Tag Archives: perception

A Meditation to Restore Hope, Faith, and Trust

austin-neill-160132

Everyone has been experiencing the ill effects of disruptive politics. Thinking of the present situation in terms of a partisan divide doesn’t go far enough–there has been a wholesale loss of trust. Hope for a better future is defeated on a daily basis. Faith in the democratic system is perhaps at an all-time low. This malaise isn’t about issues and parties. It’s about how we view bad events and react to them.

Society presses the argument that problems arise “out there,” usually caused by other people, and getting immersed in private emotion is a suitable response. The cycle of event-response never ends, and it rarely solves anything. But we are all addicted to it. Not only do outside events capture our attention, but also there is the rush of feeling angry or elated, victorious or defeated.

The world’s wisdom traditions say very little about politics, but they have much to say about getting entangled in the drama, beginning with the teaching that matters the most: the drama never ends. Once you get enmeshed in external events that trigger strong emotions, you have joined the drama either as participant or spectator. Therefore, reality “out there” is the level of the unending problems life brings our way. By becoming stuck in it, people sacrifice their only path to finding a solution, which is to base their sense of self “in here.” If you don’t want to be affected with malaise, stop ingesting the next dose of poison.

When you lose hope, trust, and faith, nobody did it to you. However much you are tempted to demonize somebody else, everything “out there” is aimed at one and only one thing: keeping the drama going at full boil. How you respond is your responsibility, and this turns out to be the opening that sets you free of the drama. Dramas are built out of plot lines, and when you start to look inward, it becomes clear that every plot line, down to the smallest detail, is self-created. Continue reading

Why Experience Is a Total Mystery (According to Science)

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

 

Most of us have gotten used to the traditional opposition of science and religion. This opposition arose because two worldviews clashed, and only one could win. It was a zero sum game. On one side science stood for facts, data, measurement, experimentation, and a goal of pure objectivity. On the other, religion was cast as entirely the opposite, being faith-based, irrational, unprovable, totally lacking in data, and inherently subjective, which is to say, unreliable. But this was a case where the winning side (science and the larger secular world) claimed the right to paint the losing side (religion and the spiritual world) in the worst possible light.

If you actually explore the religious worldview, two things become instantly evident. First, that spirituality is much wider, deeper, and older than any single religion. Second, that spiritual experience exists on a level playing field with any other experience. Seeing a microbe under a microscope uses the same perceptual apparatus, so far as the brain is concerned, as seeing an angel, a soul, a departed ancestor, or God. This seems preposterous to the average science-minded skeptic, but in fact it is science itself that proves the validity of perception, and its deep mystery.

Let’s set aside the common skeptical argument that anyone who has had a spiritual experience is necessarily a charlatan, mentally unbalanced, self-delusional, lying, or all of the above. By “setting aside,” I mean that we won’t accept such experiences as ipso facto true, either. In fact, since religious and spiritual terms are so suspect in our present culture, let’s call the sight of a beautiful red rose spiritual; most people would call this a valid experience, and generally speaking they’d enjoy it. Continue reading

Deepak Chopra: What Is a Physical Object?

We encounter them every second of every day of our whole lives. But what exactly is a physical object?

Are physical objects really as we experience them? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra examines the true nature of material objects, which are actually much more nuanced than we might assume

As Deepak describes, physical objects are species-specific perceptual experiences. Is a flower the same to you as it is to a bee? When we examine the true nature of the entities we experience everyday, we might ask ourselves whether the physical world is objective and absolute or instead created in our own consciousness.

What do you think? Subscribe to The Chopra Well and tell us your thoughts below!

Deepak Chopra: Creating Your Own Reality

In this episode of “Spiritual Solutions” on The Chopra Well, David is wondering whether we create our reality or if our lives are just subject to chance. Can we create reality through intentions and opportunity? What is the role of randomness and chance? Deepak explores five areas that can influence “randomness” – beliefs, expectations, assumptions, perceptions, and moods.

How often do you feel like you have control – or even input – on your own reality? Circumstances and unexpected events tend to crowd our awareness and our sense of reality, to the point where it often feels like we are just puppets in a random world. The lesson here, though, is that much of what we perceive as “reality” is just a projection from our own consciousness. If we believe the world is out to get us, then 9 times out of 10 it will appear as such. If we, instead, address our beliefs, expectations, assumptions, perceptions, and moods, we may begin to see how much agency we actually have in creating our own reality.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts and subscribe to The Chopra Well!

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 4)

klanggabe

Click here for Part 3!

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

Working physicists, including some of the most eminent, believe that they are merely completing a very complex jigsaw puzzle, although most acknowledge that our theories are also incomplete and need more creativity. But that won’t really suffice: the universe will be radically incomplete if that big unexplained chunk – the mind – is left out, along with the vast array of inner experiences – love, joy, hope, sorrow – that comes with the mind. The subjective world is where our lives are actually lived. To exclude it in favor of only objective data gather through the senses, is like collecting every message ever sent over the telegraph without knowing Morse code. You will have a complete set of dots and dashes, but the meaning of the messages hasn’t even been touched. Likewise, our scientific theories are radically incomplete.

Especially among the younger generation of scientists, the questions left to answer aren’t just a mopping-up operation. Far from it. This next generation is more willing to confront the kind of incompleteness that potentially can alter the course of science itself. They are likely to not just continue doing the same things over and over again, just to remain in the comfort zone of “acceptable” science. This can happen once we begin viewing consciousness as a fundamental aspect of existence, not a byproduct.

Consciousness seems to be the simplest starting point for a science that could be complete. If consciousness is inseparable from existence, then so are the qualities of consciousness. The universe exhibited creativity, intelligence, evolution, and sentience, not because God breathed these qualities into Adam or because prehistoric hominids evolved in time from some far distant past to acquire them. In a very real sense, the universe has always been “thinking.” Mind didn’t begin with the arrival of the human brain or the brains of the most ancient species that roamed the earth. (The reason to favor the simplest explanation is that otherwise, if one ponders the question of origins of the mind, one gets into convoluted logical dead ends. We smile at the Medieval controversy over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, because it so obviously defies logic and in fact it seems comic. Future generations will surely smile at our insistence that neurochemicals in the brain create thought.)

Humans have exhausted the old paradigm of science, in which data-collecting and mathematical formulas according to some fixed “laws of Nature” were privileged while everyday experience was too messy to contend with. The new paradigm can’t simply patch up the holes in the old one. It begins instead with a single game-changing premise: the most fundamental fact of existence is our awareness that we exist. Several of the greatest quantum pioneers, including Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, and Erwin Schrodinger, were astute enough to foretell the key role of consciousness. To them, it was never irrelevant. It was something science cannot detour around, to paraphrase Planck.

In some sense it’s a paradox that we award Nobel Prizes for eminent discoveries about the early phases of time, space, subatomic particles, weak interactions and “standard particle models” and so on, only to face the possibility that these are all mental constructs, for that is the implication of a fully developed consciousness theory. In place of the quantum field from which matter and energy arise, our spiritual traditions – through deep, persistent training of the mind to perceive the world in far greater detail and depth than is our habit – reveal a field of consciousness from which everything arises. The speck on the horizon is about to fill the whole sky.

The assumption by neuroscience that the brain creates the mind is seductive but has far less basis in actual proof. Yes, damage to specific brain circuits can cause people to not recognize faces or even go into a coma, but nevertheless no fMRI or PET scan or lesion study has answered the question of where in the brain does the mind reside. One informative example is a beautiful study from the University of Iowa of a patient named “R” who suffered damage to three brain regions – insular cortex, medial prefrontal and anterior cingulate – due to a viral encephalitis. These regions are critical for human self-awareness in modern neuroscience theory and patients with damage to these areas should essentially become zombies. Yet, despite memory deficits from the lesions, R remained self-aware. Likewise, the notion that the mind exists separate from the brain has no actual hard proof in the laboratory, though, for example, increasingly detailed documentation of near death experiences by clinicians such as Pim van Lommel, a cardiologist in the Netherlands, and Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychologist in the United Kingdom, strongly raise this possibility.

Yet, neuroscience has not revealed the “location” of the mind anywhere in the brain, or for that matter anywhere in the physical body of humans. Mind is simply assumed to be there, for no better reason than that the brain controls the central nervous system. This is like saying that music is located in a radio. There’s no doubt that radios transmit music. If you lived on a planet devoid of music and a radio fell from the sky blasting the 1812 Overture, you could claim that the radio is solely responsible for music. But that’s the very same kind of radical incompleteness that current day neuroscience suffers from. Having no other source for mind, they stick it into a physical object.

Everything we call real is created in our perception. There is no evidence that the world “out there” exists independently of what we perceive. (Even an arch physicalist like Hawking admits that science tells us nothing about reality itself.) The physical brain would have to exist outside space and time to “see” its own origins. Only consciousness qualifies as Point Zero, the origin of all experience. It doesn’t need time and space. It doesn’t need the laws that govern matter and energy. Consciousness, as opposed to pure awareness, only needs an object, that object can only be itself. In a word, to find out the truth about the universe and the life that flourishes on our plant, only an absolute – truth with a capital T – answers everything we want answered.

* * *

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, 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 of Super 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 — Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.www.neiltheise.com

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 3)

I miss you my master........Click here to read Part 2!

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

If you propose that Truth with a capital T might return into our lives, like a speck on the horizon that gets bigger and bigger, many would prefer to swat the speck away. For one thing, Truth veers uncomfortably close to God. When Stephen Hawking was promoting his most recent book, The Grand Design, he held a press conference that created a headline shot around the world: “Science Makes God Unnecessary.” Hawking’s popular authority gave weight to a common sentiment. Even among scientists who are devoutly religious, nobody claims that God is necessary when it comes to doing science. (This assumes, as many religions do, that God is an external being, in essence an independent force outside the forces that physics study.)

But ruling out an independent, controlling Creator God-in-the-Sky doesn’t keep the speck on the horizon from steadily getting bigger. The speck is consciousness, which will become the basis of Truth with a capital T if human knowledge keeps unfolding as it has been. Science at its core is a mental activity, but scientists traditionally have shown a persistent aversion to discussing the mind, relegating the topic to philosophers and, most recently, to brain researchers, who claim that they are examining what appears to be the physical vessel of mind.

Physicists make theories about and measure external reality as such; for them, the “real” begins with the observable and quantifiable universe. Measurable physical quantities exist within space and time, into which are embedded all manner of things, such as elementary particles. They of course hold the view that physical universe won’t evaporate into clouds of fantasy or metaphysics. The constituents of the physical universe don’t depend on what you or I think. But, you might counter, isn’t thinking what consciousness is all about?

Not really.

There’s a sound reason for why the speck on the horizon showed up in the first place. The universe, like a comic-book superhero, needs an origins story. God once provided the best possible origins story, since an omniscient Creator in the sky could explain not just the beginning of the universe, but good and evil, life after death, reward and punishment, and why sex causes problems. For modern science, an origins story isn’t remotely so thorough. It is actually just one piece in a jigsaw puzzle. A host of other pieces are already in place, specifically the mathematics that explains electromagnetism and the strong and weak force – three of the four fundamental forces in nature, awaiting only gravity to complete the picture. As these calculations were being refined – a century’s worth of brilliant work – the origins story of the cosmos was jiggered to fit.

So far, consciousness still remains out of the picture of a physical universe, which most scientists are willing to consider. The evidence for the Big Bang (as a theory to how the universe began) is overwhelming, and even though we don’t have good evidence regarding the exact instant of the expansion, its beginning – currently held to be 13.7 billion years ago – set the cosmic clock ticking. There’s your origins story, an unimaginable explosion of space-time, in Einstein’s general relativity, that started the mighty expansion that created all matter and energy.

In any case, modern cosmology, a branch of physics, has been triumphant in telling the story of creation, so with a little patience researchers using billion-dollar machines will accumulate more data like the highly publicized proof of the Higgs boson, or “God particle,” hoping that, then, the picture will be complete. But this begs the question of what came before the Big Bang – a topic, like consciousness, that most scientists relegate to being inappropriate for study by others than philosophers. But shouldn’t scientists themselves be intensely curious to find out what happened before time and space began?

For some far-seeing thinkers, however, this is a “not so fast” moment. What does it mean to complete our picture of the universe? Are we simply missing a few pieces of a largely completed jigsaw puzzle? Have we reached the end of science where everything but a couple of nagging questions remain? Or have we actually failed to account for a vast and significant piece of the universe – consciousness – because the topic wasn’t placed on the scientific “to do” list? Perhaps their difficulty arises because consciousness and “what came before the Big Bang” might be related subjects.
Stay tuned for Part 4!

* * *

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, 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 of Super 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 — Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.www.neiltheise.com

Super Thoughts: 5 Ways to Make Yours Empowering

Beata Zita“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.” ~Author Unknown

I’m a long-time believer in the power of our thoughts, and I tend to focus on the positive. But, sometimes, those darn thoughts just spin out of control and go on their own little tangent, taking us along for the ride. This happened to me recently, but it served as a good reminder of just how powerful our thoughts are.

I was messing around online when an article caught my eye. There was a local headline about a fatal motorcycle crash. Eeek, bad news, for sure. Normally, I would avoid clicking on such an article just because I prefer not to fill my conscious with the gruesome details of the unfortunate things going on in the world. However, I couldn’t help but click this time. You see, my father sometimes rides a motorcycle and the crash happened within a few miles of his home. I felt a strong urge to read more. When I clicked on the article and started reading the details, my heart sank. While the identity of the motorcyclist was not released, the details of the crash had it taking place on a road, in a direction, and at a time that could have easily been my dad. I gulped. Very aware of my own body, I could suddenly feel my heart rate quicken and my breathing become more shallow as my chest tightened up. It was an uneasy, although not completely unfamiliar feeling. I started to feel a deep sadness and worry. I did not like it at all.

“Okay, wait a second,” I said to myself. I had no idea how many motorcycles drive down that road on a given morning, but it had to be a lot. It was a very busy intersection, after all. Plus, I didn’t even know for sure if my dad drove his bike that day, or if he even took that route. There was no real logic behind the sudden panic feeling. I was being crazy, and I knew it. In fact, I did confirm shortly thereafter that all was well with my father. Phew.

This example of the human mind at work is something we can all relate to. It’s just how we’re wired. From back in the caveman days, we were programmed with a “fight or flight” trigger, which used to have a very real purpose (you know, running away from dinosaurs and such). Though we have evolved quite a bit since then, our brains are still wired very similarly. The reaction I felt in my body was actually a defense mechanism. My brain was preparing me for danger. And, despite the incredibly low probability of that bad news actually pertaining to me, from a logical perspective, my brain treated it as if it was actually happening to me. In fact, the feeling was so real that it was indeed my reality for those few moments while the feelings took place. I had created my own illusion just like each and everyone of us go around creating our own illusions on a daily basis. Our perception is our reality.

I tell this story to help others become more acutely aware of their own thoughts and just how incredibly powerful they are. Isn’t it funny how our brains work? From worrying about something that hasn’t even actually happened to reliving a moment in the past to making assumptions that what other people do or say has anything to do with us at all – these are all ways that our mind likes to create illusions for us! And, yes, we are ALL a little bit “crazy” like this at times.

The good news is that as powerful as our thoughts are, we can work to take control of them and harness that power for good. Here are a few pointers on how to do just that.

  1. What are you thinking? Notice whenever your mind starts reeling and also take note of the physical changes in your body. Knowing really is half the battle. A mentor of mine, Angela Jia Kim of Savor the Success, says there are really only two types of thoughts: empowering ones and dis-empowering ones. Simplify it to that level, and learn to ask yourself in any given moment, how is this thought serving me?
  2. Check Yourself. Don’t get me wrong sometimes we really are in danger … but, usually not. Is there really a “dinosaur” chasing you? Is it really about you? Give your self an ego-check. In addition to trying to protect us from (often imaginary) danger, our ego likes to make us feel really special and like everything is about us. But, upon a little logical reasoning, we can realize that whatever dis-empowering thoughts we are having are not actually about us or even real at all. With this awareness in hand, we can then work towards changing them.
  3. Just breathe. This simple nugget of wisdom can be applied to just about any uncomfortable situation. Breathe it out. Deep breathing actually has a physiological effect on our nervous system that sends out neurohormones to basically tell the stress hormones to take a chill. Visualize as you practice breathing. Inhale peace slowly and deeply through your nose into your diaphragm and exhale stress slowly and completely out through your mouth. Continue this until you feel calmness restore.
  4. Fill your consciousness with positive and uplifting ideas. Since thoughts are energy and they turn into our reality, why not feed your brain with some good stuff? From the articles you read to the people you hang out with, to the TV you watch (or not), you are setting the stage for what kind of thoughts will go into that beautiful little noggin of yours. Fuel your mind with knowledge that empowers you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
  5. Practice Mindfulness. I can’t recommend a mindfulness practice enough. It helps us become so much more aware of our thoughts and what’s going on with our bodies. It keeps us connected with our core being and intuition. While meditation is definitely at the top of the list of becoming more mindful, there are many other ways you can practice. Yoga is another wonderful one. However, it can also be taking an introspective walk or doing your favorite in-the-flow activity: maybe painting, sewing, or playing an instrument. Regularly practicing these mindfulness enhancers will help you stay grounded, and to keep those crazy thoughts at bay.

Learn to harness the power of your thoughts and enjoy the reward of unlimited peacefulness and joy!

For more inspiration and tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Dawnsense love letters here and connect on Facebook !

photo by: ckaroli

Deepak Chopra: What is Belief and How Does it Shape Reality?

Do our beliefs at all affect the way the world really is, or are they merely projections of our minds? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses the relationship between belief and reality.

Beliefs are ideas that we hold to be true. They shape our perceptions, attitudes, moods, and how we perceive our reality. Reality is filtered to our consciousness through these beliefs, which in most cases are limiting but have the opportunity to be empowering. Beliefs limit us by defining who we are and what we hold dear. But true empowerment comes from pushing beyond beliefs.

Beyond beliefs, what is left to define us and shape reality? Perhaps we could open out awareness to perceive the world as it is in that instant before we begin assigning meanings and labels. What do you think?

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and continue moving beyond beliefs!

Deepak Chopra: What Is Enlightened Awareness?

Perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and everything else we experience in life comprise the contents of our awareness. How, then, do we move from passive awareness to enlightened awareness?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses methods for developing enlightened awareness and moving toward universal consciousness:

How do we know that we, other people, and the world exist? Because we are aware of their existence. How do we experience our world? We experience them as thoughts, sensations, feelings, moods, and images in consciousness. All that exists is awareness and the contents of awareness. To know this and to feel this is to have grounding in a universal awareness. Our world is only a “qualia gestalt”, a perception in our quality of awareness. To be able to be grounded in that understanding is moving in the direction of enlightened awareness.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Design Reality

reality-design

 

It came, this stick (the drawing above), it came from this quote:

“I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.”

I responded to this quote, and it was then that this stick begun to take shape. I said:

“Denying illusions doesn’t work half as well as embracing reality”.

You see, I read this quote and it felt tense, it felt confrontational, a bit combative even and I thought there must be a positive orientation, there must be a way to spin this such that there is openness and gentleness and inclusiveness. And so I said what I said.

The conversation continued. It was said that “It (the illusion) has to be understood and for the illusion to be understood, it has to first go through a process of exposure and denial, to finally realize that it is just a mirror of its own self.” and I thought: well, does it really?

Does exposing illusions for what they are, does cleaning away the noise, understanding and healing the pain, does it eventually leave me with a clear, quiet space where my self resides?

And that is the key question: does my self reside there?

Because, you see, I do imagine that clearing away illusions and noise and pain will bring me to a clear, peaceful space but … but I am not so sure that what I find in this space will be me. I am not so sure that I can find myself in this way.

Because, you see, I feel that the only way to find myself is to choose to be myself. Choose to see myself. Choose to feel myself.

Choosing not to be something in order to find what I am will not work, because I am only where I am, not where I am not.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...