Tag Archives: philosophy

Thursday Morning Melody: Into the Spin

dessa1Margret Wander, better known by her stage name Dessa, is a singer, songwriter and so much more. She is among those musicians who can honestly call herself an artist and creator, wielding many “instruments” of creation. She sings; she writes (poetry, fiction and nonfiction); she teaches; she raps; she performs spoken word. She’s a creative force, the truth of which will quickly become apparent when you start watching her videos and listening to her music.

Hailing for Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dessa is a member of hip hop collective Doomtree, along with rappers P.O.S., Cecil Otter, Sims, and others. Influenced by these styles, her music incorporates aspects of rap, blues, hip-hop, and pop, creating a sound that is uniquely her own.

Oh, and for the record, she has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota. So she pretty much couldn’t get any cooler.

Enjoy this beautiful and poetic song, “Into the Spin” off her album Castor, the Twin:

So here we go back again
Slow climb but quick to descend
Arms out, arms out
Turn into the spin
It’s lovely and brief
With just gravity and me.

And if we choose to fall,
Who’s to say it isn’t flight?
So here we go back again
It’s lovely and brief
With just gravity and me.

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This post is part of  our Thursday Morning Melody series. Every Thursday we feature the music video and lyrics to a song that touches us deeply. If there’s a melody you wish to share with the Intent community, please share it with us in the comments below! Click here to listen to past Thursday Morning Melodies.

This Is What Real Love Looks Like

Burning Love -- Spring Botanical Red Tulip Flower“Real love is something so deep, so energizing, that you will not know it unless you experience it. Love is an expression of energy, not something that is transacted. Tell me one thing: can you love people when you meet them for the first time?”

(From the audience: No Swamiji! We don’t even know them, then how can we love them?)

Exactly! This is what you think. Let me tell you, with a little bit of intellectual understanding and meditation, you will realize that you can love anyone without a reason! You can love the trees on the road, you can caress them and feel the energy flow from you. You can love people whom you pass by on the road without even knowing them. Love is actually your very being, not a distilled quality that you possess.

Nothing is as misconstrued as love is today. Today, love is more of a transaction. If someone says something nice to you, you love him; tomorrow if the same person falls short of it, you don’t love him that much or you probably hate him.

Even your lifelong friend, with whom you chat everyday on the computer, will seem suddenly not-so-close if he says something that goes against your approval. Where is your love at this time? It has suffered temporarily!

It is just games that you play; a game in which love and hate surface alternately and interchangeably. And this love-hate relationship is not love at all. Be very clear. It is simply your reaction to a person or a situation, that’s all. This is what we call love. This is not real love. It is subjective love, that’s all.

Real love knows no object. It is simply there whether there is an object or not. Real love is the subject itself. It does not know any object. You are the subject and you have become love, that’s all. Any object that comes in touch with it, feels it. Just like a river flows naturally and people enjoy it at the different places that they encounter it, real love exudes from a person and the people around him will be able to feel it.

There is absolutely no room for conditioning in real love. The energy in you should overflow and express itself as love. It is then that you can break through the highly knotted boundaries of relationships and express yourself beautifully, as a loving being!

In order to discover the quality of your being, that is love, two things can be done. The first thing: repeatedly listen to words like these so that they create a conviction in you about real love; so that a space is created in you for the process of transformation. Second thing: meditate so that the transformation can actually happen.

In practical life, when you go deeper and deeper into relationships, you will understand that all that you feel is not real love, but just some form of give and take. It is all just adjustment, some compromise, some duty-bound feelings, some fear, some guilt. It is all there in the name of love.

Meditation will take you beyond these mis-understandings of love. Meditation will work at the being level. That is why it is a shortcut! When you have to go through life and know it by yourself, it will take you a lifetime. But with meditation, a space opens inside you to experience these things clearly for yourself, whatever your age may be.

Just understand this one thing: when you are able to love without a reason, you will expand like anything. Your world will suddenly seem larger than life. It will be so ecstatic. You will become an energy source to yourself and to others. You will be so overflowing that the energy in you has to touch others. There is no other way. Others will be naturally drawn to you.”

 

Originally posted September 2011

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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What Gives an Object “Life”?

nautilus-shellIn The Phenomenon of Life, vol. 1: The Nature of Order, Christopher Alexander asks, “Can we find any recurrent geometrical structural features whose presence in things correlates with their degree of life?”

He identifies fifteen features that appear again and again in things which have “life”–whether that thing is a sketch by an Impressionist, a wooden door, a Norwegian storehouse, a Japanese tea bowl, the Golden Gate Bridge. Or natural things, like a giraffe’s coat, palm fronds, a spider’s web, Himalayan foothills, muscle fiber.

The 15 features are:

  1. Levels of scale
  2. Strong centers
  3. Boundaries
  4. Alternating repetition
  5. Positive space
  6. Good shape
  7. Local symmetries
  8. Deep interlock and ambiguity
  9. Contrast
  10. Gradients
  11. Roughness
  12. Echoes
  13. The void
  14. Simplicity and inner calm
  15. Non-separateness.

It’s not always easy to understand, but just looking at all the illustrations is a wonderful exercise. I’m a word person, not a visual person, and this book really did a lot to help me understand how to look at objects.

I love schemes like this, that seek to identify the different elements of very complex wholes. I love taxonomy–and dividing people into different categories–and lists of all sorts.

For instance, just as I love Alexander’s approach, I love this scheme by John Ruskin in The Stones of Venice, about the nature of the Gothic:

“I believe, then, that the characteristic or moral elements of Gothic are the following, placed in the order of their importance:

  1. Savageness
  2. Changefulness
  3. Naturalism.
  4. Grotesqueness.
  5. Rigidity.
  6. Redundance.”

I don’t really know what Ruskin is talking about. But just this set of ideas, put together, makes my mind race.

How about you? Does Alexander’s scheme ring true for you? Do you have similar lists that you love?

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I had a great time seeing my friend Adam Gilbert.  If you’ve ever wanted to make your life healthier–by eating better or exercising better–check out his program on My Body Tutor–“no more excuses.”

Are you interested in launching a group for people doing happiness projects together? These groups have sprung up all over the world, and one of my favorite things on my book tour was to meet some of the groups. Intrigued? Email me, and I’ll send you the “starter kit.” Read more here.

Deepak Chopra: Tweets from the Cosmos – Tune In

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 12.38.08 PMWhen Twitter first appeared, I responded to its idealistic side, which aimed to form a global community that could create change beyond national boundaries. Tweets are now used for a million reasons that don’t aim as high. But it occurred to me that tweeting might be an excellent way to test the shift in consciousness that has been long awaited and equally long pooh poohed.

Who is right, the skeptics who see no evidence that consciousness is rising on a mass scale or the futurists who foresee a completely altered humanity? It’s impossible to measure such a huge phenomenon, but I decided to start small. On a daily basis for the past two or three years I’ve tweeted about cosmic consciousness, mind outside the brain, the nature of reality, the failure of materialism to explain awareness, and other Big Ideas on the edge of acceptability by mainstream science.

To my surprise, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Each tweet starts a dialogue almost the instant the tweet starts circulating. Naysayers and skeptics also participate, but instead of dominating the conversation – or crushing it – which is what you’d find in official scientific circles, the main result is open, eager curiosity.

Here are the three most popular tweets from a day last week:

Photons have neither color nor brightness. The world is made manifest through the light of awareness.

Taking existence for granted & assuming that science or religion are the path to truth are the greatest impediments to awakening.

The perceived physical world is a representation of a perceiving physical brain. Both the world and brain are immaterial in their essence.

Although each one states my own viewpoint, the statements are broad enough to be good debating topics, and each touches on a mystery that needs exploration.

1. Light is transmitted as quanta known as photons, which strike the retina and travel through a complex processing in the visual cortex to produce the experience of brightness in the world. But photons are not bright themselves, or dark. So how does the world “out there” light up?

2.  Science and religion both claim to offer a form of enlightenment. The scientific version consists of a rational explanation of all natural phenomena, along with the attendant elimination of superstition and other irrational beliefs. Religion’s version is a clear connection to God and the higher reality represented by divinity. If you assume that these opposing choices are the right answer, or if you turn your back on the whole issue, no form of awakening is possible.  The mystery is to find a way forward that makes enlightenment real and personal.

3. There is a long tradition in philosophy and mystical religion that sees the physical world as either an illusion or something unprovable. Against this tradition stands materialism, which takes as its first premise the reality of the physical universe. But this common-sense stance solves nothing. Reality must be processed by the brain before it can be experienced or measured. There is no objective platform outside the brain where we can stand and see the real for what it is. This fact upsets conventional science but has become a fruitful seed for thinkers who want to solve the mind-brain problem.

As you can see, the topics aren’t easy, yet a wide range of responses soon crops up. Since a tweet can be no longer than 140 characters, it engages those who understand my position along with those who ask, “What’s he smoking?” and others who just offer abuse. A twitter following of 1.5 million has burgeoned around these discussions, which rolls forward by a thousand people every day, often several times a day. I’ve come to believe that moment-to-moment engagement is what forms a community that transcends not just boundaries but the constraints of conditioned thinking. Those constraints are the main obstacle, not religious or political opinions, to a new level of consciousness everywhere.

 

www.deepakchopra.com

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A Modern Yoga Philosophy for an Awakened Heart and an Embodied Mind

AHEMI recently read Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind (A.H.E.M.) by Julian Walker. It’s an expanded version of the manual Walker and Hala Khouri use in their yoga teacher training by the same name.

Having just recently finished yoga teacher training myself and keen to learn more about leading people through an experience of yoga and not just yoga poses, I knew this book was for me. While an understanding of anatomy and alignment are foundational cornerstones for teaching yoga safely, I wanted to learn about the sometimes intangible and energetic experience we can tap into through our yoga practice.

Having felt this in my own body through yoga, I wanted to know how to make this accessible to my students. I was particularly interested in how to weave the holistic form of therapy known as somatic psychology into a yoga class. Yoga by its very nature connects, honors and respects the mind, body, and spirit. Balancing this mind-body-spirit approach with the fascinating and respected field of neuroscience was sure to be a powerful combination.

A.H.E.M. almost seems to come to life, with its asana and pranayama practices sprinkled throughout, as well as the introspective questions and suggested writing practices. It felt like I was stepping into the book more than just reading it. As I read and practiced the movements or contemplated the questions from both the perspective of a teacher and a student, I could feel an inner shift happen.

A.H.E.M. spells out a modern yoga philosophy that is not bound by the yoga sutras while staying true to the heart of yoga. The mind, body, and spirit are all players in this approach to modern yoga, and all are honored and embraced.

In the exchange below Walker answers a few of my questions on his background, experience, and unique approach to yoga.

*****

Monique: Julian, how long have you been teaching yoga and what experience do you have in the fields of neuroscience, neurobiology, and somatic psychology?

Julian: I have been teaching yoga since 1993. I came to the USA alone as an immigrant/refugee when I was 19 from South Africa and have largely educated myself whilst initially working minimum wage jobs. I have been fascinated with finding ways to understand and experience the relationships between spirituality, psychology, and science both in my own process and practice and in the work I have created to share with my students and bodywork clients over the years.

My initial deep yoga training (5 years as a student and 11 years teaching at her school) was with Ana Forrest, who has pioneered work in yoga and psychology. I went to a massage school called the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing, and have studied with various mentors along the way. Mostly I have studied the history and theory of body-based psychology as well as the burgeoning field of neuroscience through extensive reading and immersing myself in lectures online.

392244_326277700735072_451275225_n-194x300Monique: I found your section on the chakras especially interesting. You refer to them as “embodied and psychological experiences that most likely have their basis in our neurobiology.” For those of us unfamiliar with neurobiology, can you expand briefly on how mind­-body energy might have its roots in the nervous system?

Julian: Ah, great question! I think an elegant way to describe my theory here is that subjective experience – consciousness and our feeling of energy – are all expressions of our biology. For example, when we feel scared we know that there is adrenaline and cortisol coursing through our bodies, our heart rate is elevated and blood is rushing into our large fight-or-flight muscles.

Likewise, when in deep states of meditation there is a correlation between the quieting down of brain areas that track the boundaries of our bodies and location in time and space on the one hand, and a beautiful experiential sense of being at one with all things as we rest in the eternal void, on the other.

I became fascinated with how the chakras correlate with key nerve plexi (bundles of nerves that branch off the spinal cord to communicate with muscles, organs and glands) and with how we experience life through our bodies. For me, the chakras are a kind of map of how the mind lives in the body; and the nervous system (as well as the endocrine system, which secretes our powerful hormones and neurotransmitters) is a key component of this.

What if the chakras are a heightened awareness of our capacity to experience the neuro-endocrine system from the inside? What if our lived emotional experience is a whole body phenomenon involving the brain, nervous system and musculature?

Monique: Throughout A.H.E.M. you refer to both “mindfulness” and “embodiment.” I’ve seen the two placed into separate categories, and I wonder if you can comment on whether you see them as separate processes or if they can coexist and/or contribute to each other?

Julian: When I talk about embodiment, I am referring to a sense of being really aware of our bodies. Feeling grounded, empowered and in touch with our emotions and sensations, are all aspects of body awareness. We come to this awareness of the body via mindful attention. In essence, it is a brain function we can train ourselves to access more deeply. If our mindfulness does not include embodiment, then we feel like a floating head! Ungrounded, disempowered, out of touch. If our embodiment does not include mindfulness we can be reactive, impulsive or negatively self-indulgent.

With yoga, we can use mindfulness to facilitate a more integrated sense of being alive in our bodies and in touch with our emotional and intuitive wisdom

Monique: In another of your published writings you say, in reference to modern yoga, “We get to define what yoga means for us in the 21st century. This is Enlightenment 2.0.” Where do you see A.H.E.M. fitting into the dynamic picture of modern yoga as it continues to evolve?

Julian: Looking at the history of yoga, it has always been in a dynamic process of evolution. Always influencing and being influenced by the various cultures with which it has come into contact. Yoga is deeply concerned with psychology, science and ethics, and our human understanding of these fields keeps evolving. For me, any field of knowledge, practice and inquiry has to be open to the progress of human understanding.

We maintain yoga as a living tradition that serves our current needs and reflects our current knowledge when we keep it open. I see yoga more as a methodology, a mode of inquiry, than as a dogmatic belief system set in stone. For me, whatever is really true about what yoga is and what yoga does for human beings can only be more deeply revealed by looking at it through the lens of science, philosophy and psychology. It is an exciting process!

My book is the culmination of 20 years reflecting on the relationships between ancient and modern, spiritual and psychological, experiential and scientific. It is an expression of what I have found and how I teach and offers teachers and students a modern and integrated way to think about and experience yoga. I hope it can be of service.

Photo credit: Julian Walker

Deepak Chopra: What is the Deeper Meaning of Death?

It is an age old question: What is the significance of life if all we do is die in the end? Is there a deeper meaning to death?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak examines life and death from the perspective of identity and the myth of the permanence of identity. There is no such thing as a permanent identity, either as a perceiver or an object of perception. What exactly, then, is death? Is life itself dependent on death, and what IS permanent in our existence?

What do you think about life, death, and the deeper meaning of these cycles? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss this week’s Google+ hangouts in the “Aspire to Inspire” series!

Power Yoga: The Most Spiritual Workout In Town

“If you have a good mental practice but you’re not connected to your body, you’re fractured. If you have a good physical practice but you’re not connected to your spirit, you’re fractured. Yoga is about being whole.”

In the latest episode of 30 DAYS OF INTENT on The Chopra Well, Natalie and Iman meet with power yoga instructor Rudy Mettia. With a background in the U.S. Marine Corps, Rudy now specializes in teaching yoga to veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is known for his sharp wit and high energy yoga classes that emphasize athleticism in harmony with philosophy and spiritual reflection.

Walking into Rudy’s class, Natalie and Iman are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Natalie, a former pro soccer player with 3+ years of yoga experience, moves through the sequence with strength and poise. As a novice, Iman struggles and sweats to make it through the class. The disparity between their experiences highlights an important aspect of Power Yoga, as described by the practice’s West coast founder, Bryan Kest: Everyone’s body is different, and everyone is bound to get something different out of the class. Power yoga only promises to be rigorous and grounded in that mind-body connection Rudy describes, quoted above. Each individual practitioner pushes his or her body to its unique limit, while simultaneously exercising tranquility of mind.

If you wander into a class at the Santa Monica power yoga studio, you’ll find a room packed with sweating, grunting yogis whose calm faces belie their exerted muscles. It’s in the contradictions – mind and body, pain and serenity – that true growth occurs. This is what makes yoga such a powerful tool for transformation, if you know how to wield it.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss the upcoming episodes of 30 DAYS OF INTENT!

You Are God…in Drag

Who is God?

For all our advances in science, technology, and consciousness, this fundamental question of existence still looms large. It taps into a basic human desire to make sense of this universe we live in and find purpose in our lives. There must, after all, be a reason for the things we experience – the trials, the pain, and the joy, too.

In the latest episode of THE RABBIT HOLE on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses this question, and his answer might surprise you. Most philosophies on the meaning and identity of God throughout history have identified a separation between the divine or cosmic and the human. Determinists believe all events in the universe were set in motion on the cosmic level, making “God” and even humans’ free will irrelevant. Secular humanists tend to think there is no single truth or moral gauge by which the universe functions outside of human terms – what you see is what you get. Monotheists mostly believe that a divine God created the universe and generally oversees everything, like an all-powerful CEO of the cosmos.

For Deepak and other thinkers, there is no separation. All of the visible universe, Deepak relates, comprises less than 1% of what actually exists. If we’re looking for the “meaning” of our lives, the odds seem to be against us. But in truth, matter and energy are inseparable, Deepak says, as we’ve known since the days of Einstein. They are essentially two manifestations of the same thing – waves and particles. Overshadowing all else, as many scientists and researchers are discovering, is consciousness, the ultimate possibility field.

As participants in the universe, we are manifestations of consciousness, Deepak asserts. We also, however, wield consciousness. And it is for this reason that we, ourselves, are God “in drag.”

What do you think? Is God something separate from or interconnected to us? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more mind-expanding trips down THE RABBIT HOLE every Wednesday.

Check out Deepak Chopra’s new book, “God: A Story of Revelation“.

‘God particle’ discovered?

Whoever said science and spirituality are incompatible? Physicists in the US may have discovered evidence for the Higgs boson, the alleged ‘God particle’ which gives objects mass. The news comes from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois, and, if confirmed, would rank among the last century’s top breakthroughs in science. Ten years’ research and data-collection is about to pay off, and it’s bound to revolutionize the scientific world. But what does this mean for consciousness? What does this mean for us?

As reported on Al Jazeera this morning: “The Higgs boson is special,” Fermilab theoretical physicist Joe Lykken told reporters, adding that the tough-to-find elementary particle “gets at why the universe is here in the first place.”

This is the mother of all philosophical questions – how the universe came to be the universe. All questions of identity, purpose, time and space fall within with this reigning query. Evidence of a ‘God particle’ would dramatically change my life and the way I look at the world. And, naturally, one answered question evolves into fifty new ones. The more we discover, the broader our consciousness, the greater our thirst for knowledge.

But don’t worry, your mind won’t be blown today, and probably not tomorrow either. Research of this sort is slow-going. It’s “worse than a needle in a haystack,” as Lykken said. So for now, stay tuned and enjoy the darkness before dawn.

Click here for the whole article and more information about the Higgs boson.

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photo by: Hamed Saber