Tag Archive | self awareness

The Ancient Power of Chanting (Mantra) Validated by Modern Science*

The Ancient Power of Chanting (Mantra) Validated by Modern Science*

By Sayer Ji

Chanting (mantra) is an ancient technology that modern science reveals connects us in a very real way to the farthest reaches of the universe.

I love chanting mantras, and I do so daily as an integral part of my kundalini yoga practice. I don’t need to know the specifics of how it produces a calming and sometimes even transcendent effect on my consciousness, but I’ve always been deeply curious about the mechanisms that may be at play beneath the surface of my awareness. This is why I am both deeply grateful and amazed by the work of John Reid, the U.K. inventor of the cymascope — a technology that renders sound visible. In an article published on his website titled, “Cymatics — A Bridge To the Unseen World,” John and his wife Annaleise reveal facts about sound that are simply mind-blowing and worthy of far greater dissemination. First, did you know that sound is actually not a wave but spheroidal phenomenon? In their words:

“Before looking at cymatics more closely let us dispel the popularly held misconception that “sound is a wave”: It isn’t. All audible sounds are, in fact, spherical in form or spheroidal, that is to say audible sounds are sphere-like but not necessarily perfectly spherical. For the sake of simplicity we’ll call these spheroidal sound spheres “Sound bubbles.”

Take a look at the ultrasound beam produced by dolphins:

As you can see above, the sound is not produced in wave form but as a spheroidal beam. If you were to slice horizontally into the beam and look at the cross section it would appear to contain geometric patterns that contain a type of cymaglyphic information analogous to hieroglyphs. John’s dolphin research using cymatoscope has revealed groundbreaking information about how dolphins communicate and “see” with sound. You can drill deeper into this discovery by reading his landmark paper published in the Journal of Marine Sciences: Research and Development titled, “A Phenomenon Discovered While Imaging Dolphin Echolocation Sounds.”

They go on to explain one of the most amazing facts about the ‘sound bubbles’ that we produce, which I find most compelling in connection to my experience with mantra in the kundalini yoga tradition:

“Our world is teeming with beautiful holographic sound bubbles that envelop us in shimmering patterns of acoustic energy, each bubble rushing away at around 700 miles an hour as new bubbles form from the source of the sound. Whether the sound is emitted from your voice or from some other source, such as a musical instrument, this ‘bubble-in-a-hurry’ leaves a fleeting vibrational imprint on the surface of your body: every cell in the surface tissues of your body actually receives sound patterns from the bubbles that surround you.”

Did you get that? When we speak or chant, we are producing sound bubbles that attain speeds of 700 miles per hour. But it gets better. Check this out:

“You create infrared light even when you speak…The atoms and molecules of air within this expanding bubble are bumping into each other, each collision transferring your voice vibrations to the nearest atom or molecule. As these ‘bumps’ occur they cause infrared light to be created due to the friction between the magnetic shells of the air particles. The infrared light carries with it the modulations of your voice that rush away at the incredible speed of 186,000 miles per second. Unlike the sound of a voice, which becomes inaudible after about one mile, the infrared light created by your voice rushes out into space where it travels for eternity, carrying your words or songs to the stars.

Thus, there is a direct relationship between sound and light and in fact there can be no light in the Universe without sound because light is only created when atoms collide with each other, and such collisions are sound. So light and life owe their existence to sound.”

What I find so amazing about this is that kundalini practitioners have made claims about the power of mantra to connect us to the universe that on the surface may appear like pseudo-science. But the science that John Reid is speaking to — the actual empirical phenomena — supports some of these claims.

Here is Yogi Bhajan, founder of the American tradition of kundalini yoga, making statements that now may find some support by the above-mentioned mechanisms discussed by John Reid:

“Every element of the Universe is in a constant state of vibration manifested to us as light, sound, and energy. The human senses perceive only a fraction of the infinite range of vibration, so it is difficult to comprehend that the Word mentioned in the Bible is actually the totality of vibration which underlies and sustains all creation. A person can tune his or her own consciousness into the awareness of that totality with the use of a mantra. By vibrating in rhythm with the breath to a particular sound that is proportional to the creative sound, or sound current, one can expand one’s sensitivity to the entire spectrum of vibration. It is similar to striking a note on a stringed instrument. In other words, as you vibrate, the Universe vibrates with you.”

“What is a mantra? Mantra is two words: Man and tra. Man means mind. Tra means the heat of life. Ra means sun. So, mantra is a powerful combination of words which, if recited, takes the vibratory effect of each of your molecules into the Infinity of the Cosmos. That is called ‘Mantra.’”

“By vibrating in rhythm with the breath to a particular sound that is proportional to the creative sound, or sound current, one can expand one’s sensitivity to the entire spectrum of vibration. It is similar to striking a note on a stringed instrument. In other words, as you vibrate, the Universe vibrates with you.”

“Mantras are not small things, mantras have power. They are the mind vibration in relationship to the Cosmos. The science of mantra is based on the knowledge that sound is a form of energy having structure, power, and a definite predictable effect on the chakras and the human psyche.”

We live in a remarkable time where what was once the stuff of myth, magical thinking, and “woo,” is receiving validation through the hardest of sciences.  For instance, the concept of the body radiating light is now also accepted through the discovery of biophotons which we reported on in a previous article, and even burning medicinal herbs like sage in ‘smudging’ has now been found to have powerful cleansing properties.

The most powerful way to understand information like this is to experience it directly. I encourage readers to try out mantras directly. When you realize that sound is actually moving at tremendous speed and producing light that is extending out into the farthest reaches of the universe, the aphorisms of spiritual masters like Yogi Bhajan no longer seem so strange and unattainable.

For more evidence-based research on the therapeutic value of chanting use our database on Chanting.

To learn more about the CymaScope and a related project Sayer Ji and John Reid are partnering on, take a look arc SystomeBiomed.com.

Try the kundalini mantra lesson below to directly experience the power of mantra.

Source*

Related Topics:

Singing Together Brings Heartbeats into Harmony*

The Science of Sound – Proves You Are a Cosmic Instrument*

Healing Through Sacred Sound and Music

The Healing Sounds of Life

The Shift – The Age of Heart*

The Schumann Resonance Rising and Higher Consciousness*

 

Trust in Yourself

Trust in Yourself

Related Topics:

The Journey Beyond Yourself: On Welcoming Who You Truly Are*

How to Hold Space for Yourself*

When You Stop Wishing Yourself Away*

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

How to Break out of a Spiritual Rut by Finding your Passion*

How to Move Forward after You’ve Hit Rock Bottom*

Maya Angelou’s 3 Word Secret to Living Your Best Life*

Singing Your own Song – A Source of True Joy and Belonging*

How to Resist From a Place of Love: Self-Care for the Long Haul*

As I Began to Love Myself…*

The Delusion ‘I Am Not Responsible’*

The Quiet Miracle*

The Quiet Miracle*

By Jennah Adam

It was one of those days, uneventful, moody, and inert enough to let the tempest of flames rage freely in my chest. Those days where, without knowing why, everything is wrong, and I’m often on the brink of tears with nothing tangible to account for it.

I felt small. Smaller than small. Disposable. Insignificant. Even my miseries were contemptible. The world was suffering on a colossal scale, and here I was thinking about my broken wings; those appendages of spirit that have been tethered and crippled. But I felt the world’s suffering, too. I also felt tortured, when I heard news of an abused child. I also felt bereft, when I saw another grieve. I felt sick to my stomach and despaired too when images of bloody innocents assaulted my eyes. I felt their suffering, as well. I was a girl with broken wings and the burden of Atlas on my back.

This day, I remember clearly. It was a snowy winter’s morning, colder than neglect, but not bitter. I had climbed into the backseat of my mother’s car and thought, with a sickening twist in my stomach, how the rapid shivers I was suppressing in my arms and legs would eventually abate, but not with those who have to stand outside in the snow, dependent on man’s imagined generosity. This day, I was wondering where God’s grace was, to help us wretched humans, who hour after hour grow more unfeeling. This day, I saw no beauty in this world of miseries.

After the shivers slowed to a slight tremble, I leant my forehead on the hazy windowpane and gazed, unseeing, outside. It had been snowing all morning, but the sun was out and the snow was light and downy – almost cheerful. I should have been buoyed by the jocund surroundings, but it was one of those days. As my unfocused eyes followed wayward lines in the mist, I blinked suddenly when a snowflake blew across the windowpane and settled in a corner.

It was perfect. Miraculously unbroken, and just large enough for me to make out its details if I squinted a bit. I marveled at its precise symmetry and geometric designs reminiscent of the patterns on the walls of the Martyr’s shrine. I watched it with ardour, admiring its delicate architecture, but it didn’t remain long. First it broke then melted under the sun’s jealous gaze, leaving, momentarily, a shadow of itself in water form.

I sat back in my seat and mused, “Who is this for?”

I looked out the car window, now clearer after the mist had dried off, to the snow outside and thought again, “Who is this for?”

This one little snowflake, miraculous in its perfection, was one of countless others, all beauteous and unrepeated. I saw them everywhere; over lawns, branches, rooftops; packed into ice underfoot and turned into sludge on the streets. How many were there? Could anyone count them? Does anyone care? He counts them, certainly. He counts them even before they fall.

I thought, “Why?” and this word flurried in my mind like a drifting snowflake. Why? What for? No one could see them. I could barely see the one that landed on my window, and that was by chance. What of the bazillion others that are created just to break or melt or be stepped on mere seconds after their existence?

Who is this for? Who is all this beauty – this perfection – for? Who can see it and enjoy its beauty? Humans? We only begrudge the snow. Why does He fashion such breathtaking little things and grace the blind world with it, then let them pass from existence before one of the blind could begin to see what they truly are? Why create things so small, so insignificant, and make them so utterly beautiful?

I began to fight back tears. He was so Good, so Kind. Even that snowflake was Loved by Him who gave it symmetry and grace. He Loved it enough to make it, and let it fade from this world but not from His Love. He loved it, and created it and gave it from His Beauty, and that is no insignificant thing at all. Merely to exist is to be Loved. And to be Loved is to be Beautiful.

How much like snowflakes we are, I thought then. How much we are Loved.

Source*

Related Topics:

The Charity of Love

Einstein’s Letter to His Daughter about the Universal Force of Love*

The Shift -The Age of Heart*

A Small Act of kindness Disarms anti-Muslim Protester.*

Mother’s Love brings Life back to her Son Two-Hours after Pronounced Dead!*

Al-Biruni’s “Economy of Nature” in Modern Biotechnology

The Shift – The Age of Heart*

The ShiftThe Age of Heart*

By Lance Schuttler

Recently, The Mind Unleashed interviewed Carl Johan Calleman, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Mayan calendar, to discuss with him the significance of a new cycle that begins on May 24th, 2017.

What is your background on the Mayan calendar, for those that don’t know your work? 

My background is in the hard sciences and my PhD is in physical biology and I have lectured at some of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the world. Nonetheless, in 1993 the calling became very strong and I decided to devote myself full time to elucidating the true meaning of the Mayan calendar system in such a way that it became understandable for modern people. I have written six books based on the framework of the Mayan calendar, which have been translated to a total of fourteen languages. I have also worked with Mayan elders to help them bring their message out to the world.

Carl Johan Calleman, Ph.D.

 

What was the significance of October 28th, 2011? 

October 28, was a day when all the nine waves influencing our biology and especially mind shifted and created a new interference pattern (see image below). The importance of this shift had been predicted in the Tortuguero Monument no 6, which said that Bolon Yokte Kuh, the Mayan god of the nine levels, would appear in his full regalia.

Translated to more modern language this means that for the first time in the history of the universe (including humanity) all waves (the full regalia) were activated and running in parallel. Before March 9, 2011 the Ninth Wave creating unity consciousness had not been activated and it was only after this shift point that all waves became accessible for us to create resonance with. (The ancient Maya talked about such a wave as the Plumed Serpent, an energy bringing civilization). Each wave creates a different kind of filter for the human mind (see below) and so depending on what wave we are in resonance we will perceive the world differently.

We will then in turn project this mind and create an external reality consistent with the perceptions of our mind. If we download a mind of duality we will project this onto the world and create conflicts, but if we download a mind of unity we will create a world of peace. What the Maya calendar ultimately describes and the reason it is prophetic are the time lines of these shifting frames of mind. The Mayan calendar system is quite complex and a very fascinating subject that I encourage people to study. Nonetheless, from the perspective of creating the future of humanity it is really enough to follow the Ninth Wave and be able to discern its effects on our individual lives.

What was the significance of December 21st, 2012? 

None at all. It was a miscalculation by the archaeologists that some new age researchers who had not looked into the matter deeply came to embrace. It was very unfortunate that the Mayan calendar was popularized as some significant that would take place in a singular day. This is not how the Mayan calendar works. Instead it describes shifting waves with wavelengths of different lengths sometimes bringing change over very long time periods.

What makes May 24th, 2017 so special? 

In principle, it is not more special than any other beginnings of a 36 wave period of the Ninth Wave. (see http://www.xzone.com.au/9thwave.php). May 24, is the first day of the 64th DAY in the Ninth Wave. However, it may be regarded as the beginning of a sustained effort to facilitate for people to create resonance with the Ninth Wave. This event will be followed by events on June 29, August 4, and so on. It is not to be looked upon as a singular event. Yet, it can be argued that the chaos in the world has come to a point where it becomes a necessity to create resonance on a larger collective scale with the wave that generates unity consciousness. 

  1. Did the “Age of Heart” begin at the beginning of the 9th wave or is it beginning on May 24th?

Our universe, and we ourselves are created by the combined effects of Nine Waves of creation. Hence, there is no change that takes place across the board at any particular shift points in time. The effects on our heart depends on what waves we have created resonance with and this comes don to what kind of intentions we have. Most people today still resonate with the 6th 7th and 8th wave, none of which creates a fully open heart. However, a minority of people have started to develop a resonance with the ninth wave and over time as they are guided by this they will gain a new perception of reality beyond separation. No event on any single date will change humanity to the Age of Heart, but the sustained intention to manifest the destiny of humanity through resonance with the Ninth Wave will create such a Golden Age. 

  1. The San Bushmen of the Kalahari are in direct contact with you and other leaders in the Mayan calendar community, like Sean Caulfield, and are creating a ceremony to initiate this new cycle for humanity. Can you tell us a bit about these people as well as ceremony that will be taking place? 

The San are representatives of what arguably is the oldest existing culture of our planet who have suffered severe persecution over the last hundred years. They live in the Kalahari Desert (the southern part of Africa) and may be looked upon as a shamanic collective, which through there trance dance enter the spirit world where they communicate with God and all the animal spirits. It may be the only culture on our planet that still looks upon such a state of consciousness as the default, that which is real. On the particular day May 24, when a new wave period in the ninth wave begins, they will create such a dance. The event has been called Ignite the One Heart Fire, pointing towards the unity that is the destiny of humanity. [You can read more here about the event that has been posted on Facebook.]

  1. For people who aren’t able to attend the event in person (in Cape Town, South Africa) what might people do to participate on their own that day?

The important thing is that people through their own experiences become aware of the existence of the Ninth Wave and for this to happen they will need to follow the ninth wave for a number of wave periods to see how its ups and down affect their lives. The Bushmen are setting a tone, but others can organize events or simply light a candle to mark that it is the beginning of a new DAY in the Ninth Wave. This is not a day that people should expect everything to change automatically. It is more of a commitment to participate in the transformative process brought by the Ninth Wave over years to come. [The Bushmen have also invited and asked all indigenous groups to participate in this ceremony in ways each group sees fit. Please spread the word accordingly. Again, the event where more information is posted is on Facebook here at this link. ]

  1. You’ve just stated that there are other events planned as the cycles continue to converge. Where can people find out more information about these dates?

For the shift days in the Ninth Wave I recommend http://www.xzone com.au/9thwave.php

Carl Calleman’s new book is called The 9 Waves of Creation: Quantum Physics, Holographic Evolution and the Destiny of Humanity and his website is calleman.com

Source*

Related Topics:

Panic Grips Self-Inflicted U.S. NSA Shuts-down as Russia as all Clinton Phone-calls*

Inuit Elders Tell NASA the Earth’s Axis has Shifted*

The Sun’s Polar Shift has Begun

Sun’s Magnetic Field = Shift in Human Behavior*

Freaky Weather, Climate Change, Pole Shift, or Signs of a New Era!?

A Universal Shift in Reality!

Electro-Smog and the Shift of Ages

Is the Sun and Earth Synchronizing?*

New Solar Phenomenon Rich in Helium-3*

Earth Shift and Shift of the Ages

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

By Fatima Muhammad

When the Panama papers broke, social justice activists rejoiced. They thought there would be a huge, sustained reaction, a real movement. Surely, people would be so outraged, that they would stand up for their rights! But they were wrong. There was little outcry. Instead, there was sarcasm, resignation, weariness, and cynicism. “Corrupt leaders are corrupt. So what?”, sums up the reaction.

Global violence and bloodshed triggers similar exercises in shoulder shrugging, and the reason is the same – we’ve given up. People feel they can’t make a real difference because they can’t physically stop the violence, or because, other than the occasional donation, they can’t stem the flow of misery coming out through the wounds on humanity. We feel powerless. We’ve accepted the script, and we’re fatigued. Clickbait that makes us chuckle is easier on our minds than being obliged to think about how we’re slowly losing our freedom, our rights to privacy, our natural resources, and our expectations of safety for people in other parts of the world.

This fatigue has more malignant an impact on our morality than the sum total of all the evils being brought to bear on us. It’s a kind of moral obesity – it makes you want to sit on the sofa and stuff your brain with junk food rather than roll your sleeves up and take the world on. Even worse – it makes you exhausted to the point that it becomes difficult to fight temptation. Here are some ways to tackle that fatigue, and keep our sense of outrage alive and pure…

  1. Don’t give up on people – give up on corrupt social structures

“People are corrupt.” “Don’t trust anyone.” “People from that background are always like that.” These are loser concepts.

Sure, always operate with caution, but know where the blame lies – at the doorstep of unusual circumstances. In extreme situations, ordinary people wind up dehumanising both themselves and others. To combat this, we should celebrate humanity on every level. It has become so easy to objectify and strip agency from real human beings.

Labels do no favours, instead they distract from the real issues. This is what people in power have always done: they demonise immigrants; people of other faiths; people of different skin colours, they know better than we do this kind of thinking is critical to keeping the power imbalance alive and well.

Rather than resigning ourselves to that way of thinking, we should be true revolutionaries and embrace everyone’s potential for goodness – and be properly outraged at injustice… not accept it as inevitable.

  1. It wasn’t always this way. It can get better again, but only if we see the value in ourselves and stop dismissing the things we do as “small.”

No era in history has been perfect, but matters have never deteriorated on a global level to the extent it has today.

Most crucial to having a vibrant, energetic resistance is to realise evil is temporary. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Bani Isra’il, verse 81,

surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).”

We usually attribute this to the advent of the Mahdi, or to the Day of Judgement, but what we fail to realise is that in this verse Allah has given us a clue to the nature of evil – its time runs out eventually. Prod it with the truth, and it’ll curl up and die.

We can never embody the full power of Haq that is present in the Mahdi, but even our attempts to live the Truth in our daily lives on “minor” levels, will obliterate injustice on all levels. When Haq or Truth is brought out into the battlefield, injustice cannot remain.

This can’t happen if we don’t value ourselves and our moral decisions. If we truly value ourselves as individuals, as humans, as people who trust in a higher power, we must be convinced that every good action we do, no matter how small, will have that ripple effect.

  1. Understand the value of dismantling systems

When we campaign for women’s rights or the rights of minorities, it’s usually with the focus to grant them the same rights as everyone else. This overlooks a glaring problem – becoming just as good a prop as everyone else in the real problem – an inherently broken system. A system that will always find someone or the other to oppress.

Instead of realising that giving vulnerable groups a place at the table is only the first step towards true equality, we think that it’s the entirety of the struggle. We don’t explain to ourselves and to others how that table is just a bad table to be at in the long run. A table that will invite you to sit at it if you make enough noise, but then expects you to engage in the same oppressions as were inflicted upon you.

Inevitably when let down even after being part of the same structures we aspired to, we are afflicted with disappointment and weariness. It makes it feel as though injustice is inevitable.

It isn’t. We just need to build a better table.

  1. Don’t contribute towards glamourising power

We all remember those halcyon days when our only exposure to Trump was via “The Apprentice.” The show had a lot of followers and fans, and was in a similar vein to “American Idol” and other shows that were enamoured of the Simon Cowell habit of degrading and bullying others.

Today wherever you see glamour, it’s most often built on the backs of someone, somewhere being oppressed. Keep empowering those people and that mindset, and watch how quickly orange faced angry toddlers fill up the White House.

Part of our complacency in being oppressed is because we know we will always be, in some way, complicit in aiding those systems. Why? Because we can’t see ourselves distancing our hearts from ostentatious power. It’s the physical worldly companion of what we often hear will happen on the Day of Judgement – everyone will be raised with the people they love. This isn’t just a metaphysical scare tactic by some invisible man in the sky, it’s a permanent reminder that we sink or swim with the people we invest in emotionally. The more we adore those who oppress on one level or another, the less we will be moved to call out their injustices. On the contrary, seeing through this facade will keep us alert and less liable to give up on resistance.

  1. Don’t encourage fear

Society will always reward people who bow to fear. They lead trouble-free lives. Even within our communities, when we see domestic problems, we sometimes see people giving advice to submit to the situation rather than rock the boat. This mentality tries to teach us that if you submit to oppression you will be rewarded in other ways. The irony is, having absorbed this belief, victims often find justifications to become oppressors themselves later in life.

To such minds primed to accept and glorify hurtful behaviour at a household level, it is only to be expected that the higher up the ladder you go, the greater the scale of oppression. Resisting tyranny not only seems laughable – but even wrong. This leads to more complacency.

  1. Keep educating and being educated

Fatigue is only inevitable when the knowledge of problems isn’t translated into actionable solutions. The Prophet has a brilliant saying extremely relevant to social justice:

Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it ] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.”

We have so many platforms today where we can talk out about injustice. There are so many specialised areas with an assortment of related issues that impact all of us, yet unless those from our community who are knowledgeable in those areas create a platform, or write or speak about those issues, we won’t even know. People who are educated in areas like technology, medicine, education, journalism and meteorology are more aware of critical issues in that particular realm that will impact the rest of world. They should blog, write, bring those issues to us in terms we can understand.

When we see injustice, when the “truth becomes alone and sad,” we’re encouraged to remember Imam Hussain ibn Ali. This isn’t simply an act of reverence, it’s a refresher on how if, in the climate of our own time, we see social injustice, then no matter how bad things get we are expected to have a response – and that it will ultimately have an impact.

We must remember resignation to the sadder facts of life is antithetical to real change. When we give up on the idea of a better world, evil digs its roots in deeper.

Source*

Related Topics:

How to Resist From a Place of Love: Self-Care for the Long Haul*

The Disappearance of Silence*

We were Made for these Times*

Men tired of Gang Stereotypes Launch cook for refugees’Campaign*

How One Small Tribe Beat Coal and Built a Solar Plant*

Nepal’s Military Set to Use Transcendental Meditation to Relieve Global Collective Stress and Stop War*

This shameless western power Legalised Colonial-era Child Torture – and its Citizens have had Enough*

U.N. Praises Iran’s “Exemplary” Leadership in Hosting Refugees*

Citizens Fight Back, Move to Impeach Judge for Letting Paedophile Cop Off Easy*

Immigrant Designer Goes From Homeless to Wealthy, Then Sells Everything to Help Others*

They Lost their Jungles to Plantations, but these Indigenous Women Grew them Back*

Swedish Developers offer a Way to Delete Yourself off the Internet*

U.K. Judge ‘being driven from the public service’ for Backing Natural Marriage*

One Man’s Quest to Save the Forests of Tanzania*

Unity on U.S. Hands Off Syria Coalition*

 

 

 

Your Brain is not a Computer*

Your Brain is not a Computer*

By Robert Epstein

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.

Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. For more than half a century now, psychologists, linguists, neuroscientists and other experts on human behaviour have been asserting that the human brain works like a computer.

To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. Thanks to evolution, human neonates, like the newborns of all other mammalian species, enter the world prepared to interact with it effectively. A baby’s vision is blurry, but it pays special attention to faces, and is quickly able to identify its mother’s. It prefers the sound of voices to non-speech sounds, and can distinguish one basic speech sound from another. We are, without doubt, built to make social connections.

A healthy newborn is also equipped with more than a dozen reflexes – ready-made reactions to certain stimuli that are important for its survival. It turns its head in the direction of something that brushes its cheek and then sucks whatever enters its mouth. It holds its breath when submerged in water. It grasps things placed in its hands so strongly it can nearly support its own weight. Perhaps most important, newborns come equipped with powerful learning mechanisms that allow them to change rapidly so they can interact increasingly effectively with their world, even if that world is unlike the one their distant ancestors faced.

Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with, and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. If we lacked any of these capabilities at birth, we would probably have trouble surviving.

But here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently. Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever.

We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. We don’t create representations of visual stimuli, store them in a short-term memory buffer, and then transfer the representation into a long-term memory device. We don’t retrieve information or images or words from memory registers. Computers do all of these things, but organisms do not.

Computers, quite literally, process information – numbers, letters, words, formulas, images. The information first has to be encoded into a format computers can use, which means patterns of ones and zeroes (‘bits’) organised into small chunks (‘bytes’). On my computer, each byte contains 64 bits, and a certain pattern of those bits stands for the letter d, another for the letter o, and another for the letter g. Side by side, those three bytes form the word dog. One single image – say, the photograph of my cat Henry on my desktop – is represented by a very specific pattern of a million of these bytes (‘one megabyte’), surrounded by some special characters that tell the computer to expect an image, not a word.

Computers, quite literally, move these patterns from place to place in different physical storage areas etched into electronic components. Sometimes they also copy the patterns, and sometimes they transform them in various ways – say, when we are correcting errors in a manuscript or when we are touching up a photograph. The rules computers follow for moving, copying and operating on these arrays of data are also stored inside the computer. Together, a set of rules is called a ‘program’ or an ‘algorithm’. A group of algorithms that work together to help us do something (like buy stocks or find a date online) is called an ‘application’ – what most people now call an ‘app’.

Forgive me for this introduction to computing, but I need to be clear: computers really do operate on symbolic representations of the world. They really store and retrieve. They really process. They really have physical memories. They really are guided in everything they do, without exception, by algorithms.

Humans, on the other hand, do not – never did, never will. Given this reality, why do so many scientists talk about our mental life as if we were computers?

In his book In Our Own Image (2015), the artificial intelligence expert George Zarkadakis describes six different metaphors people have employed over the past 2,000 years to try to explain human intelligence.

In the earliest one, eventually preserved in the Bible, humans were formed from clay or dirt, which an intelligent god then infused with its spirit. That spirit ‘explained’ our intelligence – grammatically, at least.

The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and mental functioning. The hydraulic metaphor persisted for more than 1,600 years, handicapping medical practice all the while.

By the 1500s, automata powered by springs and gears had been devised, eventually inspiring leading thinkers such as René Descartes to assert that humans are complex machines. In the 1600s, the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes suggested that thinking arose from small mechanical motions in the brain. By the 1700s, discoveries about electricity and chemistry led to new theories of human intelligence – again, largely metaphorical in nature. In the mid-1800s, inspired by recent advances in communications, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph.

The mathematician John von Neumann stated flatly that the function of the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital’, drawing parallel after parallel between the components of the computing machines of the day and the components of the human brain

Each metaphor reflected the most advanced thinking of the era that spawned it. Predictably, just a few years after the dawn of computer technology in the 1940s, the brain was said to operate like a computer, with the role of physical hardware played by the brain itself and our thoughts serving as software. The landmark event that launched what is now broadly called ‘cognitive science’ was the publication of Language and Communication (1951) by the psychologist George Miller. Miller proposed that the mental world could be studied rigorously using concepts from information theory, computation and linguistics.

This kind of thinking was taken to its ultimate expression in the short book The Computer and the Brain (1958), in which the mathematician John von Neumann stated flatly that the function of the human nervous system is ‘prima facie digital’. Although he acknowledged that little was actually known about the role the brain played in human reasoning and memory, he drew parallel after parallel between the components of the computing machines of the day and the components of the human brain.

Propelled by subsequent advances in both computer technology and brain research, an ambitious multidisciplinary effort to understand human intelligence gradually developed, firmly rooted in the idea that humans are, like computers, information processors. This effort now involves thousands of researchers, consumes billions of dollars in funding, and has generated a vast literature consisting of both technical and mainstream articles and books. Ray Kurzweil’s book How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed (2013), exemplifies this perspective, speculating about the ‘algorithms’ of the brain, how the brain ‘processes data’, and even how it superficially resembles integrated circuits in its structure.

The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour could proceed in certain eras and cultures without reference to a spirit or deity. The validity of the IP metaphor in today’s world is generally assumed without question.

But the IP metaphor is, after all, just another metaphor – a story we tell to make sense of something we don’t actually understand. And like all the metaphors that preceded it, it will certainly be cast aside at some point – either replaced by another metaphor or, in the end, replaced by actual knowledge.

Just over a year ago, on a visit to one of the world’s most prestigious research institutes, I challenged researchers there to account for intelligent human behaviour without reference to any aspect of the IP metaphor. They couldn’t do it, and when I politely raised the issue in subsequent email communications, they still had nothing to offer months later. They saw the problem. They didn’t dismiss the challenge as trivial. But they couldn’t offer an alternative. In other words, the IP metaphor is ‘sticky’. It encumbers our thinking with language and ideas that are so powerful we have trouble thinking around them.

The faulty logic of the IP metaphor is easy enough to state. It is based on a faulty syllogism – one with two reasonable premises and a faulty conclusion. Reasonable premise #1: all computers are capable of behaving intelligently. Reasonable premise #2: all computers are information processors. Faulty conclusion: all entities that are capable of behaving intelligently are information processors.

Setting aside the formal language, the idea that humans must be information processors just because computers are information processors is just plain silly, and when, someday, the IP metaphor is finally abandoned, it will almost certainly be seen that way by historians, just as we now view the hydraulic and mechanical metaphors to be silly.

If the IP metaphor is so silly, why is it so sticky? What is stopping us from brushing it aside, just as we might brush aside a branch that was blocking our path? Is there a way to understand human intelligence without leaning on a flimsy intellectual crutch? And what price have we paid for leaning so heavily on this particular crutch for so long? The IP metaphor, after all, has been guiding the writing and thinking of a large number of researchers in multiple fields for decades. At what cost?

In a classroom exercise I have conducted many times over the years, I begin by recruiting a student to draw a detailed picture of a dollar bill – ‘as detailed as possible’, I say – on the blackboard in front of the room. When the student has finished, I cover the drawing with a sheet of paper, remove a dollar bill from my wallet, tape it to the board, and ask the student to repeat the task. When he or she is done, I remove the cover from the first drawing, and the class comments on the differences.

Because you might never have seen a demonstration like this, or because you might have trouble imagining the outcome, I have asked Jinny Hyun, one of the student interns at the institute where I conduct my research, to make the two drawings. Here is her drawing ‘from memory’ (notice the metaphor):

And here is the drawing she subsequently made with a dollar bill present:

Jinny was as surprised by the outcome as you probably are, but it is typical. As you can see, the drawing made in the absence of the dollar bill is horrible compared with the drawing made from an exemplar, even though Jinny has seen a dollar bill thousands of times.

What is the problem? Don’t we have a ‘representation’ of the dollar bill ‘stored’ in a ‘memory register’ in our brains? Can’t we just ‘retrieve’ it and use it to make our drawing?

Obviously not, and a thousand years of neuroscience will never locate a representation of a dollar bill stored inside the human brain for the simple reason that it is not there to be found.

The idea that memories are stored in individual neurons is preposterous: how and where is the memory stored in the cell?

A wealth of brain studies tells us, in fact, that multiple and sometimes large areas of the brain are often involved in even the most mundane memory tasks. When strong emotions are involved, millions of neurons can become more active. In a 2016 study of survivors of a plane crash by the University of Toronto neuropsychologist Brian Levine and others, recalling the crash increased neural activity in ‘the amygdala, medial temporal lobe, anterior and posterior midline, and visual cortex’ of the passengers.

The idea, advanced by several scientists, that specific memories are somehow stored in individual neurons is preposterous; if anything, that assertion just pushes the problem of memory to an even more challenging level: how and where, after all, is the memory stored in the cell?

So what is occurring when Jinny draws the dollar bill in its absence? If Jinny had never seen a dollar bill before, her first drawing would probably have not resembled the second drawing at all. Having seen dollar bills before, she was changed in some way. Specifically, her brain was changed in a way that allowed her to visualise a dollar bill – that is, to re-experience seeing a dollar bill, at least to some extent.

The difference between the two diagrams reminds us that visualising something (that is, seeing something in its absence) is far less accurate than seeing something in its presence. This is why we’re much better at recognising than recalling. When we re-member something (from the Latin re, ‘again’, and memorari, ‘be mindful of’), we have to try to relive an experience; but when we recognise something, we must merely be conscious of the fact that we have had this perceptual experience before.

Perhaps you will object to this demonstration. Jinny had seen dollar bills before, but she hadn’t made a deliberate effort to ‘memorise’ the details. Had she done so, you might argue, she could presumably have drawn the second image without the bill being present. Even in this case, though, no image of the dollar bill has in any sense been ‘stored’ in Jinny’s brain. She has simply become better prepared to draw it accurately, just as, through practice, a pianist becomes more skilled in playing a concerto without somehow inhaling a copy of the sheet music.

From this simple exercise, we can begin to build the framework of a metaphor-free theory of intelligent human behaviour – one in which the brain isn’t completely empty, but is at least empty of the baggage of the IP metaphor.

As we navigate through the world, we are changed by a variety of experiences. Of special note are experiences of three types:

(1) we observe what is happening around us (other people behaving, sounds of music, instructions directed at us, words on pages, images on screens);

(2) we are exposed to the pairing of unimportant stimuli (such as sirens) with important stimuli (such as the appearance of police cars);

(3) we are punished or rewarded for behaving in certain ways.

We become more effective in our lives if we change in ways that are consistent with these experiences – if we can now recite a poem or sing a song, if we are able to follow the instructions we are given, if we respond to the unimportant stimuli more like we do to the important stimuli, if we refrain from behaving in ways that were punished, if we behave more frequently in ways that were rewarded.

Misleading headlines notwithstanding, no one really has the slightest idea how the brain changes after we have learned to sing a song or recite a poem. But neither the song nor the poem has been ‘stored’ in it. The brain has simply changed in an orderly way that now allows us to sing the song or recite the poem under certain conditions. When called on to perform, neither the song nor the poem is in any sense ‘retrieved’ from anywhere in the brain, any more than my finger movements are ‘retrieved’ when I tap my finger on my desk. We simply sing or recite – no retrieval necessary.

A few years ago, I asked the neuroscientist Eric Kandel of Columbia University – winner of a Nobel Prize for identifying some of the chemical changes that take place in the neuronal synapses of the Aplysia (a marine snail) after it learns something – how long he thought it would take us to understand how human memory works. He quickly replied: ‘A hundred years.’ I didn’t think to ask him whether he thought the IP metaphor was slowing down neuroscience, but some neuroscientists are indeed beginning to think the unthinkable – that the metaphor is not indispensable.

A few cognitive scientists – notably Anthony Chemero of the University of Cincinnati, the author of Radical Embodied Cognitive Science (2009) – now completely reject the view that the human brain works like a computer. The mainstream view is that we, like computers, make sense of the world by performing computations on mental representations of it, but Chemero and others describe another way of understanding intelligent behaviour – as a direct interaction between organisms and their world.

My favourite example of the dramatic difference between the IP perspective and what some now call the ‘anti-representational’ view of human functioning involves two different ways of explaining how a baseball player manages to catch a fly ball – beautifully explicated by Michael McBeath, now at Arizona State University, and his colleagues in a 1995 paper in Science. The IP perspective requires the player to formulate an estimate of various initial conditions of the ball’s flight – the force of the impact, the angle of the trajectory, that kind of thing – then to create and analyse an internal model of the path along which the ball will likely move, then to use that model to guide and adjust motor movements continuously in time in order to intercept the ball.

That is all well and good if we functioned as computers do, but McBeath and his colleagues gave a simpler account: to catch the ball, the player simply needs to keep moving in a way that keeps the ball in a constant visual relationship with respect to home plate and the surrounding scenery (technically, in a ‘linear optical trajectory’). This might sound complicated, but it is actually incredibly simple, and completely free of computations, representations and algorithms.

we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace, and we will never achieve immortality through downloading

Two determined psychology professors at Leeds Beckett University in the U.K. – Andrew Wilson and Sabrina Golonka – include the baseball example among many others that can be looked at simply and sensibly outside the IP framework. They have been blogging for years about what they call a ‘more coherent, naturalised approach to the scientific study of human behaviour… at odds with the dominant cognitive neuroscience approach’. This is far from a movement, however; the mainstream cognitive sciences continue to wallow uncritically in the IP metaphor, and some of the world’s most influential thinkers have made grand predictions about humanity’s future that depend on the validity of the metaphor.

One prediction – made by the futurist Kurzweil, the physicist Stephen Hawking and the neuroscientist Randal Koene, among others – is that, because human consciousness is supposedly like computer software, it will soon be possible to download human minds to a computer, in the circuits of which we will become immensely powerful intellectually and, quite possibly, immortal. This concept drove the plot of the dystopian movie Transcendence (2014) starring Johnny Depp as the Kurzweil-like scientist whose mind was downloaded to the internet – with disastrous results for humanity.

Fortunately, because the IP metaphor is not even slightly valid, we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace; alas, we will also never achieve immortality through downloading. This is not only because of the absence of consciousness software in the brain; there is a deeper problem here – let’s call it the uniqueness problem – which is both inspirational and depressing.

Because neither ‘memory banks’ nor ‘representations’ of stimuli exist in the brain, and because all that is required for us to function in the world is for the brain to change in an orderly way as a result of our experiences, there is no reason to believe that any two of us are changed the same way by the same experience. If you and I attend the same concert, the changes that occur in my brain when I listen to Beethoven’s 5th will almost certainly be completely different from the changes that occur in your brain. Those changes, whatever they are, are built on the unique neural structure that already exists, each structure having developed over a lifetime of unique experiences.

This is why, as Sir Frederic Bartlett demonstrated in his book Remembering (1932), no two people will repeat a story they have heard the same way and why, over time, their recitations of the story will diverge more and more. No ‘copy’ of the story is ever made; rather, each individual, upon hearing the story, changes to some extent – enough so that when asked about the story later (in some cases, days, months or even years after Bartlett first read them the story) – they can re-experience hearing the story to some extent, although not very well (see the first drawing of the dollar bill, above).

This is inspirational, I suppose, because it means that each of us is truly unique, not just in our genetic makeup, but even in the way our brains change over time. It is also depressing, because it makes the task of the neuroscientist daunting almost beyond imagination. For any given experience, orderly change could involve a thousand neurons, a million neurons or even the entire brain, with the pattern of change different in every brain.

Worse still, even if we had the ability to take a snapshot of all of the brain’s 86 billion neurons and then to simulate the state of those neurons in a computer, that vast pattern would mean nothing outside the body of the brain that produced it. This is perhaps the most egregious way in which the IP metaphor has distorted our thinking about human functioning. Whereas computers do store exact copies of data – copies that can persist unchanged for long periods of time, even if the power has been turned off – the brain maintains our intellect only as long as it remains alive. There is no on-off switch. Either the brain keeps functioning, or we disappear. What’s more, as the neurobiologist Steven Rose pointed out in The Future of the Brain (2005), a snapshot of the brain’s current state might also be meaningless unless we knew the entire life history of that brain’s owner – perhaps even about the social context in which he or she was raised.

Think how difficult this problem is. To understand even the basics of how the brain maintains the human intellect, we might need to know not just the current state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, not just the varying strengths with which they are connected, and not just the states of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point, but how the moment-to-moment activity of the brain contributes to the integrity of the system. Add to this the uniqueness of each brain, brought about in part because of the uniqueness of each person’s life history, and Kandel’s prediction starts to sound overly optimistic. (In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, the neuroscientist Kenneth Miller suggested it will take ‘centuries’ just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.)

Meanwhile, vast sums of money are being raised for brain research, based in some cases on faulty ideas and promises that cannot be kept. The most blatant instance of neuroscience gone awry, documented recently in a report in Scientific American, concerns the $1.3 billion Human Brain Project launched by the European Union in 2013. Convinced by the charismatic Henry Markram that he could create a simulation of the entire human brain on a supercomputer by the year 2023, and that such a model would revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, E.U. officials funded his project with virtually no restrictions. Less than two years into it, the project turned into a ‘brain wreck’, and Markram was asked to step down.

We are organisms, not computers. Get over it. Let’s get on with the business of trying to understand ourselves, but without being encumbered by unnecessary intellectual baggage. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key.

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Trauma and the Lineage of Illness*

Trauma and the Lineage of Illness*

Delphinium staphysagria

By Carina Lopez

Tolle Totum

Hahnemann writes in paragraph 78 of the Organon of Medicine that “true natural chronic disease arises from a chronic miasm.” A miasm is a series of reactions to abuses in life. These include dietary passions, habits, and environmental factors that affect generations of families through chronic illness.

Inherited and Suppressed Anger

“The women in my family are the martyrs for the men in my family,” Teresa stated, after recounting the generations of sexual and physical abuse the women in her family had suffered silently. Teresa had come to my office for help with her frequent panic attacks and debilitating anxiety and depression, from which she had suffered for as long as she could remember. She had already tried anxiety and depression medications, but they caused her to feel even more apathetic and disconnected from the world around her.

On the surface, Teresa had a very sweet and happy disposition. She smiled all the time, she was warm, and her coworkers adored her; however, she found it difficult to stand up for herself and remained a pushover on the job until a number of transgressions occurred, at which time she would explode.

Teresa was born with jaundice. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ideology, jaundice relates to a perturbation of the liver, the organ considered “the seat of anger.” An unhealthy liver spurs an angry human being, and excessive anger damages the liver further, creating a vicious cycle. In addition, when Teresa became anxious, her heart fluttered away with palpitations. In TCM, the heart relates to joy. A morose, anxious person, according to ancient medical traditions as far back as Hippocrates, bears an unhealthy heart.

From a homeopathic perspective, the trauma endured by Teresa’s mother and earlier generations of women in her family was now ingrained in Teresa’s very being, perpetuating early and chronic illness. Teresa had developed a miasmatic reaction due to the sustained abuse of her ancestors and herself.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes five common experiences of grief that may occur in any order after trauma:

  • Denial, or shock and disbelief, regarding the trauma
  • Anger, often misplaced onto anything and everyone nearby
  • Bargaining as a way to negotiate, find excuses, and displace blame
  • Depression, a deep despair of overcoming the trauma
  • Acceptance occurs when a sufferer comes to terms with her trauma.

These aspects of grieving are multi-faceted and manifest differently in every individual. Teresa’s inability to appropriately express her anger at work, leading to panic and explosive anger, indicated an urgent need to process her response to her grief and trauma.

I chose the homeopathic remedy Delphinium staphysagria, a beautiful purple flower that has been used medicinally for centuries. To many people, the color purple represents congealed blood, as when our blood boils from anger. The flower is toxic in its whole form, but has been used homeopathically to treat depression and hysteria with much success. William Boericke, MD, in his Homeopathic Materia Medica, describes Staphysagria as “necessary for those showing violent outbursts of passion.”

Teresa took a 200C potency BID along with herbs such as mimosa (Mimosa pudica), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) and hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha). She changed her diet based on her TCM constitution, received frequent acupuncture treatments, and had the time and safe space during consultations to express herself and be fully heard.

Soon enough, Teresa’s anxiety decreased markedly, and she described feeling more centered, more calm and more in control. In social interactions, she found she was more readily speaking up for herself and not losing her temper. Alternative medicine had touched her miasm and triggered her progression through her underlying grief, shining a light toward her healing.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Teresa then brought in her mother, who suffers from a depression she attributed to many years and generations of abuse. Her mother told me that, during countless years of abuse, she never once cried. She was stuck in a depressed state, and even after leaving the abusive situation, she had not been able to cry or come to a place of acceptance.

Four days after a single dose of Natrum muriaticum, 200C, she called me from the emergency room. She had begun crying the day after taking the remedy and had not stopped, which made her scared that something was wrong with her. I explained that crying was pivotal to freeing herself from suffering and that she was now moving toward acceptance. I could hear the smile in her voice even as her tears rolled down.

As time passes and Teresa and her mother move closer to their healing, I pause and wonder if Teresa has averted the passing on of family trauma to the next generation. Only time will tell, but my hopes are high. It is beautiful to see a mother and daughter working on their grief together in unity

The Intergeneration Impact of Trauma

The young field of epigenetics has linked cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and autoimmune conditions in offspring with environmental exposures in the parent. Working with the adult offspring of Holocaust survivors, researcher Rachel Yehuda demonstrated the trans-generational transmission of cortisol dysregulation and the increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those born to mothers who experienced PTSD compared to those born to mothers without PTSD.

This leads me to speculate whether the Holocaust had an epigenetic impact on genes associated with breast cancer and high breast cancer susceptibility in Ashkenazi Jews, and whether the historic trauma of slavery and Jim Crow terror have a role in the higher prevalence of hypertension among African Americans. I watch with interest as research in this field develops.

A Happy Ending

Today I received a call from Elsie, a young woman I saw quite some time ago, who was abandoned as an infant and has since suffered extended abuse. She came to see me for her horrible dysmenorrhea and uncontrollable anger. Staphysagria really moved her case, too. She cried for 6 months and was debilitated by the crying for 3 of them.

Today, she was concerned that her remedy had gotten old sitting in the sun. She hadn’t touched it in months but wondered if she needed a new bottle. Since our visits, Elsie has developed the strength to leave a dead-end job and move to California. She established healthier boundaries in her relationships and began to pursue a vocation as a spiritual healer, living on a ranch and using the healing power of horses. She called me happy, spirited and free. I told her she was fine now and not to worry about needing the remedy at this point. We both laughed in agreement. She has worked through her stages of grief, and my job with her is done. I look forward to the possibility of seeing her healthy children one day.

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