Tag Archives: cosmos

A is for Alignment: NASA, Spirituality, and Our Evolving Universe

heic1316aAn Alignment is the synchronization of apparently separate events and elements into one singular harmonic convergence. In all spiritual traditions, the phenomenon of Alignment is both a prerequisite to and a signifier that things are unfolding with an underlying intelligence and order to them.

It’s both highly desirable and highly auspicious because it’s a marker that dissonance and chaos have been collapsed and that coherence has become the prevailing vibration.

When Alignments occur, there’s an opportunity for a quantum shift: to take not just the next step, but to move through dimensions and find yourself in a space where you’re ready to take the 10,008th step as if you had already made all of the ones in between.

It can happen in careers:

When after years of trying to get your scientific research funded and noticed by the relevant players in your field, you find out that all the players who you want to work with are coming to your department for a 3 day review and you have been selected to organize their welcome and farewell reception; this is an Alignment.

It can happen in families:

When you unite with your mother and two brothers for a Christmas holiday, putting you all in the same place at the same time for the first time in 9 years due to you all living in different countries now – and within 24hrs of your all being together, you receive a phone call telling you that your estranged father, who abandoned his family 20 years earlier, has died and you should all come together now to arrange his passing ceremonies; This is an Alignment.

It can happen in relationships:

When the first man you have said yes to in six years for a date, is driving you to a kirtan on your first date together, and you both find out that the closest female friend you’ve made in the SoCal town you have just moved to all the way from Europe, happens be his best friend of the last 10 years. This is an Alignment.

***

All Alignments have the effect of triggering irreversible healing and transformation.

When the Alignment is over,  you find yourself in a different position from where you were before – as if you stepped through a Stargate that transported you to a different place than the one you were in before it ever happened.

Mostly, when an Alignment is over, you may feel like you have evolved.

No Alignment is ever accidental, although why it is happening may not always be understood as it happens.

Just like it is hard to make observations about evolution when we watch it in real time, what is happening during an Alignment may not be understood in real time as it happens.

And just like evolution, or history, it is when we look retrospectively that we can begin to understand the lasting changes, the transformations that emerged and changed our reality in palpable ways from any given Alignment in a particular period of time.

***

Today, Nasa’s Hubble Telescope ran a story called ‘Bizarre Alignment of Planetary Nebulae’ in which it reported that over 100 nebulae are unexpectedly, to the deep surprise of scientists, showing an alignment with our galaxy.

All these nebulae formed in different places and have different characteristics. Neither the individual nebulae, nor the stars that formed them, interact with other planetary nebulae. However… Many of these…appear to have their long axes aligned along the plane of our galaxy…While any alignment at all is a surprise, to have it in the crowded central region of the galaxy is even more unexpected…

From a spiritual perspective, an Alignment is marker of evolution in progress. Change is happening.

Exactly what and how is being transformed, can be properly understood only after the Alignment is over.

Until then, we can put our faith in the only thing we can all trust: the knowledge that evolution can not be stopped.

 

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality.

Photo credit: NASA Hubble

Deepak Chopra: Thinking Outside the (Skull) Box (Part 8)

What's black and white and red all over??Click here to read Part 7!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., and Neil Theise, MD

Despite the fact that cultures have institutionalized the universal Mind with terms long accepted as true (e.g., God, Brahman, the Absolute), words aren’t very helpful to someone who hasn’t yet had the experience. If the unreliability of subjective reports puts off many scientists, the claim that some people have special experiences that go beyond words bolsters their skepticism. As a result, formulating a science of consciousness has been slow to start and even slower to gain credibility.

A personal disclosure: the authors include some contemplative practitioners with a varying depth of experience in the traditions of Buddhism, Vedanta, and Kashmir Shaivism. This doesn’t mean that our personal experiences are “true,” only that these topics are not hypothetical for us. Aligning with centuries of contemplative practitioners, we find the reports of expanded awareness compelling, but being physicians and scientists, we also think of such experiences as material for hypothesis-making and testing through experimentation.

Alas, other scientists hotly disagree, saying, “No, this is not a fit topic for scientific exploration – your evidence is born of hearsay and superstition.” To those who draw a boundary around what is worth exploring scientifically and what is not, we ask, “Isn’t this just another form of unthinking fundamentalism, akin to that of religious fundamentalists whom many rational scientists claim to abhor?” The Roman poet Terence wrote, Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto (I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me). Consider all the forbidden topics, from female sexuality to epidemics, from madness to gross anatomy, that were once placed under a ban. These meditation experiences are human experiences, like every other human experience that scientists deem worthy of investigation by techniques such as putting people inside an MRI machine: experiences like depression, memory, love, fear, excitement, orgasm.

The trend is now moving away from the naysayers. Research is starting to account for the swing between the inner and outer world, a swing we all experience every day, using as subjects adept meditation practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism. These meditators report experiences in which the sense of inside/outside and self/other dissolves. Instead of dismissing this as mysticism, one hypothesis now suggests specific neural activity within two complementary signaling networks in the brain – one is active when you are dealing with the world outside the body (called task positive network), the other, the “default network” (or task negative network) revs up when your focus is inward as commonly happens in wakeful rest, introspection, or from lack of significant sensory inputs).

Our brains are thought to alternate rapidly between these two networks, but when deep, “non-dual” meditation is performed, they both activate together, because inside and outside are no longer opposite and contrary, but are experienced as a seamless mind contemplating a seamless whole. We don’t mean to suggest the default mode network is the basis for the mind (since default mode activity is also seen in primates and rats), but the data illustrates how mental states like meditation affect the brain.

Short of proving with scientific rigor that the mind is not located just in the brain, we have pointed to the fact that the experience of your mind in your head is not the only experience you can have. Exploring the implications for yourself only takes a few moments a day – you can feel for yourself how your thinking does not have to remain locked up in the box of your skull.

Finally, the aura of religion is so strong that skeptics dismiss all spiritual experience – being alien to materialism – as matters of faith. Faith, in a great many varieties, is something we all turn to for interpreting our experiences. From the perspective of quantum mechanics, which has shown beyond a doubt that solid objects are not solid, it takes faith to believe that the physical world exists – certainly a rationalist must admit that the five senses are lying or at best are unreliable.

In everyday life, faith is part of the equation. But it is not only great faith that drives spiritual investigations but also, as is said in Zen, “great doubt” – doubt as to the meaning of existence and the reason for suffering in the world. The great faith in this equation is what makes the great doubt bearable. This balance between what we know and what we hope to discover drives science as well as spirituality. The difference lies in which tool of investigation is used.

The mind studying the mind reveals aspects of reality that can’t be reached by investigating the physical world. The reach of consciousness becomes even greater once we realize that the mind isn’t locked in the skull or even bounded by the skin. Step by step, the findings of mainstream science have opened the domain of Mind, that transcends our individual minds and is fundamental to the universe.

In the next posts we’ll return to what contemporary science understands about the most fundamental structures in nature – our aim is to find a meeting place between the inner and outer method of investigation. Have we made you curious? We hope so, because curiosity is the theme to be taken up next.

(To be continued…)

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Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with over twenty New York Times bestsellers, including co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, MD of Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony). Chopra serves as Founder of The Chopra Foundation.

Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University, co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)

P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and a leading physician scientist in the area of mental health, cognitive neuroscience and mind-body medicine.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-author with Deepak Chopra ofSuper Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)

Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) and Director of the Liver and Stem Cell Research Laboratory, Beth Israel Medical Center — Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. www.neiltheise.com

Deepak Chopra: Will the Universe Continue Expanding to Infinity?

What is the law of conservation and how can we make sense of it if the universe is continually expanding? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak explores whether the total amount of energy and matter is constant in the universe. Looking to a new book by Rupert Sheldrake, Science Set Free: Ten Paths to New Discovery, Deepak unpacks the nuances of energy and matter in the universe.

If the universe expands into infinity, and matter is only created and never destroyed, then where will we eventually end up?! Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out these related posts:

Deepak Chopra: Creating Your Own Reality

3 Gorgeous Meditations to Kick Off the Week

Deepak Chopra: Can We Create Peace in Egypt?

Do We Have a Living Relationship to the Universe?

Is there a living connection between us and the Universe? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra discusses this question from both an ancient and a contemporary perspective. The rhythms and movement of the planets is mirrored in the rhythms of nature, as well as those within our own bodies. We are, indeed, the totality of the Universe, in motion.

Because our own existence on Earth mirrors the larger nature of the Universe, we not only have a relationship with our cosmic home, but we are an essential part of it. Just as the planets move through space and energy recycles throughout the Universe, our own lives follow cyclic patterns and exhibit creative impulses. In a sense, we are the Universe, and the Universe is in us.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, War of the Worldviews!

Is It Love or Is It Projection?

RequiebroBy Rebeca Eigen

There is something magical about the experience of “falling in love.” Psychologically it is their feeling function that gets activated when two lovers first meet. Emotions burst forth and sparks fly that ignite a passion and an unmistakable bliss. When you are with that person, you are “in heaven,” so to speak. And when you are away from them, you are longing for the next encounter. As the song says, “Suddenly life has new meaning to me,” and they are transported into the realms of the Gods (the archetypes). In our Western culture, our movies provide us plenty of examples of this experience — so much so that we all yearn for it.

We mistakenly call this love, and many find themselves searching for their other half, their “soul mate.” We believe that this is what will complete us and that this magic is what we feel to truly value another person. As you will see when you understand the nature of the “Anima” and “Animus,” this is only the beginning of an encounter with our unconscious.

It’s interesting that the word “soul” also means psyche. In the psychology of Dr. Carl G. Jung, he explains this phenomenon of projecting our Anima and Animus (the contrasexual soul images in our unconscious) onto each other. The psyche seeks wholeness, and a union of our inner opposites is what Jung called the process of individuation. When projection occurs, this process has begun as these contrasexual images are now out in the open. We will learn a lot about ourselves by the people we either extremely love or hate.

Often we will fall in love and get involved in some very unsuitable, destructive and soul-destroying relationships, but these, too, are showing us aspects of our shadow. In order to grow and be a whole person, we need to become aware of what is really happening. When someone is “into us”, we need to ask ourselves, “Is it love or is it just projection?” Two people won’t know until time gives them a chance to see who each other actually is — and this requires self-honesty and self-disclosure.

There is no other way to see these parts of us, so it’s inevitable that they will be projected. The intoxication and the intensity of the experience are clues that we are into a projection. Ordinary human beings do not evoke the instant passion that “love at first sight” evokes.

The Anima and Animus

A woman carries an image of her male counterpart that Jung called the “Animus.” This unconscious inner male is her God (soul) image that gets projected onto a man in the outer world. As inner and outer create a mirroring effect, she will know a lot about what shape her inner partner is in by the person upon whom the projection lands. The clue to knowing a projection has occurred is the feeling of intense fascination or obsession with a man whom she will feel is her ideal mate.

A man faces a similar dilemma. When a man projects his perfect God (soul) image onto a woman, she becomes the carrier of his “Anima.” His Anima acts as a muse to bridge the gap between his inner and outer worlds. She animates him from within.

When this happens to both people at the same time, we call this “falling in love.” They definitely fall. They fall into their own unconscious image as each projects part of himself or herself onto the other person evoking a feeling of fantasy and Eros. The erotic and sexual nature of the encounter is psychologically symbolic. It is each one wanting to merge with or penetrate into themselves.

As time goes on, it is inevitable that projections are going to fall off. They actually have to so that we can see who the other person actually is and relate to a real person instead of a God or Goddess (a symbiotic extension of oneself). When relationships reach this stage of familiarity, many people addicted to this kind of high start looking outside their primary marriage or partnership. Many relationships end and the alchemical process begins all over again with someone else. Some go on to marry the person with whom they feel they are “in love with,” and later become disillusioned when they realize that they have married a person who is not who they thought they were.

On the other hand, if they are both committed to their relationship, growing and becoming conscious, when the projections dissolve, there is an opportunity that arrives for both people. They can now discover and embrace their missing halves. This is not an easy task as it takes work and often involves a painful encounter with the Self. In Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung says that an experience with the Self is always a defeat for the ego but that the death of the ego (the Self as you knew it) allows one to be reborn into one’s own wholeness as projections are taken back.

In taking back our projections, we can now see and accept our partners for who they are — not what we wanted them to be; not what we wish they would change into; not for what they can give us; but who they are. The love that can now grow between them is profound because it is REAL. Real love, unlike projection, is a willingness to see and support another person to be their own unique, separate self. This will untangle us from seeking in them the perfect parent-mirror image of ourselves, for as long as we are still seeking to be completed by another person, we will not allow them their own autonomy.

As love between them grows and expands to the entire cosmos, this kind of love gives each partner their freedom — the greatest gift of all. As the duet by Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion professes, LOVE will be the gift you give yourself.

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RebecaEigen-72-dpiRebeca Eigen, an astrologer for 25+ years and author of The Shadow Dance & the Astrological 7th House Workbook, specializes in relationships. Using your time, date, and place of birth, she uses the astrological birth chart to evoke the symbolic and help you become more aware of your total Self. Her study of the Shadow using Astrological tools has given her an invaluable awareness of the unconscious and the role it plays in the relationships that we attract into our lives. For more information, visit her Web site: www.shadowdance.com.

Deepak Chopra: Are Nature’s Laws Structured in Consciousness?

What is the relationship between nature’s laws and consciousness? Are natural laws actually mathematical explanations of the regularities we observe in the universe? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak addresses the scientific relationships among biology, science, math, and consciousness. Check it out!

The laws of nature are explanations to modes of observation in human consciousness. Through a string of scientific relationships, life is biology, which is, in turn, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, and math. Thus life is math, and math, as a symbolic system, is consciousness. Therefore, consciousness may be the basis of all the laws of physics, which are also the laws of nature. What do you think? Do the laws of nature derive from consciousness?

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Deepak Chopra: Can We Influence Our Own Evolution?

Is evolution a complex process that we have nothing to do with, or is there any way we can actually influence our own evolution? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak explores how can we influence human evolution as well as the evolution of the cosmos.

Our feelings, thoughts, perceptions, cognition, internal mental activity, and behavior changes in every moment. The neural architecture of our brain responds to both internal and external reactions which we create through our own choices. Thus, as we think, feel and emote – we affect the expression of our genes and expression of genes in others. Your genes are activated right now watching this video, and we are influencing each other, and thus, in a sense, influencing evolution.

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7 Beautiful Haikus from NASA’s Going to Mars Campaign

Daybreak at Gale Crater

Have you ever wished your artwork could transcend the boundaries of Earth and soar into the cosmos? Then you’re not alone!

Earlier this year, NASA announced their “Going to Mars” campaign in which members of the public were invited to send in messages that would potentially make it on board their MAVEN spacecraft. Did we mention the “messages” had to be in haiku form?

Unlike a traditional poetry contest, where your prize might involve publication in a literary journal or the chance to present at some prestigious event, the rewards of this campaign are more ephemeral. The three winning poems (which will be decided on by public vote) will be written on to DVD and carried aboard a spacecraft going into Mars orbit. And the glory pretty much ends there.

But there is something undeniably romantic about the whole thing. No matter how much we’ve learned about space over the last decades, the notion of “out there” still captures our imagination in countless ways. And the proof lies in the 12,000+ entries NASA received from people around the world, all hoping to make some imprint beyond bounds of our own planet.

Of those 12,000+, here are 7 of our favorite haiku submitted to the “Going to Mars” campaign:

 It’s funny, they named
Mars after the God of War
Have a look at Earth

~

distant red planet
the dreams of earth beings flow
we will someday roam

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I see you winking
Oh Mars, you fiery devil
Shining from above

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Among red stardust
Only in my dreams for now
Standing on the Mars

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Feeling Martian here,
surely space exploration
will reveal my home.

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Hi, from the Blue One,
your long time solar neighbor.
We’re harmless, mostly

~

MAVEN tastes the air
too thin to hold oceans’ broth
wafted on Sol’s winds.

Click here to vote on your favorite haiku!

What message would you send to Mars? Tell us in the comments section below!

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 3.58.58 PM

Click here to read part 1!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

In this series of posts we’d like to formulate a new picture of truth that replaces the flawed principles of science as it exists today. What is needed is an expanded science that grows out of facing – and correcting – some mistaken beliefs. Science follows wherever reality leads it. We think that reality has led to a place that isn’t explained by quantum mechanics alone. A new set of principles is needed to replace the current ones:

  1. There is no objective, external universe. What we perceive as physical objects and events are actually reflections of how the human brain perceives things.
  2. Reality is one, a constantly shifting whole. It is pure process in which every event is connected to every other. The process is falsified when it is frozen and chopped up into isolated bits and pieces of data. As Wordsworth rightly said, “We murder to dissect.” Particles have been replaced by events and by relationships between ever-changing fields of energy.
  3. We live in a participatory universe. The observer is blended into the thing he observes. Ultimately, there is no distinction between observer and observed. Both are expressions of consciousness as it unfolds in time and space.
  4. Space and time are not pre-existent and everlasting. They may have arisen with the emerging early cosmos.

Stated this baldy, the principles of an expanded science sound arcane and far-fetched. But that’s the nature of a paradigm shift. Everything gets reinterpreted in a radical way, and if you don’t buy into the shift, the reinterpretation sounds outlandish. To a mainstream scientist, still stuck in the 18th century world view, nothing is more outlandish than the following statements:

  • Consciousness is the ultimate reality. There is only one consciousness, which pervades existence.
  • Out of primal consciousness all the matter and energy in the universe emerged.
  • Primal consciousness continues to play itself out as the evolving universe. But the source of consciousness is inconceivable, since it lies beyond time and space.
  • The human mind is an expression of primal consciousness, which is why we are able to perceive reality in the first place.
  • Mind comes first, matter derives from it.
  • To finally know reality, our subjective experience is a truer guide than the collection of facts. After all, this experience is the only reality we live with throughout our lives.

The last point is where the lives of ordinary people are affected. Facts are no substitute for experience, and to say that scientific rationality will solve everything is a dangerous notion. A physicist might spend his day wondering about the state of the world, fearing the rise of terrorism, arguing with his wife over how to raise the kids, and feeling anxious about amassing a retirement fund. We can all identify with such a day. But if in the middle of the day our physicist collects a new fact about a subatomic particle, only that would be scientifically significant. The rest doesn’t matter, even though in reality the rest matters enormously as experience. We aren’t doubting the value of new findings about subatomic particles, only putting things into perspective. An expanded science cannot afford to shirk subjective experience through an abstract devotion to objectivity.

In the new paradigm, a purely objective science is a chimera, an illusion kept intact by excluding the actual experience of life as lived. One of the dogmas of current science is that everything can be known through the reductionist method. (Quantum theory actually provided limits to everything being known, although most practicing scientists sweep this under the rug.) In other words, the whole is understood by breaking it down into its component parts, the way anatomy breaks down the body into cells, tissues, and organs. Yet the reductionist method is exactly what keeps us from seeing the larger reality we are all participating in. A skeptic will protest, “If you don’t believe in reductionism, you aren’t a real scientist.” To which one can reply, “I’m still a real scientist, just not the kind you are.” This at least offers a choice.

We want to show in these posts that truth is very different from the measurements that science relies upon as it explores finer and finer levels of Nature. Like it or not, the pursuit of the truth is edging us closer to the Truth, as conceived of in Plato’s idealism, Indian Vedanta, and Buddhist philosophies. The universe has a source, and it is consciousness.

* * *

Deepak Chopra , MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers, including co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, MD of Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony). Chopra serves as Founder of The Chopra Foundation and host of Sages and Scientists Symposium – August 16-18, 2013 at La Costa Resort and Spa.

Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University, is co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)

P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and a leading physician scientist in the area of mental health, cognitive neuroscience and mind-body medicine.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), is co-author with Deepak Chopra of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)

Deepak Chopra: What Is Ultimate Reality?

It is an interesting paradox that science finds itself in. Science says that there is an observer-independent reality and you do not need a conscious observer to manifest reality. At the same time without an observer this reality is not testable, so it cannot exist. In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses scientific contradiction of ultimate reality.

In science, anything that is not testable is considered invalid. Science depends on empirical facts based on observations. If we propose an observer-independent reality, we must realize that an observer-independent reality is not testable. So according to the current principles of science, we cannot say it exists. A scientific conclusion would be that an observer-independent reality does not exist. But is this really the case?

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