Last week the new Twitter account @POTUS of President Obama became a lightning rod for the worst in social media behavior. Within minutes of its setup, as reported in the New York Times, the account was flooded with vitriolic racist tweets, complete with hideous images, including one of Mr. Obama with his neck in a noose. Many troubling issues arise from this shameful behavior, but at the center is shame itself.
Behavior on the Internet, Twitter, and other social media outlets has become shameless, and at the same time, these outlets are being used to publicly shame people, especially innocent high school students being electronically bullied by cruel classmates. Shameless behavior has no consequences, and social media and the Internet afford easy anonymity. Put these two elements together, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for anti-social trends that keep building and building. Continue reading
Feeling guilty about climate change hasn’t proved to be a good motivator. The most recent report on greenhouse gas emissions puts March at a record-breaking level of emissions. Presidential urging doesn’t move Congress to take significant steps at solving the issue. The world community passes well-meaning resolutions that don’t lead to major global cooperation.
We are headed on a downward track, and everybody knows it. But we already know that guilt is a poor motivator. Fear is somewhat better, because it implies imminent harm, yet if the Earth is the Titanic and climate change is the iceberg, there’s enough open sea between us and catastrophe to lull the passengers into one more round of champagne and caviar. Continue reading
We seem to be living out the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” The curse is probably mythical, but our interesting times contain much turbulence. The horrific refugee situation in Syria, the rise of the even more horrific ISIS movement, not to mention Ukraine and news of natural disasters that never ends–from media reports you might think the humanity is unraveling and the planet with it.
But in the face of chaos, some facts remain constant and stable: Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology
The human mind can adapt to almost anything, but not chaos. No one can lead a completely random and chaotic life. The messy room of a teenager may look completely chaotic, but even there a decision was made. The choice was to be messy rather than straighten up the room, and as long as choices exist, true randomness isn’t in charge.
Yet clearly there are random events in Nature, and a vast body of science is based on them, from the random collision of atoms to the random mutations that drive Darwinian evolution. It’s hard to square the randomness in Nature with the incredible orderliness of human thought at its best (allowance must be made, unfortunately, for our own random impulses, which can be capricious, self-defeating, and violent.) Science tends to ignore the fact that the researcher who is driving to work in order to study random particles isn’t heading for a random place on the map. He is guided by purpose, meaning, and direction. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology
Two views of the universe have been contending with each other to explain why human beings exist. The first view holds that human beings are not special in any way. We evolved through random events that have accumulated over time, taking 13.7 billion years since the big Bang to arrive at the most complex structure in creation, the human brain. This view, long established in physics and biology, constructs evolution in the absence of mind. Matter came first, and mind emerged very late in the game.
The contending view, held by every wisdom tradition, holds that mind came first. The universe is a field of consciousness, which made it inevitable that conscious creatures would evolve over time. Using our self-awareness, humans recognize order, harmony, beauty, truth, love, balance, equanimity, creativity, and the other qualities essential to consciousness. Over the course of our evolution as a species, we have come to embody these qualities. Therefore, the link between humanity and the universe is intimate, to the extent that the only creation we experience is the human cosmos. Continue reading
Everyone has had a meaningful coincidence happen to them–the classic example is thinking of someone’s name and the next minute that person telephones, or seeing an unusual word in your mind’s eye and then running across that word the next time you open a book. It’s spooky that the outside world can be synchronized with our inner world, yet the bigger question is about reality itself. Synchronicity, the common term for meaningful coincidences, doesn’t tend to change anyone’s life–but it could.
Instead of passing off such experiences as incidental, what if synchronicity is telling us something crucial about reality, linking the inner and outer worlds because in the long run, they are completely unified? If inner=outer, a tremendous shift in the Western materialistic worldview would follow. Let’s see how far the trail of clues takes us. Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology
Over the past decade, the hunt for genetic connections with behavior as intensified. For any experience, there must be a physical activity in the brain—otherwise, the experience has no basis. Using this irrefutable assumption, researchers have looked for the seat of anger, criminal behavior, gender identification, the sense of self, and many other aspects of human nature. This includes spirituality. Where is God in the brain? To many neuroscientists, that’s not only a valid question but the only one worth asking, insofar as spiritual experiences have any reality. Continue reading
Although almost everyone fears the effects of climate change and deplores the inaction of governments around the world, neither attitude gets us any closer to solving the problem. Many pin their hopes on a breakthrough in technology that could somehow clean the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, while others resign themselves–and the world–to accepting global warming as a fait accompli that we must adjust to. In the first post of this series it was proposed that humanity has reached a turning point. Not just climate change but several other global problems (for example, AIDS, pandemics, overpopulation, a lack of clean drinking water) will be unsolvable unless our evolution as a species changes course.
For centuries human evolution has primarily depended on how we use our minds. Natural selection, random genetic mutations, and raw competition for food and mating privileges, which form the foundation of Darwinian evolution, either don’t apply to us anymore or have been drastically minimized, pushed to the fringes while mental evolution occupies center stage. Continue reading
There’s always a sense of crisis in the air generated by whatever bad news is making the headlines. At the moment, the greatest alarm is being stirred by terrorism and the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet at a deeper level, our anxiety centers on something much deeper, the possibility that the human experiment has reached a dead end. A set of enormous problems face us, from climate change and overpopulation to epidemic disease and global water shortages, that test the limits of human nature.
The terrible possibility of moving backward in our evolution as a species seems possible to many observers. We occupy a unique place in Earth’s evolutionary history, being the only creatures threatened not by natural selection but by our mindset. Pessimists point to climate change as a stark example. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of global warming, no solution is being acted upon quickly enough. The American public has become numbed by issue fatigue. Deniers have political clout, and ordinary citizens feel helpless to the point that many feel doomed. We continually prefer to either ignore the problem or push it away as the consumer lifestyle adds more and more to the underlying problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading
Although complementary medicine has made strong advances, mainstream medical practice still keeps faith with drugs and surgery as the default methods of treatment. The way forward for anyone who wants to establish a high level of wellbeing isn’t going to come via the family doctor but through self-care. The first rule of self-care is to trust in the body’s wisdom and to make choices in line with it.
Living in accord with your body’s wisdom is simple and natural, which is why practices that hovered on the fringe when I was first practicing medicine in the Seventies are now tried and true. The following points are unarguable: Continue reading