestations, has been derived from this philosophy ever since. This despite the fact, that, metaphysics has been described as 'vague' by empirically driven scientists and rational philosophers. And, yet, it's driving a renewal of interest in issues beyond the physical. This includes the fundamental questions that arise about the nature of time, religion and spirituality; necessity and possibility or the way the world could have been, abstract objects and mathematics, cosmology and cosmogony, determinism and free will, identity and change plus mind and matter. In short, the sort of study that frees individuals from entrenched thought patterns; that have been imprinted from childhood and constantly produce involuntary actions.

Already the short 8 years of this century have produced scientific revelations, that, have stunned scholar and layman alike. Mapping the human genome, animal cloning, planetary discovery, private space flight, a universal blood type and transparent steel to name but a few. But its anthropology that provides the most personal reference, as usual. Early in 2007, an international team of scientists announced that analysis of a skull discovered in South Africa in 1952 revealed the first fossil evidence that modern humans left Africa between 65,000 and 25,000 years ago. Scientists determined the age of the skull, unearthed near Hofmeyr, South Africa, by testing the levels of radiation in sand that had filled the braincase. They figured it was about 36,000 years old, give or take 3,000 years; and matched skulls found in Europe, eastern Asia and Australia, in age and appearance, which supports the theory that modern man originated in sub-Saharan Africa and fanned out from there.

This stunning announcement stands in stark contrast to the present state of Africa. The cradle of humankind's present inhabitants no longer displaying the spirit which drove the evolution of the human species. However, by going back to the level of metaphysics such a state can be re-created again. All it would take is the re-adjustment of perception and the acceptance of an alternative future. Perhaps it would be fitting that such a turnaround, is engineered where few would give it any chance. In our ancient history we'll find the tools for personal transformation; and we'll build a new society, one human being at a time. It will require the acceptance of personal responsibility and accountability, but Africans are nothing if not socially driven. Given the grace to do so, they will benefit all of they did millennia ago.

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