Do you love yourself just as you are? The way that people answer this question reveals a great deal about their upbringing. Well-loved children absorb from their parents a sense of self-worth that lasts a lifetime. But receiving mixed messages as a child is more common. These messages include the following:
I love you as long as you love me.
I love you as long as you are being good.
I love you as much as you deserve.
I love you, but don’t ask for too much or you’ll be spoiled.
You may remember such mixed messages from your childhood or not, but they all place conditions on how much parents love their children. Conditioned love is the norm, quite likely, even though unconditional love is the ideal. Can you change your inner image of how much you are loved and lovable? I believe so. Continue reading
Compassion is changing before our eyes. A religious concept associated with Jesus and Buddha (known as “the Compassionate One”) is being researched today through brain scans and positive psychology. In positive psychology your aim is to reach a state of well-being. The actions of a compassionate person, being kind and sympathetic, turn out to bring personal benefits as well. This is one way that a spiritual value acquires practical, everyday value.
As part of a compassionate lifestyle, a person: Continue reading
The fear of death always comes at or near the top of people’s worst fears. Some psychologists believe that this is such a potent fear, we push it down into the subconscious in order to avoid it. Yet from its hiding place the fear remains active, re-emerging in times like the death of a loved one, making grief even more painful and anxious. Avoiding the fear of death clearly isn’t the best tactic. One reason that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘s famous five stages of dying became so popular is that she gave us a rational framework for handling a once-taboo subject.
Rationality is one of the two ways a person can overcome their own personal fear of death. The starting point for most rationalists, particularly scientists, is to assume in the absence of data from the afterlife that our consciousness is extinguished at the moment of death. In a short video on the subject of “What happens after we die?” physicist Brian Greene takes the position, when you’re gone, you’re gone. Continue reading
A mounting fear that science fiction may turn into reality came to light recently. Three brilliant physicists (Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, and Frank Wilczek) joined with a noted computer scientist (Stuart Russell) to worry in public about what they termed “superintelligent machines.” In an April 14 Huffington Post article, they take a familiar sci-fi theme, machines that turn on their masters to destroy humankind, and tell us that computers are coming dangerously close to acquiring such a capacity.
I found myself smiling through most of the article–the gap between fiction and reality seems pretty wide right now–but that’s just the kind of complacency the authors are worried about. What if weapons of war are completely automated and turned loose to name their own targets? What if the current trend toward high-speed computer trading on Wall St. is perfected to the point that machines can manipulate the world’s economy? Continue reading
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