Archive for June, 2016


Source: Consciousness Awakening by Ralph Buckley/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality” -Carl Sagan

It appears that we are approaching a unique time in the history of man and science where empirical measures and deductive reasoning can actually inform us spiritually. Integrated Information Theory (IIT)—put forth by neuroscientists Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch—is a new framework that describes a way to experimentally measure the extent to which a system is conscious.

As such, it has the potential to answer questions that once seemed impossible, like “which is more conscious, a bat or a beetle?” Furthermore, the theory posits that any system that processes and integrates information, be it organic or inorganic, experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, smartphones, the Internet—even protons—are all examples of such systems. The result is a cosmos composed of a sentient fabric. But before getting into the bizarreness of all that, let’s talk a little about how we got to this point.

The decline and demise of the mystical

As more of the natural world is described objectively and empirically, belief in the existence of anything that defies current scientific explanation is fading at a faster rate than ever before. The majority of college-educated individuals no longer accept the supernatural and magical accounts of physical processes given by religious holy books. Nor do they believe in the actuality of mystical realms beyond life that offer eternal bliss or infinite punishment for the “souls” of righteous or evil men.

This is because modern science has achieved impeccable performance when it comes to explaining phenomena previously thought to be unexplainable. In this day and age, we have complete scientific descriptions of virtually everything. We understand what gives rise to vacuous black holes and their spacetime geometries. We know how new species of life can evolve and the statistical rules that govern such processes. We even have a pretty good understanding of the exact moment in which the universe, and thus of all reality, came into existence! But no serious and informed scientist will tell you that at present we fully understand the thing each of us knows best. That is, our own consciousness.

One of science’s last greatest mysteries

Although we’ve come along way since the time of Descartes, who postulated that consciousness was actually some immaterial spirit not subject to physical law, we still don’t have a complete and satisfactory account of the science underlying experience. We simply don’t know how to quantify it. And if we can’t do that, how do we know whether those non-human life forms that are unable to communicate with us are also conscious? Does it feel like anything to be a cat? Most will probably agree that it does, but how about a ladybug? If so, how can we know which life forms are more conscious than others? Do animals that show impressively intelligent behavior and elaborate memory, like dolphins or crows, experience the world in a unified conscious fashion as we do? These questions are almost impossible to answer without a way to measure consciousness. Fortunately, a neuroscientific theory that has been gaining popular acceptance aims to do just that.

Integrated Information Theory to the Rescue

Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which has become quite a hot topic in contemporary neuroscience, claims to provide a precise way to measure consciousness and express the phenomenon in purely mathematical terms. The theory was put forth by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi, and has attracted some highly regarded names in the science community. One such name is Christof Koch, Chief Scientific Officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who now champions the idea along with Tononi. Koch may be best-known for bringing consciousness research into the mainstream of neuroscience through his long-term collaboration with the late DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick. Now Tononi and Koch are actively researching the theory along with an increasing number of scientists, some from outside the field of neuroscience like esteemed physicist and popular author Max Tegmark, who is joining the ranks of those who believe they’ve figured out how to reduce one of science’s greatest secrets to numbers. Bits of information to be exact.

Okay, so we now know that the theory is kind of a big deal to notable scientists. But how exactly does IIT attempt to quantify something as ill-defined and seemingly elusive as consciousness?

IIT in a nutshell

Just like a computer, the brain stores and processes information. But it is how that information is shared throughout the brain network that gives rise to our rich and vivid conscious experience. Let’s consider the act of observing a sunset. Thanks to advances in brain imaging, modern neuroscience tells us that there are a number of different and distinct regions active during this event, each of which process information about different features of that event separately. There’s a region in the visual cortex (known as “V2”) that processes the form and color of the yellow and orange sunrays against the clouds. There are auditory areas in the temporal lobe being fed information about the sound of the wind rushing past you as you stare off into the horizon. That rushing wind against your skin also generates patterns of electrical signals in the somatosensory cortex that create a sense of touch. There are many different things going on in distant places.

Yet somehow we perceive it all as one unified conscious experience.

According to IIT, this unified experience relies on the brain’s ability to fuse together (or integrate) all that incoming sensory information as a whole. To measure the degree of integration, Tononi has taken mathematical principles formulated by American engineer Claude Shannon, who developed a scientific theory of information midway through the 20th century to describe data transmission, and applied them to the brain. IIT claims that these information measures allow one to calculate an exact number that represents the degree of integrated information that exists in a brain at any given moment. Tononi chooses to call this metric “Phi” (or Φ), which serves as an index for consciousness. The greater the Phi, the more conscious the system. It need not matter whether it’s the nervous system of a child, or a cat, or even a ladybug.

Problem solved?

Sounds simple and straightforward enough, doesn’t it? Isn’t this what science has strived to do all along? To describe things objectively and strip away all mystery from foggily understood natural phenomena? Could this be the solution to demystifying consciousness, the thing philosophers have been battling over for centuries? It may certainly answer some very important questions, but when you follow the theory to its logical conclusions, things get pretty weird, and also, well, kind of neat. But before we get to the weird conclusions let’s start with the weird questions, which have essentially been ignored by modern physical science, and at first ponder may even seem unremarkable.

Some hard questions

How can physical processing create inner, subjective experience?

How can matter possess first person perspective?

How can mere electrical signals produce qualitative sensation and awareness?

Why should information “feel” like anything in the first place?

These questions are functionally synonymous and define what philosophers have dubbed the “hard problem of consciousness,” a concept that many neuroscientists have embraced. Conversely, the “easy problem” (although it is also extremely difficult) is figuring out all the computational and cognitive mechanisms underlying consciousness, which is categorically different from describing experience. Previously, science has only concentrated on solving those questions related to the “easy problem of consciousness.” Some still believe that questions about subjective experience can’t be answered quantitatively, and are therefore only appropriate topics for philosophy. Others handle the situation by refusing to acknowledge the existence of consciousness altogether! However, the truth of consciousness is self-evident, and denying it is equivalent to denying one’s own existence. IIT is unique in that it recognizes consciousness as a real phenomenon that can be described objectively and mathematically.

But does IIT really address the “hard problem of consciousness,” i.e., how subjective experience arises from the physical?

The answer is not quite.

The brain stores and processes information, but how and why that information takes on the characteristic of “feeling like something” is left unexplained. IIT tells us how to measure the degree of consciousness (Phi or Φ), but does not tell us how different types of information acquire different subjective sensations, like the feel of a burning flame or an orgasm. As stated by philosopher Ned Block, it may be that Phi is correlated with consciousness, but does not play a role in its cause.

So how do proponents of Integrated Information Theory attempt to explain subjective experience?

Christof Koch’s answer: Consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe. Wherever there is integrated information, there is experience. The theory takes its existence as a given and therefore doesn’t have to explain the mechanism behind it. It’s just a fact of nature that information has an inner side in addition to its bit-composed outer side.

Let’s follow the logic of this idea and see how it holds up. We know that certain brain states feel like something. Brain states are just information states. Therefore, information feels like something. Sounds pretty solid. Under IIT, lower mammals like cats have conscious experience, as do insects, even if only to some miniscule degree. Such an idea would seem intuitive. Why should there be some magical point at which a nervous system spontaneously turns conscious, like a switch had been suddenly flipped? It is more likely that a continuum of experience exists along a gradient, going from the very simple, raw sensations of single-celled organisms to the more complex qualitative awareness of the human sort. But what about non-biological systems that integrate information?

Things start to get weird

What’s interesting about IIT is that it doesn’t require that a conscious entity be a living organism. Any system that can integrate information, whether it be carbon-based or composed of silicon chips and metal wires, should produce conscious states. As information processors, modern computers possess some amount of experience, but presumably so little that it may be undetectable by human observers. In fact, according to IIT, it actually feels like something to be your iPhone. This should please artificial intelligence researchers who often long for their creations to someday be “alive”. In our technology driven world, IIT says that consciousness is both in our homes and in our hands.

Although all of this may seem pretty strange, the idea that machines can be conscious might not be entirely unfathomable, especially given the amount of science fiction that has instilled visions of self-aware robots into our psyche. Is this as far as the theory goes?

Nope.

If you are very clever (or perhaps very high), then upon reading the above you may have briefly considered the following question in some form or another. Aren’t humans always exchanging information through a global network of interconnected computers that collectively store and integrate information in some complex fashion? Let’s follow IIT down the rabbit hole.

The Internet wakes up

If we are to take IIT seriously, we must accept that a system such as the Internet can possess conscious states like that of a biological nervous system, as so long as information is being integrated in a similar fashion. This possibility has been explored by Christof Koch himself:

Consider humankind’s largest and most complex artifact, the Internet. It consists of billions of computers linked together using optical fibers and copper cables that rapidly instantiate specific connections using ultrafast communication protocols. Each of these processors in turn is made out of a few billion transistors. Taken as a whole, the Internet has perhaps 10^19 transistors, about the number of synapses in the brains of 10,000 people. Thus, its sheer number of components exceeds that of any one human brain. Whether or not the Internet today feels like something to itself is completely speculative. Still, it is certainly conceivable.

However, at the current time it seems highly unlikely that the Internet possesses the level of first-person experience as do you or I. Our brains have been shaped by evolution over millions of years in ways that have developed and refined its information-processing capabilities. But still, the potential for a self-aware World Wide Web is surely there.

An information-based collective consciousness

That’s right. The theory allows for the emergence of an abstract “superorganism” that is composed of many individual organisms. Many puzzling questions are to follow. If the web were to “wake up,” so to speak, would it exhibit apparent forms of observable unified and coordinated behavior? Or would we simply be an unknowing unit in a larger system in the same way a neuron is unaware of its contribution to a mental state? It’s not only fun to entertain the idea of a living entity that would possess essentially all the knowledge accumulated by humanity, but also scientifically productive.

In theory, there’s almost no limit to how large a fully conscious system can grow and evolve in space. It is bound only by the rate of information and complexity growth, which we have seen tends to increase exponentially.

So far we’ve discussed consciousness that can span large distances with no palpable physical structure. But what about arrangements of information that are too small for the eye to see?

Protons that feel

IIT says that anything with a non-zero Phi has subjective experience. This includes subatomic particles. Koch writes:

Even simple matter has a modicum of Φ [integrated information]. Protons and neutrons consist of a triad of quarks that are never observed in isolation. They constitute an infinitesimal integrated system.

This has profound consequences. It would mean that consciousness is spread throughout space like a cosmic web of experience. Of course awareness is greatest where there is significant information integration, but in essence, “mind” (or “psyche”) is everywhere. IIT turns out to be a modern twist on an ancient philosophical view known as “panpsychism.” But before you go dismissing the concept because of its name, you should know that intellectual heavy hitters such as Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and William James are all considered panpsychists. Its central tenant is that all matter has a mental aspect, which makes consciousness universal. Koch goes on:

The entire cosmos is suffused with sentience. We are surrounded and immersed in consciousness; it is in the air we breathe, the soil we tread on, the bacteria that colonize our intestines, and the brain that enables us to think.

A new spirituality constrained by science

So far, Integrated Information Theory is the best candidate for a scientific doctrine that provides an objective description of consciousness. As such, it deserves that we consider the possibility of such seemingly radical ideas. Pondering questions previously deemed appropriate only for pot-smoking college dorm-dwellers is now a task for the best and brightest scientific minds. Most rational thinkers will agree that the idea of a personal god who gets angry when we masturbate and routinely disrupts the laws of physics upon prayer is utterly ridiculous. This theory doesn’t give credence to anything of the sort. It simply reveals an underlying harmony in nature, and a sweeping mental presence that isn’t confined to biological systems. IIT’s inevitable logical conclusions and philosophical implications are both elegant and precise. What it yields is a new kind of scientific spirituality that paints a picture of a soulful existence that even the most diehard materialist or devout atheist can unashamedly get behind.

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.”—Albert Einstein

Bobby Azarian Ph.D.
Mind In The Machine

Bobby Azarian, Ph.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist and science writer in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Published on Jan 8, 2016

Dean speaks about psi and consciousness research at the IONS 2015 Conference.


Published on Jun 29, 2016

This excerpt contains the following questions:
1. Does the Guru know who his disciples will be?
2. What to do if one no longer finds his job fulfilling?
3. Some say that consciousness recognized itself through the other. Please explain.
4. Please define apperception.
5. How to realize my awareness is the same as everyone else.
6. Is perception creation?
7. What happens when the body is under anesthesia?
8. Can there be seeing without a seer?
9. How can love be spoken of if there is meaninglessness?

2016 05 01 dialogue with Francis Lucille in Temecula, CA 5


Published on Jun 29, 2016
Deepak Chopra – How to manage anger

Deepak Chopra is an Indian American public speaker, and writer on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine. Chopra began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine. Chopra was a top assistant to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before launching his own career in the late 1980s by publishing self-help books on New Age spirituality and alternative medicine.


Doreen Virtue is a spiritual doctor of psychology and a fourth-generation metaphysician who works with the angelic, elemental, and ascended-master realms in her writings and workshops. Doreen is the author of more than 20 books about angels, chakras, Crystal Children, Indigo Children, health and diet, and other mind-body-spirit issues, including the best-selling Healing with the Angels and Messages from Your Angels books/angel cards.

Doreen, who holds B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in counseling psychology, was the founder and former director of WomanKind Psychiatric Hospital at Cumberland Hall Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. She was also an administrator at Woodside Women’s Hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both all-women psychiatric hospitals specialized in treating women’s psychological issues. Doreen also directed three outpatient psychiatric centers, including an adolescent drug and alcohol abuse center.

As a child, Doreen was a natural clairvoyant, seeing and conversing with what many people call “invisible friends.” But this natural gift and ability was little understood by the young Doreen and her family, and was the cause of teasing by her friends. Consequently, Doreen learned to deny her abilities, effectively shutting them down before she was mature enough to fully appreciate them. But on July 15, 1995, Doreen’s personal life and her career, marked by exemplary but conventional success, would be irrevocably altered by an incident that is nothing short of miraculous.

Doreen had been ignoring her angels’ guidance to become a teacher of mind-body-spirit issues, so when an angel warned Doreen that her car was going to be stolen on that fateful July afternoon, Doreen ignored him. After all, her habit of arguing with and ignoring the angels was deeply ingrained by then. Despite this, the angel did not abandon Doreen in her most dire moment—as she was parking, two armed men, intent on a carjacking, brandished weapons and physically accosted the unsuspecting Doreen. The voice spoke to her again—it was loud, distinctly male, and it instructed her to scream with all her might. This time she listened, and her life was saved by passers-by who became alarmed and sent her attackers running.

Doreen immediately began a daily rigorous practice of receiving and deciphering her Divine Guidance. Simultaneously, she was reexamining her spiritual beliefs, along with her Western psychological beliefs, the end result being twofold: Doreen was guided to look at psychology from a whole new perspective, and her natural clairvoyance rapidly returned with the same clarity and strength of her childhood experiences. Dr. Virtue’s practice then naturally evolved into “Angel Therapy,” in which she combined her background in psychology with her spiritual abilities.

Today, Doreen is known around the world for her connection with the realm of the angels. She has devoted her lifework to teaching us all how to clearly hear the messages from our angels. “When you work with angels, you can lean upon their light to help you heal at miraculous rates and in amazing ways. The angels can help us heal physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially.”

She conducts experiential workshops on spiritual psychological issues worldwide. Many of her students are medical and psychological professionals, including M.D.’s, R.N.’s, psychologists, and social workers.

Doreen conducts a call-in online radio show on Hay House Radio. For specific shows schedules and more information, visit Hay House Radio.

A frequent talk-show guest with appearances on Oprah, CNN, Good Morning America, The View with Barbara Walters, Donny & Marie, Roseanne, and other national programs, Doreen is also a columnist for several monthly publications. Magazines and newspapers that have featured her work include McCall’s, TV Guide, Woman’s Day, First for Women, Vegetarian Times, Lotus, Woman’s World, Miracles, Bridal Trends, USA. Today, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, Men’s Fitness, Shape, and The Denver Post.

Among Doreen’s most recent works include: the Connecting with Your Angels Kit, to assist you in getting to know and understand your angels; and the Angel Medicine book, where she demonstrates how to heal the body and mind with the help of the angels.

“The angels are with us as a gift from our Creator, and their aim is to establish peace on Earth, one person at a time. Working wing-in-hand with the angels, I believe that this goal is possible. May your inner light burn brightly today, and all the days to come.”

http://www.angeltherapy.com/about.php


Published on Jun 28, 2016

David Godman has lived in India since 1976, mostly in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. He spent his time there studying and practising the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. His anthology of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings, Be As You Are, is probably the most widely read book on Sri Ramana’s teachings. During his fourteen-year stay at Ramanasramam (1978-92) he managed the ashram’s library, catalogued its archives, and recorded the stories and experiences of devotees who had had direct contact with Sri Ramana.

David is the authorized biographer of two devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Lakshmana Swamy and Papaji) who realized the Self in Sri Ramana’s presence and who later went on to become gurus themselves.

He has written and published several other books that contain first-person accounts of devotees who moved closely with Sri Ramana Maharshi and who were transformed by his power and presence.

In collaboration with two Tamil scholars, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and Robert Butler, he translated and edited several Tamil texts including two authoritative collections of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings that were originally recorded in Tamil verse. The three of them also joined forces to bring out Sorupa Saram, a translation of a text in which a 15th century Tamil saint and Guru, Sorupananda, speaks authoritatively of his experience of the Self. Earlier this year David and T. V. Venkatasubramanian completed a new book that will be entitled The Shining of my Lord. It will contain translations of Tamil verses by Muruganar, an enlightened devotee of Ramana Maharshi who wrote thousands of verses in which he praised his Guru, spoke of his own liberated state and thanked Sri Ramana for bestowing it on him. It will be published later this year.

In the 1970s David frequented Nisargadatta Maharaj’s satsangs in Mumbai. In the 1980s he was a regular visitor to the ashram of Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma in Andhra Pradesh. When they moved to Tiruvannamalai in the early 1990s, he helped them to establish and landscape their new property at the foot of Arunachala, the holy mountain where Sri Ramana Maharshi spent all his adult life. For four years in the 1990s he lived with Papaji in Lucknow and ended up writing or editing five books about him.

Last year David released a series twenty-seven films on Youtube in which he spoke about Ramana Maharshi, the places where he stayed, his devotees and his teachings. The series contains about fifteen hours of talks about Sri Ramana and can be found here:

Books: Be as You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Compass) No mind, I am the self: The lives and teachings of Sri Lakshmana Swamy and Mathru Sri Sarada Living By the Words of Bhagavan: a biography of Annamalai Swami, a close devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi Papaji Interviews: an anthology of interviews that Papaji gave to foreign visitors in the early 1990s Nothing Ever Happened(three volumes): a 1,200-page biography of H. W. L. Poonja, also known as ‘Papaji’. Final Talks – Annamalai Swami– teaching dialogues between Annamalai Swami and visitors to his ashram, recorded in the last six months of his life.

The Power of the Presence (Part One)(three volumes): chapter-long accounts by devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi that record their experiences of living with and being transformed him. The Power of the Presence (Part Two) The Power of the Presence (Part Three) Padamalai: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi: Recorded by Muruganar Ramana Puranam– an edited and annotated 540-line poem that was jointly composed by Ramana Maharshi and Muruganar.

The Fire of Freedom, Satsang with Papaji (The Fire of Freedom, Volume 1)– dialogues between Papaji and visitors that took place in his Lucknow home in 1991. Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Garland of Guru’s Sayings)– a translation of 1,254 verses, recorded in Tamil by Muruganar, that record Ramana Maharshi’s teachings. Website: http://www.davidgodman.org Blog: http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBcq…

Source: Valentina Photos/Shutterstock


Enlightenment. The E word. The state of consciousness all spiritual seekers hope for. And yet wishing for enlightenment is a wonderfully paradoxical experience: craving the state of non-craving, trying for effortlessness. There is something fascinating about this conflict between “wanting” and the way it nullifies the state of enlightenment. And yet enlightenment is achievable, and it is much closer to us than we might imagine.

To realise how we could achieve it, we need to begin with an understanding of what is enlightenment. The concept of spiritual enlightenment is among the spiritual concepts that are most frequently contemplated, and often awakens controversy. An enlightened way of being represents the essence of spiritual transcendence. It means living a life in which analysis by the mind is continuously transcended, evading any interference. An enlightened existence means oneness with experiences, devoid of any duality, where the self is known to be an illusion, and life is experienced completely independently of it.

This state has been given different names. It is referred to, for example, as the state of Nirvana, Unity Consciousness, Samadhi, Awakening, and Enlightenment. Whatever name is used, what matters is that it is regarded as a state of freedom from the tyranny of the mind and the illusion of the self.

Do you remember yourself as a child? You were basically fearless, intrinsically willing to say “yes” to the adventure of life. At that time you had an incredible ability to let go of any difficulty, you were able to move smoothly from one experience to another because you never identified your self with any of them. We often see two children fight as if they were the worst enemies on earth, and a minute later they play together as if they were the greatest friends. This demonstrates the ability of children to switch effortlessly from one moment to the next without emotional response. Each moment is tackled separately and completely as a whole. This is a wonderful manifestation of the state of enlightenment.

We are all born enlightened; as years go by we keep accumulating self concepts, and slowly move away from that primary innocence, from the deep feeling that life could be anything and everything. With every bit of conditioning our experience of life, which originally embraced whatever came its way, slowly shrinks to accommodate the limitations of our own mind and self. For some of us this may begin earlier than for others, and the rate of accumulation and conditioning is individual. But this learning process is inescapable, and we unavoidably move away from our original state of enlightenment and enter a state of illusion.

I say that this process is inescapable as it is truly impossible to avoid this conditioning at a very young age. In many ways, the entire spiritual journey is based upon that learning and conditioning – because at a certain point along the way, you begin the process of unlearning. This may happen at different points in life, at different ages, and for a variety of reasons, but the connecting thread is the deep feeling that “I am not experiencing life’s gifts in full”. This is a nagging feeling that tells you that you have lost what you once had as a young child. You have awakened to the fact that your life has been incomplete. Something within you is inviting you to recall your awareness and return home, to let go of illusion and pretence, and regain your original state. This is when the journey of unlearning begins; the journey whereby you strip yourself of the layers in which you have been wrapped, like an onion, to reveal, at the end, your authentic self, the state of enlightenment.

This idea is tremendously challenging. You might be thinking: “Nothing? I am nothing? How could that be?” And yet remember that this nothingness was the foundation of freedom during childhood. Back then, free of definitions and expectations, you experienced life as an adventure. By engaging with spirituality, meditation, and self-awareness, you will have begun your process of unlearning, whether you recognise it or not. And this is our path towards freedom – this is enlightenment.

How Does Enlightenment Feel?

At certain moments you experience transcendence, and catch a glimpse of life as it is. These moments occur when, for some reason, there is a break in the ongoing activity of your mind. When this activity stops, for a brief moment you experience something completely different. This could occur under various circumstances: Deep meditation, extreme shock, an orgasm, the influence of a drug, or an amazingly beautiful natural phenomenon. All these moments have one thing in common: They bring your mind’s activity to a halt, they press the “pause” button for a while.

Source: Agsandrew/Shutterstock


What do you feel when this happens? Imagine that underneath the never-ending commentary of the mind, underneath all the layers of the Ego Formed Self, runs an undercurrent. This undercurrent is filled with feelings of unconditional love, peace, compassion, and joy. And this undercurrent is constantly calling you, with every breath you take. It is vibrating inside you, because it is who you really are. It is an inner call to return home, to the point where you started and where you will end.

Your Ego Formed Self and its ego concepts form a thick layer that makes it very difficult for you to experience that undercurrent under regular circumstances. To break through the thick layer of the mind and dip in these waters you actually need those rare moments. Have you ever found yourself filled with love or joy or peace that was so immense you almost could not contain it? That was a moment of connection to the source, to the undercurrent, to your Authentic Self; a moment of enlightenment. And the beauty of it is that it may happen suddenly and unexpectedly. You could be standing on the top of a mountain, watching the horizon, or standing on the beach watching the waves, and suddenly something clicks; you stop thinking and come in touch with your Authentic Self. You become one with this amazing, deep, acceptance and joy, knowing deep within that everything is perfectly fine, has always been, and will always be.

A few heartbeats later, the mental noise that gave in for a moment regains control over your awareness and tears your awareness away from the connection to the undercurrent.

Enlightenment is Impermanent

One of the myths around enlightenment is that it is a durable experience that never changes. In reality, our awareness fluctuates; it is as impermanent as anything else. Note that the experience of enlightenment as a way of being does not change; it is always there, waiting for your awareness. As you practice meditation and keep growing, your awareness will extend and grow more consistent, yet it will continue to fluctuate. This means that your connection with the enlightened space, the Authentic Self, will also be subject to change.

During my years of travelling and spiritual practice I have met many individuals who have experienced enlightenment to varying extents. Some of the spiritual teachers I have met could even maintain that connection for long periods of time. And yet, I have never met individuals who experienced a steady, never-ending, enlightened state, where analysis by the mind never interferes at any point. We are human; it is no coincidence that we are born into the challenges of a body and a mind. Had we been meant to be pure spirits or entities of energy, we would have surely been embodied differently, and not be continuously challenged by our mind and body.

We all contend with difficulties implanted within us: anger, frustration, jealousy, pain, sometimes even joy brings discomfort. Spirituality does not resolve these difficulties. Frequently, the spiritual journey will take you even deeper into these feelings of discomfort. This is the meaning of being human. On your path towards enlightenment you will have to engage with such experiences. These challenges, which some might see as limitations, are the reason we are here.

Our lives revolve around learning to live with, accept and relate to all that we are, including what we perceive as our personal limitations. We are not here to be perfect (whatever that means for you); we are here to deal with what we define as our imperfections and briefly touch the enlightened undercurrent as we transform. This transformation cannot be labelled. When we try to label it we fall into the trap of expectations and ego concepts. If you make enlightenment your benchmark, frustration will be your constant companion. Let go of seeking that enlightenment and you will feel great relief and freedom. It is the celebration of your liberation from ego concepts and expectations.

I frequently observe spiritual seekers get deeply frustrated because they are not enlightened after many years of hard work. They are unable to recognise how entrapped they are in their own needs and concepts. Imagine the enlightened space as a road sign that indicates you have come in touch with your Authentic Self, and have been blessed with a glimpse of the experience of it. It does not matter if you reconnect to it next in a moment or in another lifetime. All you can do is continue your spiritual work here and now. And the freer this work is of expectations for enlightenment, the simpler you will find it to transform and grow.

Dear Human

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty. ~ Courtney A. Walsh

Dr. Itai Ivtzan is a positive psychologist and a senior lecturer at the University of East London. His work is focusing on Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, and Spirituality. You can find his workshops, books, and scientific work on his website: http://www.awarenessisfreedom.com/

His online Meditation Teacher Training offers an in-depth discussion and practice of meditation and mindfulness, including the topics debated in this article.

In the search for truth, there is only one question that needs to be answered: Who am I? This inquiry into the self is the core of advaita vedanta (radical nondualism) a timeless teaching for breaking free of mental bonds and reclaiming your true identity: the Infinite that is beyond death.

On Who Are You? American-born spiritual teacher Gangaji spells out the bedrock principles of self-inquiry a cluster of no-nonsense concepts that reveal how to effortlessly step outside limited psychological conditioning and mental constructs into the freedom, expansiveness, and peace of your own true nature.

~ Namasté ~

Interview conducted by Premananda in Tamil Nadu, India

Photo by Ed-Gordeev

There is only one ‘reality’ which has no cause and that is the ‘eternal now’, the timeless Absolute (see also my article mentioned in the first paragraph).

Although the understanding of the Absolute lies beyond our mind, experiencing the Absolute is possible. For thousands of years all kinds of mystics, saints or seers have witnessed of an absolute, unchanging primal cause of life. Whether this primal cause was pointed at as God, Allah, Brahman, Nirvana or another religious concept, all names refer to the same, unnamable, absolute, primal cause of life (if not, it cannot be the first cause).

Our ‘relationship’ with the primal cause can be made clear as follows: whatever object we see, we see its form but actually it is the material from which it has been made (a jewel is gold, a table wood, a shirt cotton etc.). Likewise all living creatures are ‘made from’ the Absolute, although our normal consciousness is only aware of the form and not of the formless Absolute itself.
The message of the seers from all times in this context is: ‘in becoming aware of what you really are your mind finds peace and fulfillment’.

That is the happiness of non-duality that all people are looking for, that is what life makes worth living and that is also in which our ethical consciousness is rooted.

In what way can people come to the realization of their oneness with the Absolute
Through the ages developed a huge ‘road map’ with information on how we should live to become more religious, spiritual or even enlightened.

Since ‘becoming aware of what we really are’ is our goal, direct self-enquiry seems the most obvious (as thought by the sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, 1879 – 1950). However, for most of us our life is too restless to accomplish this road (as demonstrated by ‘travelers’ who claim that there is ‘nothing to be found’).

Although everyone basically has to find his own way, I think that it is possible to map out a general ‘GPS’ road system against which all individual paths can be tested.

Please consider the following four stages. In my opinion these can be valuable to you for the rest of your life.

1. Exploring Reality
As I said before: all evil (‘sin’) comes from man´s egoism. When we want to grow spiritually we should contemplate questions like: How is life meant to be? How should we live together? How should we treat our planet?

The challenge is to dive deep into your mind and to become aware of those aspects of your life where your self interest is contrary to the spiritual laws which sustain life. What is meant by ‘spiritual laws which sustain life’ is up to you to discover (if needed, see my book Initiation into Reality).

Raising your children as good as you can is in harmony with these laws, to cheat other people isn´t.
Turning away from people in need is not, commitment to socially responsible entrepreneurship is.
Accepting natural death as a fact of life is, violence in the name of God is not. And so on…

The meaning of ‘Exploring Reality’ is therefore: find out in what way you should change your life to be able to live in harmony with the life sustaining primal cause (Reality) as much as possible.
The ancient sages of India called this: adapting to Dharma (Sanskrit: Dhr means to sustain, Ma means primal cause).

2. Living by Reality
Thinking right and doing right are not always the same. When you start to understand the spiritual laws which sustain life (eternity sustaining temporality by love, strength, awareness and spirituality), you should start to seriously apply these laws in your life.

This means ending living from the ego (unconsciously following everything that comes into your mind) and doing ‘what is right’ as much as possible.

Not for a day or for a week, but hopefully you will gradually succeed to stick to what is right (living by Reality) for the rest of your life. Or: to make your Karma (Sanskrit: making your actions Kar, in harmony with Ma, the primal cause).

3. Surrender to Reality
In the beginning the transformation from living by the ego to living by what is right may look difficult. So many ‘egos’ all around and nobody seems to care about how life is meant to be. At this stage of spiritual growth a form of meditation should be added. In general it is sufficient to keep a daily half-hour just for yourself (yes, every day). I cannot give a meditation course here, but the point is that your daily ‘going to yourself’ gradually brings you to surrendering to …..(your assumed Reality).
You`ll come to realize that you don´t have to carry the load of your ego all by yourself, but that you are part of an infinite ‘presence’ that supports you.

Or: you will develop Bhakti (Sanskrit: Bhaj is to partake in, leading to love, surrender and devotion to…..).

4. Realizing Reality
Daily meditation will calm down your mind gradually. You will realize that with ‘ego’ not the sense of ‘I’ is meant, but that ego is the ‘cloud of thoughts’ that covers the brightness of your ‘inner sun of Self behind that cloud’.

If you’ve come this far, the road is clear. You will train yourself to be Self-aware as much as possible.
One day this will lead to the gracious realization that your Self and the infinite (Absolute) to which you surrendered yourself are one.

This is the realization of Reality which is meant in Advaita, non-duality.

The meaning of religion

Although the term religion refers to ‘re-connect’ (Latin re-ligare, like Sanskrit Yoga, to join, to yoke), long ago the dualistic religions (Christianity and Islam) made religion something one has to believe in.
This dis-connection from the Absolute (Reality) is of an ‘importance beyond our comprehension’, as said before. It has resulted in world wars, terror, abuse of our planet etc. (by complete loss of knowledge of non-duality).

The most important thing that matters in religion should be: how can I come to understand life and my place in it?

In experiencing the right answers (such as: life is an expression of the Absolute and becoming my Self gives peace of mind, happiness) people find wisdom and the possibility to express the Absolute in the world (or in symbolic, religious terms: to live in accordance with the will of God).

Obviously religion does not give the right, understandable answers anymore. It is not belief (hope) that we need, it is understanding that we highly need.

In my book ‘Initiation into Reality’ I made some suggestions for each of the great world religions on how they could make their ‘inner treasures’ more accessible to people of our time (see Epilogue).

Obviously I have no illusions that my suggestions will ‘change the world’, but what I do know is that if (western) religion is not able to integrate true spirituality in their message, it will fade out eventually.

Looking forward
In my opinion it is very sad that religion seems to have lost the knowledge about ‘God’.
On the other hand, we see that spirituality is developing more and more outside the religious institutions.

How re-ligious (uniting) is this spirituality actually? Hard to say, but fortunately the spiritual quest is still relevant. Could it be possible that one day religion and spirituality will merge?
I hope this will be the case, not in the last place because of the world religions´ ‘infrastructure’ (as a means to spread the redeeming message of non-duality).

In relation to this I would make an urgent appeal to all spiritual people:
Please contemplate the ancient message of non-duality and see how you can serve ‘that which sustains life…..’

Source: Science and Non Duality

photo by Ed Gordeev

What is meant by the term ‘Non-Duality’
Non-duality is the translation of the Sanskrit word Advaita (a-dvaita). This refers to the ancient Hindu philosophy called Advaita Vedanta, the essence of which is: creation and creator are one (not two).

For thousands of years and in all great cultures this essence has been the deepest universal incentive for people to express their religious feelings, as we know these in many different ways and in varying degrees of comprehensibility. In this context I recommend you to read my article: Truth Will Set You Free: Time Does Not Exist.

Today so many people are talking about non-duality that it seems that everyone understands that he is ‘united with his creator for ever’. But unfortunately, that´s not the case. Even worse, I have the impression that most of today´s non-dualists believe ‘non-duality’ just to be a philosophy of the ‘fundamental unity of all existence’.

Although not wrong, this is much too simple and misses completely the depth of the message. Do you really think that the secret of non-duality has been passed on (orally) as spiritual inspiration for thousands of years, only to teach people that ‘all are one?’

What is needed is the realization of the unity of man and his origin (the thought that there is no origin does not hold, because nothing can appear from nothing).

There have always been people who felt the urge to testify and to teach about the ‘Truth’ they had dis-covered. In the ancient days it was the ‘rishi´s’ (sages of India) who taught about the unity between man and his origin (called Brahman in Hinduism) as later Buddha did (without mentioning a primal cause). Later again it was Jesus Christ who testified that he and his father (God, meaning origin ) are one.

In spite of these seers the meaning of their message seems to be lost in our society. In relation with Christianity in this context, in the article mentioned above I explained this further and I also said: ‘The consequences of the omitting of the incentive for people to realize the timeless themselves are of an importance beyond our comprehension’.

And yes, so it is. I think that the fact that man (‘the world’) is not aware of his oneness with his origin anymore, is in the end the cause of the critical situation our world is in today.
Why???

Why is it so sad that people are not aware of their oneness with their origin

Living without knowing the divine womb where we all came from allows our mind to identify with visible phenomena only, which causes uncertainty (to be or not to be) and thus egoism, the original sin.
As you will understand: the imbalance between selfish and selfless behavior during human history has finally resulted in the vulnerable condition our civilization is in today.

It may look strange that the lack of knowledge of the Absolute (as the source of life) is ultimately the cause of all misery in the world. But it is, because where man has potentially the ability of realizing himself to be created in ‘God`s image’, he stays fundamentally unhappy as long as this spiritual destiny has not been fulfilled. And this exactly is the reason for his endless suffering, foolishness and egoism.

In said article I ‘accused’ Christianity to be responsible for straying from the vision of unity with our creator (discouraging people to think for themselves, denial of the possibility to know ‘God’ etc.).

In relation to this I also said: ‘Where religion should touch a man in the very depth of his being (in the euphoria of experiencing unity with the radiant and inexhaustible source of life) a superficial notion of profound teachings remains.

Not only can this lead to doubt and rejection, but also our deeply hidden ethical consciousness (which wants us to act and to be in harmony with the timeless which has become us) is not or insufficiently touched.’

It would not be difficult to fill an encyclopedia with all the ‘things which went wrong’ because of man´s incompetence to live by their ethical consciousness. Everyone will understand what I mean by this.

The points that I want to make in this context are:

– how to make it understandable that it is indeed non-duality which all people are looking for
– in what way can people come to the realization of their oneness with the Absolute
– the meaning of religion
– looking forward

How to make it understandable that it is indeed non-duality which all people are looking for
Of all forms of life only we as humans are striving for happiness. I mean, animals are totally conditioned by their instincts. We are partially and have some ‘free will’ left which we can use to fill in our own life. It is up to us whether this free will is a blessing or a disaster (in this context ignoring internal and external influences).

In the first sentence of the previous paragraph I said that our identifying with ‘visible phenomena only’ is the cause of egoism, which I consider to be our original sin. To understand this please consider the following: generally speaking we are not familiar with meditation, which means that we identify with all impressions which enter our mind, from outside or from within. This identifying with our daily reality of transient events and things happens automatically, because the (non-alert) mind clings to everything that enters consciousness. At the same time all of us are born with the urge to become….. ‘what we potentially are’.

Not being aware of this hidden reason for our striving for happiness we assume that we will find happiness from the impressions that enter our mind. However, no matter how we cling to these impressions, lasting happiness is not to be found. Not understanding that we are on the wrong track, our needs increase continually which makes us egoistic. All evil (‘sin’) comes from man´s egoism.

Our natural striving for happiness expresses itself in different stages of life in different ways. Everyone knows this, but who knows what happiness is? When you have achieved something of which you thought it would make you happy, then after some time you need another goal to go for.

And, as you may have noticed yourself, this continues as long as you go for ‘transient events and things’.

So, what can we do, to avoid that at the end of our lives we still have not found happiness?

We should become aware that ‘visible phenomena only’ will never give us the happiness we are looking for. Did you notice however that visible expressions of nature like sunrise, mountains, oceans, children’s eyes etc. give us a certain feeling of happiness? If so, accept these ‘hints’ to be an invitation to look for happiness in ‘nature’s permanent manifestations’.

I wonder if I may suggest to you here to consider to accept that happiness in general is only to be found in permanent, non-changing things. A loving family, a group of like-minded people, a reliable partner, these are things that make life worth living.

The reason why it is like this, is that we identify (feel one) with family, people or partner. We are lucky when life gives us this kind of happiness, but we also know that situations like these are temporary and fragile.

Above I said: At the same time all of us are born with the urge to become….. ‘what we potentially are’.

With this I mean to say that our pursuit of happiness aims at more than the examples given here. It will be clear, however, that I also do not mean that fulfilling our potential to become an actor, a banker, a pop star or whatever profession, can be our guarantee for happiness. There must be more and yes, there is.

Please consider this: ‘There is no human being in the world, no animal, no plant – literally nothing in the world – that came into being by itself. Man is ignorant of the fact that he is an expression of a ‘cosmic, conscious, creative principle’. This unknown primal cause has become all that lives—including us, as human beings’.

This quote from my book ‘Initiation into Reality’ (Part II 2.01) might be a reason for you to argue about, but in that case I suggest you read the explanation in the book itself.

For now I just want you to become aware that the whole of creation must necessarily have a first cause. However, as you know, the first cause discussion always leads to the ‘cause´s cause’ question (the chicken and the egg).

Continued…

Source: Science And Nonduality


Published on Jun 25, 2016

Deepak Chopra Secrets of Happiness

As a global leader and pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine, Deepak Chopra transforms the way the world views physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellness. Known as a prolific author of over sixty-five books with twenty New York Times best sellers in both the fiction and non fiction categories.


Published on Jun 24, 2016

A discussion about being identified with our longing.

How the global mind drives the evolution of both consciousness and civilization

• Explains how our brains receive consciousness from the global mind, which upgrades human consciousness according to a pre-set divine time frame

• Reveals how the Mayan Calendar provides a blueprint for these consciousness downloads throughout history

• Examines the mind shift in humans and the development of pyramids and civilization in ancient Egypt, Sumer, South America, and Asia beginning in 3115 BCE

In each culture the origins of civilization can be tied to the arising of one concept in the human mind: straight lines. Straight and perpendicular lines are not found in nature, so where did they come from? What shift in consciousness occurred around the globe that triggered the start of rectangular building methods and linear organization as well as written language, pyramid construction, mathematics, and art?

Offering a detailed answer to this question, Carl Calleman explores the quantum evolution of the global mind and its holographic resonance with the human mind. He examines how our brains are not thinking machines but individual receivers of consciousness from the global mind, which creates holographic downloads to adjust human consciousness to new cosmological circumstances. He explains how the Mayan Calendar provides a blueprint for these downloads throughout history and how the global mind, rather than the individual, has the power to make civilizations rise and fall. He shows how, at the beginning of the Mayan 6th Wave (Long Count) in 3115 BCE, the global mind gave human beings the capacity to conceptualize spatial relations in terms of straight and perpendicular lines, initiating the building of pyramids and megaliths around the world and leading to the rise of modern civilization. He examines the symbolism within the Great Pyramid of Giza and the pyramid at Chichén Itzá and looks at the differences between humans of the 6th Wave in ancient Egypt, Sumer, South America, and Asia and the cave painters of the 5th Wave. He reveals how the global mind is always connected to the inner core of the Earth and discusses how the two halves of the brain parallel the civilizations of the East and West.

Outlining the historical, psychological, geophysical, and neurological roots of the modern human mind, Calleman shows how studying early civilizations offers a means of understanding the evolution of consciousness.

Carl Johan Calleman holds a Ph.D. in Physical Biology and has served as an expert on cancer for the World Health Organization. He began his studies on the Mayan calendar in 1979 and now lectures throughout the world. He is also author of The Purposeful Universe, Solving the Greatest Mystery of Our Time: The Mayan Calendar and The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Look Inside

Dr. Carl Johan Calleman: The Global Mind Review

Published on Aug 19, 2015

[Previously Recorded Interview]
Dr. Calleman and Alexandra Meadors review his fascinating book called the Global Mind: The Rise of Civilization. It really gets into the details of the global mind, mass consciousness, our brain, and mind. Dr. Calleman describes how deep and fundamental the consequences of the shift in the Mayan calendar has been for our worldview, a shift that is only now beginning to make itself known through a new social conscience in our global social networks. Dr. Calleman describes the pivotal mental shift that created early civilizations; what inspired the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Jews and Mayans, outlining a new theory about the historical, psychological, geophysical, and neurological roots of the human mind.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of person(s) interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of Alexandra Meadors and Galactic Connection.

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