Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End Tribute to Thinking

A tribute to the power of thought will close this eventful year. Lynne McTaggart may get this year's vote as the most innovative author for a revolutionary literary and scientific concept. She writes:

"The Intention Experiment is no ordinary book, and you are no ordinary reader. This is a book without an ending, for I intend for you to help me finish it. You are not only the audience of this book, but also one of its protagonists, the primary participants in cutting edge scientific research. You, quite simply, are about to embark on the largest mind-over-matter experiments in history" (Introduction, xvii.)

If that gets you excited, read on:

"The book you hold in your hands is revolutionary, a groundbreaking exploration of the science of intention. It is also the first book to invite you, the reader, to take an active part in its original research. Drawing on the findings of leading scientists on human consciousness from around the word, The Intention Experiment demonstrates that thought is a thing that affects other things. Thought generates is own palpable energy that you can use to improve your life, to help others around you, and to change the world."

After reading these words on the book flap, I thought to myself that changing the world through the use of directed thought is right in line with the goal of my own blog. But is this a serious book or one of those fru-fru, self-help, dime-a-dozen books that come out by the thousands annually? It wasn't long before I had the answer as I read further:

"The quantum theories developed by Bohr, Heisenberg, and a host of others rocked the very foundation of the Newtonian view of matter as something discrete and self-contained. They suggested that matter at its most fundamental, could not be divided into independently existing units and indeed could not even by fully described. Things have no meaning in isolation; they had meaning only in a web of dynamic interrelationships" (p. xix.)

For the next 200 pages the reader is taken on an adventure that for the uninitiated could prove a challenge to what he or she considers "reality." However, McTaggart meticulously explains in plain layman's English the foundations of this revolutionary science, or rather, a new interpretation of the findings demonstrated previously by quantum physicists.

Most startling to me, who has studied the science of intention for years, was the author's conclusion in the chapter 11 entitled "Praying for Yesterday." Turns out, that several dedicated scientists have come to the conclusion that intention can work backwards and influence things that happened in the past:

"Although our understanding of the mechanism is still primitive, the experimental evidence of time reversal is fairly robust. This research portrays life as one giant, smeared-out here and now, and much of it--past, present and future--is open to our influence at any moment. But that hints at the most unsettling idea of all.
Once constructed, a thought is lit forever" (p. 175.)

This is certainly opposed to the current understanding of the laws of physics that time flows only in on direction. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN spoke of this in its current issue (January 2008) in an article entitled "Making Space for Time." The prestigious New York Academy of Science hosted a scientific conference to grapple with the mystery of how time works. The word mystery gives a hint to the reader that the properties of time are generally unknown and open to interpretation.
Perhaps these ardent conferees might benefit from collaborating with the less "respectable" scientists highlighted in McTaggart's book--actually, the whole world might benefit. Said the SCIEM article:

"On the face of it, time seems pretty simple, like a one-way street: eggs don't unscramble, laugh lines don't vanish (not without Botox anyway), and your grandparents will never be younger than you. But the universe's basic laws appear to be time-symmetrical, meaning they are unaffected by the direction of time from the point of view of physics, and the past, present and future exist simultaneously. . .but scientists can't explain why order lies in the past and disorder in the future. A solution has appeared so elusive that at times it has been regarded as a distraction from more 'respectable' research. . .'It's been very difficult to make progress over the past 20 years, because there hasn't been much new to say' " (p. 26.)

Also enlightening, was the chapter "Hearts That Beat as One." Two novel ideas emerged from these pages. McTaggart writes:

"Most astonishing of all, the heart appeared to receive the information moments before the brain did. This suggested that the body has certain perceptual apparatus that enables it continually to scan and intuit the future, but the heart may hold the largest antenna. After the heart receives the information, it communicates it to the brain."

After I got my mind around that startling admission, McTaggart continues:

"McCraty's [from the Institute of HeartMath] conclusion--that the heart is the largest 'brain' in the body--has now gained credibility after [further] research findings. . .Armour [a scientist from the University of Montreal] discovered neurotransmitters in the heart that signal and influence aspects of higher thought in the brain. McCraty discovered that touch and even mentally focusing the heart cause brain-wave entrainment between people" (pp. 54 - 5.)

The book goes on to say that two people focusing loving thoughts toward one another begin to resonate to the same "tune" or frequency. Although, McTaggart does not say it, the opposite could also be true and probably is, which may explain many of the unenlightening occurrences in human history.

While occasionally, Ms. McTaggart takes leaps in her arguments that seem to defy logic, she concludes her illuminating book with an inarguable message:

"We can no longer view ourselves a isolated from our environment, and our thoughts as private, self-contained workings of an individual brain. Dozens of scientists have produced thousands of papers in the scientific literature offering sound evidence that thoughts are capable of profoundly affecting all aspects of our lives. As observers and creators, we are constantly remaking our world in every instant. Every thought we have, every judgment we hold, however, unconscious, is having an effect. With every moment that it notices, the conscious mind is sending an intention."

If that isn't enough, she goes on to say:

"These revelations force us to rethink not only what it is to be human, but also how to relate. We may have to reconsider the effect of everything that we think, whether we vocalize it or not. Our relationship with the world carries on, even in our silence.. We must also recognize that these ideas are no longer the rumination of a few eccentric individuals. The power of thought underpins many well-respected disciplines in every reach of life. . [thus] we will have to reframe our understanding of our own biology in more miraculous terms. We are only beginning to understand the vast and untapped human potential at our disposal: the human being's extraordinary capacity to influence the world. This potential is every person's birthright, not simply that of the gifted master," (a proposition that would most likely be heralded as a great breakthrough by such a Master.)

And, in keeping with the award winner in yesterday's blog and the hope of a better environmental tomorrow, I found the following the most extraordinary statement of all:

"Our thoughts may be an inexhaustible and simple resource that can be called upon to focus our lives, heal our illnesses, clean up our cities, and improve the planet. We may have the power as communities to improve the quality of our air and water, our crime and accident statistics, the educational level of our children. One well-directed thought may be a gentle yet effective way for men and women on the street to take matters of global interest into their own hands. This knowledge may give us back a sense of individual and collective power, which has been wrested from us largely by the current world view espoused by modern science, which portrays an indifferent universe populated by things that are separate and unengaged. Indeed, an understanding of the power of conscious thought may also bring science closer to religion by offering scientific proof of the intuitive understanding, held by most of us, that to be alive is to be far more than an assemblage of chemicals and electrical signaling" (pp. 194 - 95.)

McTaggart and the scientist she studied might be on to something. Recently,
the city of Atlanta was heading toward imminent disaster because of drought conditions and near-total lack of rainfall in 2007 that left their water supply extremely low. The citizenry was encouraged by their beleaguered, but religious mayor to pray for rain as a last resort to fill their near-empty reservoir. Many snickered at the seemingly light-weight proposition that praying for rain might actually bring a result. However, the national watched as rain did indeed pour down a few days after the invocation and, since then, Atlanta has had several deluges that has brought rain levels back almost to normal for the year, even if not yet filling the reservoir. It cannot be proven, of course, if prayer had an affect; but further studies into the phenomenon of thought generated change are certainly in order.

If this line of thinking has gotten you excited and hopeful for a better tomorrow through the power of directed thought, Lynne McTaggarts book is a must read. In addition, the last chapter explains how readers can involve themselves in her forward-thinking intention experiment. It would be my guess that anyone taking part would be changed for the better and that, in and of itself, changes the world.

Before leaving 2007 behind, I want to mention two other enlightened changes that caught my eye this past week. Although not of the mind-blowing scope mentioned above, these two show that as a society we are moving slowly but surely in a direction of goodness. First is the judgment made in a recent court case involving corporate fraud and tax evasion through a less-than-righteous tax shelter. I was struck by how thoroughly the judge dispelled any belief that what the criminals did was acceptable from the aspect of society at large. Try to picture Judge Marry Ellen Williams making the following pronouncement:

"In sum, this transaction's fictional loss, inability to realize a profit, lack of investment character, meaningless inclusion in a partnership, and disproportionate tax advantage as compared to the amount invested and potential return, compel a conclusion that the spread transaction objectively lacked economic substance" (WSJ, 12-27-07, p. A3.)

Hear, hear, Judge Williams, we applaud you for bringing these hucksters to justice and also give kudos to the legal system which is little by little cleaning up corporate crime, even some of the complicit attorneys involved.

And ever wonder why housing for the poor has to look so, well, institutional? Could it be an unconscious thought by moneyed society that the poor deserve no better because they lack a proper worth ethic or something? I always thought that low-income housing could certainly be as appealing as regular housing if a few good, enlightened architects got their brains around it. Well, WSJ highlighted several cases where this has indeed happened in its article "High Design for Low-Income Housing: Established and Rising Architects Bring Innovation to Affordability:"

"The interest in design comes as affordable housing is increasingly being mixed among middle class and even luxury homes. And as costs have soared in many urban neighborhoods, more communities have adopted 'inclusionary zoning' ordinances that require developers to set aside units for families of modest means" (12-28-07, p. W10.)

NIMBYism plays a huge role in where low-income housing has been situated in the past, but new,enlightened designs, some downright extraordinary, are changing the attitudes of those initially opposed.

And finally, a contribution today from another Observer-in-training:

Freecycle is a global recycling phenomenon. Since it started
in Arizona in May 2003,it has grown to more than 4 million
members in more than 4,100 cities, from Istanbul to Inwood.
It boasts of keeping more than 300 million tons of trash out
of landfills every day and has inspired imitators.

There are, says founder and executive director Deron Beal,
as many heartwarming stories as there are groups: the
American Indian tribe that collected used prom dresses
for girls in need; the Hurricane Katrina evacuee who
furnished a new home;the 98-year-old man who collects
and assembles bicycle parts, then gives what he's built
to children; and the woman in Austin, Texas, who collected
items for an orphanage in Haiti, then got FedEx to deliver
the shipping container for free.

Thought you might enjoy...
Freecycle turns trash to treasure-Yahoo! News us/

As more and more people envision a lighted tomorrow, the
faster humanity will move in that illuminated direction.
Have a happy new year and may blessings rain down
upon you in 2008!

1 comment:

H. said...

I found your transitions a bit confusing. Couldn't tell where you left off and the authors you quote start. Please help. PS I thought you might enjoy "The Intention Experiment." If readers liked what they saw, they might also enjoy the books explaining the Einstein-Bose Condensate as it relates to consciousness by Zohar.