Tag Archives: Truth

What Do You Do When Truth Knocks?

truth-smallSometimes we are cracked open without warning. Other times an unnerving anticipation builds like the click, click, click of the rollercoaster climbing up the tracks before an inevitable fall. Either way, this isn’t the romanticized, sweet pain of the movies.

This is the siren sounding, bathroom floor sobbing kind of pain that kicks us in the gut. 

I’ve found that in instances like these, the only way out is in. Inside myself- underneath of the layers of blame and excuses I’ve piled on top of the truth. And if I can press pause on the “poor me” chatter playing on repeat in my mind long enough to ask myself, “Why did I create this?” immense treasures are hidden in these moments.

Many times we miss these treasures because they don’t resemble our mind’s narrow definition of what a treasure is supposed to look like. 

On the heels of a very painful break up, where I was cracked open beyond anything I could imagine, I almost overlooked one of the greatest treasures of my life because it came disguised as a question I had massive resistance to answering.

But that did little to stop the question from badgering me – it woke me up in the middle of the night, and was patiently waiting bright eyed and bushy tailed for me each morning.

In an effort to silence it, I considered leaning on my old tricks and knocking back half a bottle of pinot grigio or buying a new spring wardrobe, but something deep inside told me that wasn’t going to work this time. No, I would have to answer the question…

“When are you going to do something that actually matters to you?” 

I’ve been successful in the corporate world for years, but let’s be real- corporate success isn’t exactly the stuff that lights the soul on fire. So I quieted my mind, dipped into into my heart, and admitted to myself that I wanted to write. And in that moment, I realized that I’d been unconsciously creating drama filled situations, (specifically in my relationships) as a way to distract myself from being confronted by this question.

Answering it meant I’d have to do something about it. But … what if it didn’t work out?

Then, I wouldn’t be able to hold it out in the future as some white washed, distant world fantasy as the thing I could always do someday.

As I gave myself the permission to just Be the Beginner, I saw a surge in my passion and ability to express myself through many different artistic forms. I learned that nothing- especially the deep burning passions that live inside of us- is random. Engaging in what lights us up inside, elevates our vibrational frequency and we become like gigantic magnetics attracting people and circumstances into our lives to aid us in the pursuit of our desires. 

When we approach each situation with the understanding that we personally created it to benefit ourselves, we allow hidden gifts and treasures to mushroom up all over our lives.

Because our thoughts and feelings are the seeds from which our external lives grow, these questions, recognitions, and revelations possess immeasurable value.

It doesn’t matter if YOUR TRUTH shows up like a flashing neon light or casually breezes by like a whisper on the wind- when it comes knocking, the only thing you need to do is LISTEN!

These treasures live deep inside you and hold the secrets to expanding your vision of self so you can come truly alive!

What is the question in your life that’s begging for an answer?

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Video of the Day: 5,000 People Choir Gather to Honor Teenager’s Viral Legacy

Zach Sobiech died of cancer last May, but not before he touched the heart of millions with his viral song “Clouds.” The radio station KS95 premiered the song on December 5 of last year. To honor the anniversary of the song over 5,000 people gathered at the mall of America to sing “Clouds.” If you aren’t familiar with Zach’s story then watch the mini-documentary about his last months with us from Soulpancake. (Warning: Tears are going to happen, in heavy quantity).

It goes to show that no matter what age you are you have the power to impact the world around you. The world lost Zach far too soon, but it warms the heart to know that his memory is being kept alive with touching tributes like this. It is just the type of feel good thing to make your holidays feel special.

What do you think of the video? Share it with us in the comments below! 

7 Tips to Communicate a Difficult Truth With Love

truth-smallThe truth serves everyone even though it may not seem that way at first. The truth will set you free even though it might piss you off at first and feel uncomfortable. Speaking your honest authentic truth takes real courage and commitment. Speaking your truth is a real spiritual practice.

As children we may have learned that there were painful consequences when we spoke our truth. Our parents got upset, we got in trouble, we weren’t so popular. So we learned to hide what we really felt in order to be liked, please others, fit in, not rock the boat, or create a scene and avoid confrontation. Sometimes we are afraid to share how we really feel with another because we are afraid of what they might think, afraid of hurting them, or the potential ramifications of what we share and the changes it may cause to our current lives.

However, holding back your honest truth doesn’t serve anyone. Holding back truth creates compromise, contraction and more conflict. Holding back truth often leads to more problems and time wasted down the road. When you withhold truth you close a part of your heart and in doing so you block the flow of your love. Withholding truth will drain you of energy, as it takes energy to suppress. Speaking your truth will free you and generate more vibrant aliveness.It is in sharing your deepest truth with another that you create the space for potentially more love and freedom.

Withholding truth creates a distance between you and other people. Whether you’re aware of it or not, it impacts your relationships. When you speak your deepest truth from the heart, it can often bring you closer, leading to deeper intimacy and connection.Authentic communication leads to deeper understanding and appreciation of who the other person is and where they are coming from. You may not agree with all they say but when you share from your heart there can at least be respect and understanding.

It is never easy to speak your truth especially when what you have to share is difficult. Perhaps you need to tell your partner that your relationship, the way it is right now, is not fulfilling. Or you need to share with your business partner that you want to end the partnership. Or you need to set your boundaries with a friend and stand up for yourself. Remember that it is in speaking your deepest truth that you evolve, but also it will cause others around you to face themselves and grow too. You sharing your hearts truth will cause others to get real and serve as a catalyst for their evolution, if they are open.

Speaking your truth even if it’s difficult is a gift to those in your life. Speaking your truth demonstrates your commitment to yourself, as well as serving those around you. When you don’t share what you really feel unhappiness is the result. Going along with whatever happens or what everyone else wants is a recipe for resentment.

What truths do you need to speak to those in your life? What have you been withholding? When you speak your truth your responsibility is in how you share it, to share it with as much sincerity and compassion as possible.

So:

  1. Get clear on the intention for your communication.
  2. Center yourself in your heart and stay connected to your feelings.
  3. Feel the other persons heart.
  4. Remember that they are souls having a human experience and learning lessons.
  5. Speak with clarity and share your deepest truth, rather than a watered down version.
  6. Let go of the outcome of your communication and how it is received.
  7. Regardless of how it’s received when you communicate your truth you grow and expand.

In any conflict, challenge, or disagreement, when all involved share the deepest level of how they really feel with love, the situation tends to resolve itself. When only partial truth is shared things often stay stuck.

Speaking your truth is not about being right, proving your point, or arguing. It is a commitment to the expansion of love and freedom.

When you speak your truth you honor yourself. When you speak your truth you honor another. When you speak your truth you honor love. Speak your truth with love.

Turning the Dismissal into Discovery

shutterstock_96798010You’ve been fine-tuning the moment for weeks: How you’ll stride into his office, announce you are quitting, deliver your pithy but subtly scathing statement, and stride out victoriously to the sound of Queen singing “We Are The Champions” in your head. At the same time, Maria Shifrin made the video quitting her TV news job, according to NBC Reports, public on YouTube and in an email to Gawker.

Or maybe you are on the other side. Your lover tells you he wants to talk. And when you talk, it’s short and pointed. And the dagger goes straight through your heart.

When one person rejects another, it’s always a statement on the relationship. To be told you’re not wanted — whether you’re a lover, a boss or an employee — brings pain. It can feel, at least for a fleeting moment, like a disaster, a calamity and an injustice all rolled up in a few clichés.

Today, workers think nothing of quitting by email or a public video. Lovers think it’s entirely appropriate to dump someone by text. However it happens, it feels it’s the Last Judgment on your character and your worth. You’re left powerless, which means that all you’re left with is an obsession about why it happened.

And obsess you will.

Dismissal, like failure, is something you have to learn to deal with. Control your reaction to it and turn a dis into a discovery and you’ll be several steps ahead of your dismissal’s power. It’s an important journey to make, because the pain of being dismissed can be particularly hard to shake. Being told we aren’t wanted can badly warp our very understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit. Think about it: We are inherently social beings. The struggle to gain the attention of others is hardwired by evolution… because without attention, we would quite literally not survive. That is why one of the first skills we develop as infants is to control others.

With that kind of history, it’s no wonder we can’t rationally process dismissal, seeing it for what it is in context rather than as a rejection of our very selves, a confirmation of our worst fears. We get dismissed. So we believe we are, unworthy, and not good enough. It must be our fault. We believe that we have failed.

The first step is to think about it from the dismissor’s point of view. This has to be better than the temptation toward sending raging emails, making late-night plaintive phone calls and cyber-stalking gone mad.

Step one in the journey of discovery is to take a clear-eyed look at the power dynamic in play during a dismissal. On the surface, the dismissor — the person quitting the job, ending the friendship, walking out on their lover — has the emotional upper hand in its entirety. They feel justified, rational, that this was the right thing to do. They are strong and you are weak. They are smart and you didn’t see it coming, did you?

Dig a little deeper and you’ll likely realize that while the dismissor may feel like they’re holding the reins when the final split is enacted, chances are they felt exactly the opposite for much of the relationship. Add that to the fact that they have probably been obsessively focusing on their grievances to work up the nerve to make the final split and you now have the recipe that got you punted. No wonder Joe Jonas reportedly broke up with Taylor Swift in a 27 seconds phone call. By contrast, on the surface, the dismissee is being acted upon, suffering the consequences of someone else’s choice.

But chances are you had at least as much power and control in the pre-game — the many, many interactions that made up the relationship and led to the final dismissal. Most dismissals are only the final straw of a process that has been going on for a long time, in which two people are careening toward an ending. Both of them probably see it coming at some level and both are a little at fault. Just as the dismissor forgets the good times when working up to the final blow, the dismissee tends to forget the bad when absorbing it. The relationship suddenly appears rosier than it had been in weeks or even years.

Remember the ultimate TV dis? The Sex and the City episode where Berger breaks up with Carrie Bradshaw via Post-It note? The shock and horror of that little yellow note temporarily erased months of her knowing in the back of her mind — and sometimes the front — that this wasn’t the man for her. He was a Berger, not a Filet Mignon.

The feeling of “How Can He Do This To Me?” clouds all other truths. Because being dismissed, dumped, fired, got rid of is an insult. It’s the equivalent of a name-calling in the street. You are bad, he is good. You are an idiot, he is smart. You did wrong, he was saintly. He is dreaming. And so are you.

The temptation is to keep those blinders on, to nurse your wound for as long as you can, because feeling sorry for yourself is often easiershutterstock_rejection-378x334 than doing the hard work of examining the relationship for what it was — and shouldering some of the blame for what it became. Do it anyway. Even if it takes a bottle of very fine Chablis, make yourself understand and feel that someone who dumped you wasn’t a perfect someone at all. This was someone who was at times weak, fearful and woefully lacking in self-worth or self-knowledge.

It’s worth thinking about these things before it happens to you again. Then again, it doesn’t always work one way, does it?

Very rare is the person who is only the dismissee and never the dismissor. Think carefully about your own motivations when you reject others. Then put yourself in their Choos when it happens. Sometimes, those who get dismissed a lot only do because they never work up the courage to do it themselves — when they know it should be done. At the same time, be careful not to slip into self-loathing — turning the tables on yourself and beating yourself up for somehow “deserving,” this. Again, return to the center, to reality.

Sometimes, though, people are just miserable or terminally unhappy: the woman who dumps a man straight after his mother dies because she can’t stand to see him weak, or the man who casts a woman aside because he’s scared she’s discovered who he really is, hence making him vulnerable. In these situations, don’t wallow. Accept that you are fortunate to be free of them.

Still, the rules for a good dismissal are pretty simple. Do it in person. Technology gives you too many chances to be a coward. Set a time limit so you don’t spend hours rehashing past slights and hurting each other more. Know your reasons but don’t feel like you have to list them. Remember that what you say in the moment will resonate for the other person for a long, long time. Just as it did for you, when it happened to you.

And finally, for both the dismissor and the dismissee, leave time to both mourn and to feel grateful. In the midst of all the feverish emotion, the recriminations and the guilt and blame and anger there was a living, breathing relationship there. It may not have been the best one. You may well discover you are happier in your way as you continue your journey of discovery about yourself.

But at the very least you must recognize that by their leaving, they have cleared a path for you to move forward. While you’re on the path, grab some champagne — it’s time to look back and celebrate how dismissal steered your great understanding.

3 Ways to Make Your Life Story One That Empowers You

leap“Don’t allow your situation to become your world.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes from Oprah’s Life Class

We all have a story. Sometimes it explains why we can’t do something and other times our story propels us forward.

I’ve heard cases where people have the same story — such as lack of money, resources, or knowledge — and one person eventually starts a successful business while the other is out of work and depressed. One story can lead to completely opposite interpretations and outcomes.

When you tell your story, you must…

1. Be honest about your story and stick to the facts.
Nothing more nor less!

2. Create the story that empowers you to move forward.
Never lower your standards!

3. Live your truth.
Establish non-negotiables!

“Does your story empower you or dis-empower you?” – Tony Robbins

We all have stories in different areas of our life. The facts are always available. The only thing that changes is how we interpret them and how we decide to embellish them.

Let’s look at three situations in different areas of your life…

1. Health

Facts: You have two kids, time is in limited supply, and you want to spend time with your kids.

Your Story: You can’t get in shape because you have kids and don’t have time.

OR

Truth: You must prioritize exercising because you want to stay healthy and be around to enjoy your children for many years.

2. Career

Facts: Your career is unfulfilling and you would like to be happy in your job.

Your Story: You can’t leave your job which is un-fulfilling because you will never find another job and you have no other skills.

OR

Truth: You need to move outside your comfort zone to learn new skills and find a job that makes your happy and allows you to share your strengths.

3. Relationships

Facts: You grew up in a dysfunctional home.

Your Story: You can’t have a good relationship because you grew up in a dysfunctional home.

OR

Truth: Surrounding yourself with stable people and creating a positive environment are important elements to have in your life because you did not have either when you were growing up.

Often, my clients have different stories for different areas of their lives. For example, one amazing and successful client has a can-do mindset in business and athletics. In his career, he believes he can close any deal and handle the most difficult clients. In the area of healthy living/athletics, he has the courage to go after his goals and compete in various triathlon competitions with no limits. However, in his relationships, he has the story that he’s had really bad luck and is not cut out for intimate relationships. Although relationships are challenging for all of us, I challenge his story line.

The one thing I know for sure, as Oprah likes to say, is that sticking to the facts opens you up to a more powerful story and outcome. If you have had relationships or jobs that weren’t fulfilling, then say that. Your story is not permanent. Focus on what you want to bring into your life and why it’s important. Create the story that empowers you forward.

Often you have to challenge your conclusions and ask yourself if they are true. Does it really make sense that you can make anything in your career and healthy living a reality, yet relationships elude you? How much time do you spend on the areas you are successful in versus the ones you would like to have different results in? Your story must be the truth. This is the only way to create a top 1% path and share your best self.

 

Originally published April 2012

Is happiness a myth?

experience-happiness

 It began with an exchange I had this morning. There was a question, I gave an answer. “Well, that’s a claim. Can you back it up in any way?” I heard in response.

“No” I said. “No I can’t and no, I don’t want to.”

I thought about this later. I thought about whether I was being obtuse, or maybe only uninterested in further discussion, but the more I thought the more I stood by my answer. No, I do not want to back it up in any way. Because I don’t need to. Because the claim is mine, the belief is mine, the truth is mine. I do not need anyone else to believe it, I do not wish to convert, I do not wish to convince. Therefore no, I do not wish to back it up in any way.

Why do I bother answering at all then? Ah, and here is the key of the matter: I answer to share a perspective. I answer to offer a possibility. I answer to present a truth. Not THE truth, not ONE truth, not the ONLY truth — but my truth. I speak my truth, and I wish to hear the truths of others in response. Not to adapt them and follow them, to exchange my truth for theirs, but to learn, to grow. To see reality in a way others see and I don’t, to gain a perspective others have and I lack. So that I can open. So that I can expand. So that I can develop my truths, round them up, add dimensions and facets until they shine like jewels.

So that my truths can grow as I grow, as my life grows, as my world grows.

This is happiness, I thought. This is happiness, right here, owning my truth. Every truth, each and one of them. This is happiness when I am myself and every truth is an expression of what I am. When life is an expression of what I am. Then there is nothing but joy and bliss in the world.

This is happiness: owning my truth.

That is my truth.

See more here.

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 8)

Butterfly flying free from cupped handsClick here to read part 7!

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

To salvage cause and effect, the “brain first” camp usually resorts to the notion that indeterminacy occurs at the quantum level but not in the world of everyday events. This sort of sequestration has no basis in truth. Whatever the brain is doing, its roots are in the quantum realm. In fact, the brain’s ability to express new ideas, new works of art, and imaginative thinking in general is proof positive that indeterminacy is fundamental to life, not a quirk of quark behavior. If Hamlet were lost for a hundred years and suddenly rediscovered, a crowd would gather to see the legendary play. Imagine that the actor playing Hamlet arrives at the line, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Does anyone suppose that a neuroscientist, even with total knowledge of every firing of every neuron, could finish the soliloquy? No matter how closely you examine the brain – including Shakespeare’s brain – the rest of “to be or not to be’ is undetermined until creative inspiration finishes it.

A solution to this either/or dilemma is to say that neither brain nor mind, “came first.” Michael Pollan, in “The Botany of Desire”, describes how apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes did not appear as the seductively pleasing plants we see before us to day – nor were we humans, a priori, the perfect propagators of these species – we shaped each other, intimately, simultaneously, mutually. These plants seduced us (with their sweetness, beauty, intoxication and nourishment) into nurturing, feeding and propagating them. Likewise how humans came to depend upon and their dogs, as dogs (previously wolves!) came to depend upon and love their humans. These are examples of co-arising or co-evolution.

Likewise, Hamlet is a perfect example of brain and mind co-arising. The words and the brain activity that brings the words into the physical world can’t be separated. But neither can any word you think now or have ever thought. One can argue that the brain and mind comprise a self-organizing system within consciousness. As brain activity modifies mind, the activity of the mind physically reshapes the neural networks of the brain. A universal consciousness, beyond our own, individual minds and brains, is the only thing that can unite our concepts of mind and brain. Consciousness is at the universal level existing everywhere, and it gives rise to countless beings, some of them with higher thinking abilities and rational experiences, giving rise to “minds”. But it also gives rise to countless physical bodies and corresponding brains, primitive or more advanced as the case may be. Once this truth is accepted, our worldview must change forever.

Here are some statements that directly follow from taking consciousness to be the absolute ground of existence.

  • Your body and the world you inhabit are projections of your perception. They are not “out there” but exist within consciousness.
  • Your true self is the potential for creating a body, brain, and the world around it.
  • Naming and describing something – a plant, animal, person, or even an inanimate object – camouflages the great mystery and majesty of existence. Reality cannot be named, described, or measured; these are only ever approximations. Reality lies beyond words or mathematical descriptions.
  • Your true self is not the fictional character you play on the stage of time and space. Your true self is the timeless awareness from which fictional characters spring, as Hamlet and King Lear sprang from Shakespeare’s awareness.
  • The fictional character you are playing does not belong to you. It is the recycling of unreliable wisps of memory and flimsy threads of desire.
  • Truth cannot be known or experienced by a system of thought, be it scientific or philosophical. Specific thoughts tied to experience of space and time are tied to the mechanics of the brain, which are enmeshed in space and time, not beyond them. But thought can also contemplate the end of space and time, the beginning of space and time. This is the paradox of reality, demonstrated by quantum mechanics already 100 years ago. Consciousness pervades the cosmos but cannot be contained there, because it is the source, the womb from which all things arise.

Such statements are logical conclusions based on taking consciousness seriously. If they seem preposterous to many orthodox scientists, this reflects the limitation of present-day science, not the ridiculousness of the statements. Science exists for the purpose of making sense of the universe, to understand the components that comprise the universe through quantitative means, and to produce self-consistent theories that can be tested and, potentially, disproven. Here we are making qualitative statements, which means one of two things: either science must concede that it is helpless to measure meaning or meaning must give rise to a new, expanded science. In both cases, crude materialism plays no role.

We believe that a science of consciousness is possible, as called for in an astute and intelligent TED talk by the eminent philosopher John Searle (it can be viewed on YouTube). Searle makes all the salient points:

  1. A science of consciousness has been long ignored but is not crucial.
  2. Consciousness is irreducible; it cannot be described as the outcome of physical processes.
  3. The world “out there” is the product of our perception.
  4. Consciousness is a field, akin to but not the same as the quantum field. It pervades everything.
  5. Subjective events can be objectively studied (as the sensation of pain, which is subjective, can be linked to inflammation and the activity of nerves).
  6. In fifteen minutes, you can see for yourself how thoroughly the superstition of materialism can be demolished.

What remains is to demolish subtle materialism, which claims, among other things, that a finer and finer exploration of the human nervous system will one day reveal where consciousness comes from. Searle himself is a subtle materialist, since he says that consciousness is a “low-level neuro-biological activity.” But that’s like saying that music can be understood if you get to the molecular level of a piano or clarinet or that radio. In reality, you can’t get there from here.

This leads to our final point. There are only two paths to follow if you want to understand reality. One is relative, the other absolute. The relative path – currently taken by Searle and almost every neuroscientist – is to study brain phenomena until you arrive at such a fine level that you observe the birth of awareness. This is like salmon following a river until it leads to the sea. The absolute path begins with the ocean of consciousness as all-embracing. Relative things (all the salmon and all the rivers they swim in) arise from this source; they display its characteristics. The advantage of the absolute path is that the hardest things to explain – mind, love, truth, intelligence, creativity, evolution – are a given. We can take for granted that the universe is the play of consciousness as it unfolds in space and time. What we are left to explore is the depth and richness of these qualities (indeed, whether they admit it or not, even crude materialists are exploring their own creativity and intelligence).

Even though reality is inconceivable, born somewhere beyond space and time, the beauty and paradox of existence is that we are participating in the mystery. As we participate, we co-evolve unceasingly. We can’t predict where human evolution will go, but we are confident that it will happen in Consciousness. The process of awakening is inherit is self-awareness; therefore, it cannot be stopped. The universe, as viewed from consciousness, is not a place in which we live, it is not an empty box or a cold void shot through with random events. We don’t live in the universe, we are the universe, arising from its fundamental nature with every other element, co-arising together. Then true self-knowledge will flourish, not instead of current science, but containing it and further transcending its limits, because no description of reality is ever the actual reality, just as the map is never the landscape. With such understanding we will take for granted the following, because we will directly experience them, not merely think them:

Peace is not a state of mind. Peace is our very being.
Joy, equanimity, and freedom are not things you work towards; they are qualities you already possess right now, in this present moment.
The point of arrival is now. The end of struggling is now. Being is now.
The only truth is existence itself, in the ever unfurling, co-evolving now. This is Truth with a capital T.

* * *

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

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 7)

Mahatma GandhiClick here to read part 6!

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

Telling someone that Truth exists with a capital T may seem like a quixotic crusade. We have raised a new absolute – universal consciousness (or pure awareness) – to the level once occupied by God, an all-pervasive, all-powerful agent who is secretly in charge of everything. But reality has led us to this conclusion and, by any definition, science is an activity that must follow wherever reality leads it.

The oldest and most sacrosanct assumption of science – that reality exists “out there,” independent of consciousness – has reached the end of its usefulness. The time for a paradigm shift is long overdue. Quantum physics sniffed around the importance of the observer a century ago, and now the tide has come in. Without an observer, so-called physical reality cannot be perceived in any way, either through validation and measurement by experiments or through theoretical, mathematical calculations. Moreover, a reality existing “out there”, devoid of consciousness, is, ultimately, not possible.

Our final task is to show why any of this matters in the real world of everyday experiences. After all, if we are right in saying that consciousness is the absolute upon which everything is based, reality must agree. There is no court of higher opinion than reality itself. Mainstream science has proved wildly successful despite its setting a low priority for pursuing the nature of consciousness as a major force. What kind of success can we point to for this newer paradigm? Subjectivity is anathema to the scientific method. What perversity impels us to suddenly elevate it? We’d like to sketch in plausible answers to both questions.

To begin, the bugaboo of subjectivity has always been a fairy tale. All experience is subjective, including the experience of doing science. The human mind is capable of separating subjectivity into various compartments, one of which is rational thought. You don’t buy a new car because you like how shiny the metal gleams in the sun or how smooth it feels under your touch. You can separate those sensations from rational considerations about price, reliability, style, safety, etc.

Science takes one aspect of reality – that it can be measured in bits of data – and runs with it. But it never runs so far that subjectivity is left behind. In fact, theories, to which all measurements of data must eventually lead and from which they originate, are, in the words of Einstein, “free inventions of the mind”. And beyond theories, all experience happens in consciousness, which means that if you want to get at the source of love, truth, beauty, hope, aspirations, art, insight, intuition, and scientific hypothesizing itself, the proper field to explore is consciousness itself. Consciousness gives you the answers to questions about meaning and purpose, such as “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Asking science to answer these questions is pointless.

Despite the proliferating number of brain imaging studies with press releases depicting colorful hotspots, neuroscience is not much closer to discovering why we love one another or where God resides in the brain. While fMRI and EEG studies are helpful to diagnose brain death and map the activation of high level circuits associated with self-awareness or decision making, our current imaging tools still do not, in fact, answer fundamental cause and effect questions about mind or consciousness. When science gets away with confusing data with meaning, philosophers squawk, but philosophy is in the same position as the hapless Bart Simpson confronting the cynical Krusty the Clown:

Krusty: What have you done for me lately?
Bart: I got you that danish.
Krusty: And I’ll never forget it.

Philosophy can plead for science to acknowledge what great thinkers and wisdom traditions have accomplished, but Science (capital S, the institutional reifications of scientific activities) is currently all-powerful and can choose to ignore it as irrelevant. As a result of this often willful amnesia, we have been saddled with the crude assumptions of materialism. It’s as if someone went to Detroit and said, “You build such fantastic cars. Tell me where I should take my next vacation.” The ability to arrive at incredibly sophisticated technology doesn’t remotely give science the right to speak about meaning and purpose.

In fact most scientists shy away from doing that. They correctly point out that present day science is neutral on such human constructs and values. But the new science of Consciousness will be able to at least put in the right tools, the experiences would be an integral part of what is being observed. Although “metaphysics” remains a term of dismissal among scientists, the hardest problem in metaphysics, the relation between mind and brain, has become a hot topic in recent years, largely because of advances in neuroscience. Here is the one place where consciousness can clearly make a difference to science, since understanding the brain in all its complexity will tell us a great deal about the mind if only the conversation goes both ways and science is willing to see the brain in terms of the mind.

The urgency of solving the mind-brain problem (or the mind-body problem, as it was stated in philosophy for many centuries) is greater than ever. Two partial answers exist, each with its own partisans. One camp holds that brain is the creator of mind. To have any thought or sensation, there must be a corresponding brain process that “lights up” with fMRI. These processes are fascinating in their complexity, but this is a mechanistic metaphor and does not actually answer the question of whether the mind creates brain.

In our prior metaphor of music and the radio, showing the structural and functional behaviors of the radio’s individual antennas, circuitry, and speakers, does not reveal how it “made the music” because it didn’t make the music – such analysis only reveals how the radio detected radio waves and transformed them into something a human ear could comprehend as music. Beethoven, the Beatles, and Beyoncé still made the music. Will an fMRI ever reveal how Shakespeare wrote, how Leonardo invented, or how Michelangelo painted? We think not. So the other partial answer is that the brain transduces forms of communication between humans – like plays, music, technology, and art – from their creative source in an all pervasive, pre-existing consciousness.

The events in consciousness include all experiences, including the experience of having a brain. When the word “hippopotamus” pops into your head, that’s an experience. When you isolate the exact set of neurons that triggered the word, that too is an experience. One didn’t cause the other; they arose together. Does this defy the Newtonian world view in which every effect must have a cause? Yes, but that demolition job was done a hundred years ago when the pioneers of quantum physics dealt with the behavior of subatomic particles, which obey “quantum indeterminacy,” a probabilistic way of looking at reality, wherein two events are linked by probability not by certainty. Yet this probabilistic view of reality is incredibly accurate. Quantum mechanics predicts parameters to one part over one followed by 16 zeroes! This quantum reality of indeterminacy has to be taken seriously, if we are to be self-consistent in our own science.

Stay tuned for part 8!

* * *

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

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 6)

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 3.47.45 PMClick here to read Part 5!

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

Imagine someone who says, “Every morning I look out the window and the sun has come up. So I must be responsible for creating the Sun.” Of course, the statement makes no logical sense. We know that looking at the sunrise doesn’t create it. However, at the quantum level the link between observer and observed becomes much more ambiguous as fundamental uncertainty guides quantum events. The classic example has to do with photons, which have a dual personality, acting like either particles or waves. Light only assumes its form as wave or particle when an observer makes a conscious decision to set up a measuring process and actually measures it. In the act of observation, a physicist might say something very like the man looking at a sunrise: “Without me to observe it, it doesn’t exist.”

This situation already represents a much softer definition of cause and effect from Newton’s billiard balls knocking each other about. There is no settled explanation for the observer effect – some physicists deny its existence or question the classic explanation – and it would be immensely helpful to clear up its ambiguity. A consciousness-based universe clears it up immediately by saying that observer and observed co-arise. They only seem to be separate if the human mind decides on such a separation. Feeling that you are in love co-arises with the brain activity that corresponds to love. You can’t have one without the other. But if you insist that brain chemistry causes love, you wind up with the same troubling ambiguity that physics faces over photons. Common sense tells us that if someone you’re attracted to says, “I love you,” there’s no doubt that the words caused love to arise as a feeling, taking the brain along. Since our bodies respond to feelings, and of course the inverse, then the brain responds to love.

The quantum version of the universe’s origins story has made room already for a pre-created state that is “nothing.” This supposition runs into the objection that this “nothing” cannot be verified – after all, it’s nothing. What if the pre-created state can’t even be thought about? Then science as a system of thought will be forced to accept its built-in limitations. But consciousness isn’t stumped. There can be a pre-created state that has the potential to turn into the universe, containing the necessary seeds of creation (i.e., intelligence, creativity, evolution, and self-organization). This accords very well with our own minds, for everyone has a vocabulary stored out of sight. When you want a word, the potential for saying or thinking of that word exists invisibly. Is that potential the source of everything you verbally think or say? Yes. So why not give the universe the same reservoir of possibilities? There’s no scientific reason not to. Indeed, if the pre-universe contains mathematics, it would solve the riddle of where math came from, which has baffled the greatest minds for centuries. (The acclaimed British physicist Roger Penrose has even gone back to ancient philosophy and labeled the qualities of the pre-universe “Platonic values”, which he claims exist at the Planck level where space-time comes to an end).

Science has been the greatest boon of modern civilization, but at the end of the day, experience is more important. A complete description of how the brain produces the sensation of being in love would be pointless if a supernatural dictator gazed down upon us and eradicated our ability to experience the sensations of love. Without the experience, measurement makes no sense. Now come the “Aha!” moment.

If consciousness pervades the universe, and if consciousness can be aware of itself,
then by looking at itself, consciousness can know the most fundamental aspects of the universe.

Such was the position taken by the Indian rishis who developed the most sophisticated model of consciousness that we possess. In their view though it was not just to see or observe, the most important aspect of consciousness was to experience. The brain can’t pause to measure its own thoughts, just as boiling water can’t count its own bubbles. But awareness isn’t in motion. It’s the still point around which the universe turns. The dead end that science has reached by excluding consciousness turns into a limitless opportunity for knowledge once consciousness is allowed back in. In the next post we’ll explore what this means for everyday existence. The possibility of achieving greater freedom is hidden within consciousness, and also the return of God in a guise we can place our faith in once more.

* * *

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 5)

Reigh's Brain rlwat

Click here to read Part 4!

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

Reactions to our previous posts in this series are ample proof that Truth with a capital T outrages and offends people. A few comments have come from sputtering atheists. But among some of the critics the main accusation is that consciousness is “outside science.” It offers no physical evidence; it cannot be quantified. All of which is true, if you insist on the old materialist or an external physical reality paradigm.

Consciousness is the one thing in creation that isn’t a thing in any respect. It has no mass or solidity, no color or texture, no specific place, no specific lifespan, not even the hint of substance – in short, nothing that can be measured. Science is all about making observations and taking measurements to prove theories. It can measure brain waves and the regions that light up on an fMRI. But it cannot measure meaning, beauty, truth, morality, and purpose, not to mention higher experiences of God, the soul, or the afterlife.
These are all created in consciousness. Far from being irrelevant, we believe that they make life worth living. The subjective world gives us the only reality we know, and the activity of measuring reality falls short in the most everyday experiences.

You cannot measure the value of close friends.
You cannot measure why finishing a marathon is a matter of pride.
You cannot measure why love feels eternal – and actually is.

Even if brain scans measure physical correlates of conscious activities (for example, the brain centers that light up when someone falls in love, or the hormones associated with love), we would not be able in the least to explain where they came from or what they really are. As in our previous “radio metaphor”, while detailing the engineering of a radio will convey how it produces sound for our ears, it will not explain the nature of that sound because the radio waves that turn into sound are not located in the radio. They propagate in the universe and they get “captured” by the radio. Clever engineering and clever research, but it doesn’t explain the creations of Beethoven or Beyoncé or Rush Limbaugh.

So, you have to know that love exists subjectively before you can identify its neurochemical markers. A person incapable of love would see brain regions light up for no reason (although people who feel love could at least give him a label for the activity he is observing). In the end, measurement is secondary (at best) when it comes to knowing where the universe came from and how it came about. By chance? By extreme order? None of the above? That can only be answered by the mind investigating its own origins.

It’s a daunting task. Imagine a kettle on the stove furiously boiling away. Could you measure each and every bubble? Yes, if you had the right kind of camera using stop-motion photography. But can boiling water measure its own bubbles? No, because boiling water is always changing; it has no fixed position from which to measure itself.
From the quantum perspective, the same trap has ensnared the human brain inside the skull. It is a boiling kettle of activity, which means that it is both the thing we want to observe and the observer. Science as it is being practiced today depends on separating observer and observed. In fact this is a huge assumption and is based on what the senses seem to be telling us. The thinking mind is the one instance where this cannot be done. Observer and observed are fused. That is why in Eastern spiritual traditions there is a state that precedes thinking, where consciousness is aware of itself. From this quiet state observer and observed emerge together as one.

The result is an origins story like no other, because cause and effect are not a part of it, because there is no before or after. Even the Big Bang may be one event in the process of constant creation, with cause and effect one of its local rules, not a rule that governs reality. Asking what happened before time began defies logic. There was a pre-created state, no doubt, but it wasn’t “before” the universe started – rather, in some sense it was “outside” our universe, outside the universe of four-dimensional “space-time continuum”. That’s another contradiction, since “outside” implies space, and space also supposedly arose with the Big Bang. We are hampered by the inescapable fact that the human brain operates inside time and space. We are like color-blind creatures looking at a rainbow.)
It comes as a great advantage that consciousness doesn’t need time, space, or cause and effect.

* * *

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

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