What a Concept?

About a decade ago I was in my friend Michael’s apartment when we were having a discussion about what might be “real” and he said, “Russia doesn’t exist.”

As I pondered this he continued, “If you fly over a large land mass in Eurasia and look down you see a bunch of land.  The fact that we consider it Russia is simply agreed upon by many humans.”

And he said humans and homo sapiens don’t exist outside of human understanding.

In today’s context I would cite the many speeches given by politicians that proclaim “America is an idea” – exactly right, and we now know that the idea originally was that an American was a male property owner – sometimes with slaves.”

The slavery concept, of course, needed to be enforced with power and those who were its objects might not have known the word “slave” but they knew exactly what their reality was day to day.

Right now the concept of the “Dollar” is under assault by foreign governments and entities that want to substitute their own idea of something that can concretely represent value – cypto, digital currency, anything that would also reduce the power of the current concept of “America.”

But the concept of the dollar remains pretty strong for the moment, although the ability to move conceptual dollars electronically has created many problems and now threatens its stature because if the world completely grasps that the dollar is just an agreement – it’s time might be limited.

All concepts as actually implicit or explicit agreements among a collective sharing a common language and consciousness.

Big problems arise when these concepts evolve – for example many immigrants came to America because they believed in its concepts – but group after group like the Irish and Italians, before the current African Americans and Asians – discovered that those that were already here did not actually think that the newcomers were American.

Problems with more significant concepts like Justice and Truth.

Each group had to learn and adapt to the collective agreements about these subjects, and sometimes they were enforced by a government which had been agreed to – and sometimes they were decided in other ways, often violent.

Well are all concepts just agreements and ultimately meaningless?

Science (another concept) actually suggests that no, with systematic analysis and experiments we can know certain truths.

Mathematics seems to ratify this with “constants” like Pi and finite measurement of seemingly solid objects.

But you could show the numeric sequence of Pi, or the human symbol, to alien and it would mean nothing until you and the alien agreed on the values for those symbols.

And it turns out that a big part of the usefulness of concepts to measure and perhaps understand what seems to be real is good faith.  The humans using the concepts have to agree that what they’ve agreed upon still stands.  Alternatively, the concept of fraud arises.

While neuroscience strongly suggests that concepts are electrical signals in the brain, upon deeper investigation those ideas are once again – just more concepts.

We use the word “mind” conceptualize how ideas and words arise, and many believe that they are the products of independent sentient beings – again in their brain.

If we try to define precisely what we mean by mind it gets sticky

Where exactly is the “here” that arises in the mind?  Is it somewhere amid the conceptual lines of longitude and latitude that we have conceptually overlaid on the planet we seem to inhabit?

Philosopher Ken Wilber coined the concept of two different realms of Mind – he called them Big Mind and Little Mind.

Little Mind seems to be the independent self that concepts convince us that we are – separate from “everything else” and with an interesting concept that we call free will.

Big Mind is what we might call a Metaphysical concept and refers to the presence of an intelligence beyond our brains and physicality that is infinite and without limits or separation.

This is presumably where the current concept of nonduality in philosophy comes in – plainly what happens with ideas or concepts is the arising of a “thinker” who seems to be separate from everything else – particularly the objects of thought.  There seems to be, especially within the structure of the language we use to articulate concepts a subject and an object to reality.

But is there really?  Can you find the subject that seems to be “you”?  Is it behind your eyes, or in the brain with the “neurons”?  We now know that there are neurons elsewhere in the body – like the gut and even the heart.

So theoretically if the concept of gratitude somehow arises – it might literally be happening in the heart – or even the gut.

And of course, it would appear that we being “organic” creatures that something like gratitude would be biochemical reaction or electricity of some sort?  That’s what neuroscience might suggest.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about these issues because I’m not working and have been recovering from a brain injury.

In my recovery I’ve become familiar with the work of a psychologist specializing in trauma – Dr. Gabor Mate – who has a new book which I have not read.

But I’ve watched a lot of Dr. Mate’s videos and I love the title of the book:  “The Myth of Normal.”

I love the title because in the course of my recovery very little has caused me as much anguish as the concept of “normal.”

As I connect to physical sensations that cause discomfort I can connect many of them to notions what I have been conditioned to believe is “normal” – or the way things “should” be.

It has been mainly by questioning all of these concepts and seeing them as agreement rather than facts or absolute truths, that I have been able to lessen their hold on me, and with it the power of what I think Wilber calls Small Mind and others call the Ego.

This would be the repository of concepts and beliefs with which I was socialized – first by my parents and then by society and peers – beginning with the concept of my name as “me.”

But when the Greeks suggested at Delphi that one should “know thyself” they wouldn’t have taken one’s name as the actual self.  They were going much much deeper.

Maybe what we are – and I believe Jesus said, “You are the truth” – perhaps we are Big Mind fooling itself with the dream of Small Mind while the life force animates our organism.

Can we wake up from this dream?  Maybe but we’d have to be sure we weren’t attached to another concept.

If We Can Copy and Paste Life—What Does It Mean?

I’ve taught quite a few people how to embed a video into a web page or blog as a means of creating compelling content for their social interactions online; in fact I’ve featured the process in webinars which drew upwards of 1000 attendees.

The process essentially is to copy and paste a block of “code” – a segment of computer instructions written in English – from a video hosting site like YouTube into the HTML panel for the destination page.

HTML is the coding language of the Internet and instructs the web browser what to display on screen when a web page loads. Once the code for the page includes the proper syntax for the “embed” tag that points to the video, that video will display when the page loads.

Here you can see a block of embed code from You Tube pasted into a post for Blogger, Google’s blogging program—in the HTML tab—so that it will display in the blog page as shown on the right.

Coincidentally a few weeks ago, Sixty Minutes did a segment in which they showed exactly the same process—used to revive extinct or endangered animals

Essentially the DNA of the endangered species is “copied and pasted” into the egg of a host animal that is similar in type. The only difference from the YouTube embed code is that DNA is made up only of combinations and syntaxes represented by the letters ACTG, not the entire English language.

As I’ve noted in the past, geneticists like Juan Enriquez, whose video I mentioned from TED, make no distinction between the way computer code operates and instructs, for example, a web browser, and how genetic code works with Life.

* * *

Here is the relevant portion of the article about the Sixty Minutes piece:

On the day we visited, they were laparoscopically removing eggs from an ordinary housecat, then sending the eggs down the hall to have the housecat DNA literally sucked out of them.

“What she’s doing is she’s removing the DNA from this domestic cat egg. And she can see it by what we call fluorescing it,” Dresser explained, while observing the procedure with Stahl. “It becomes just very blue, and so now she knows where it is. And now you’ll see her go in there and be able to remove it.”

Once the housecat DNA is deposited outside of the egg, they will replace it with the DNA of an endangered Arabian sandcat, a completely different species, gathered from a tiny piece of skin.

“And there you see it being inserted into the domestic cat egg,” Dresser explained.

“And you made that from just skin?” Stahl asked.

“Just from skin cells, right,” Dresser said.

An electrical impulse starts the egg dividing, and if all goes as planned, the now sandcat embryo will be put back into the domestic cat to grow to term.

* * *

Now, for most of us, copy and paste is a process we have used and understand.

So for those of us who use computers and the Internet every day, how do we react when see that the language of programming literally runs within Life?

For me, when I first encountered this fact, as a tech writer, it opened me up profoundly to a completely different view of life.

After all, programs on the Internet, Blogger, Google, YouTube, and on your desktop; for example Microsoft Word which I am using to write this, were created not my one person, but by enormous teams of programmers who planned, wrote, and implemented their code to achieve a specific set of purposes.

In reality, this code take electrical impulses, like the ones used to jump start the division of the egg of the Arabian sandcat inside its new host—but in the case of computer code it uses the electricity and silicon chips in the machine to manifest the ideas of the programmers—based on the interaction of the software with the end user.

In the case of Life, the interaction is much more complex because it involves the brain, and the entire cosmos or environment with which the “software” interacts. In his book The Biology of Belief rogue biologist Bruce Lipton identifies the cell membrane as the “computer chip” that literally processes the information from the environment—a process that forms the basis for the new science of epigenetics.

It also means we are not determined by our DNA code—genes express due to environmental, cognitive and other factors, but that the essential code itself—the combination A,C,T,G referenced chemicals that comprise the potential or blueprint for all living things—works like the code in your PC and responds to “user input.”

If I replace the embed code in the web page with a different set of symbols—I get a different video.

If I replace the DNA code of a house cat with that of an Arabian sandcat, that’s what I get.

In both cases the final outcome is an expression of a set of symbols—an idea in the mind of a set of programmers in the case of computers—and inevitably in the case of Life…

What?

Unlike some, I don’t see this as an argument for Intelligent Design or fundamentalism of any sort.

To me, the answer to this question, at this point is, I Don’t Know.

As I said, for me it is a powerful opening to the realization that life is far more than the merely random events that seem to happen through cause and effect, but rather that just as there is in your PC or laptop, there is an intelligent energy or software that is beneath or within the fabric of Life – or indeed is Life itself.

Certainly the recent advances in quantum physics and neuroscience also suggest, indeed they proclaim, that mental and subatomic phenomena are not simple cause and effect processes, but rather that the presence of an Observer or participant is fundamental to their nature.

So far, we have attributed the property of higher intelligence only to ourselves, and perhaps dolphins and whales, connecting it somehow only to our brains, which seem to host such mental activity exclusively.

And, we speculate about finding it on other planets or in other galaxies.

But if we understand that the same principles that we have come to know through our own experience with computers, the actual working of software—the ability to cut and paste symbolic representations to effect both electronic and natural expressions and manifestations—then it becomes clear that somehow a higher intelligence is at work in our cells.

For one thing, decoding the DNA within us has taken supercomputers to do the sequencing.

It is the expression of an immensely vast conglomeration of potentialities and variables—even for a one celled creature (some of whom have more genetic material within them than humans).

Moreover of the DNA already sequenced, a large portion is called “junk DNA”—but that’s because we don’t know what it does or expresses.

Some modern thinkers, like Eckhart Tolle, have said literally that a far higher intelligence than our own runs our digestive system, nervous system, respiration, and so on.

Conventional scientists will argue that DNA “evolved” as life formed billions of years ago from organic molecules.

It is clear that the mutation and changes in DNA, over millions of years, have produced many different species, most of them extinct.

But if DNA is software ask yourself this: could software “evolve” out of an “uninspired” organic molecule—or is the notion of manifesting an idea through a set of coded instructions a function of consciousness of some kind?

In other words, a mind – a term much of science finds extremely inconvenient—because a mind is not mere processing—but the capacity to conceive and manifest an intentional idea through mental activity.

How do we know that mind exists in nature, even if science finds the concept problematic? Because we experience it each moment we’re alive.

And now that we have created software (in our image), and have found it in nature and within ourselves we might say that consciousness is the intelligent energy behind the software of Life.

Are We All Screwed?

If we take our beliefs, based on our observations at face value – we are fucked.  Viewed with any objectivity the outer world looks foreboding – both with respect to other peoples’ motives and a potentially increasingly hostile environment.

So what are we to do?

We must question these perceptions because, again, if they are accurate then we are really screwed.

The only thing that can save us is if our perceptions are inaccurate or incomplete; then there is a chance at, if not escape, then some sort of “transcendence”.

If not a way out, then a way through and then beyond to whatever that may be:  obviously, an immense Mystery.

Is Surrender an Option?

Another thing we might do is to give up – surrender – and recognize that whatever is “real” or of which we are a living part, is much more intelligent in ways “we” cannot imagine.

We can notice that something not us regulates our breath when we do not pay attention – and if we DO pay attention, we notice that we can let the outer world breathe us.

We’re not growing our hair or nails, circulating our blood, or controlling our digestion.

So who the hell is?

Well at this point it gets tricky because one of our innate assumptions is that there must a “being” – a separate sentient entity if all this is being “controlled”. 

A “Who”?

But what if the intelligence that we attribute to a sentient being is just part of the “outer world” – the universe as it were.

We’ve seen examples of this with technology.  Wi-fi carries information or “data” in seemingly ubiquitous space without a conduit like our inner nervous system. With the right receiver we can take the “information” out of thin air.

How is this different from the thoughts we believe are travelling through our brains?

We don’t know – except that one is “digital” and another is apparently “organic”.

But what do these words tell us about what is being transmitted and received in terms of its relationship to everything else – is organic or digital an explanation of any depth?

So when we recognize that our perceptions are flawed and “our” thoughts seem similar to digital transmissions we can begin to question our entire reality.

Some who have tried for an explanation refer to what is happening as an appearance or a dream.

That would imply that perhaps we can wake up and thereby see things more clearly.

Wake up where and as who?  Our closest guess as to when that might happen would be death.

The Mystery deepens.

Self Observation and Identity

So I’m sitting here a bit high playing chess, Words and online Texas Hold’em, and my email informs me that my package from Home Depot has been delivered.

Immediately, the mind reminds me that I’ve seen this message before, and the package wasn’t there, and I had had to initiate a bunch of calls to either find or get it refunded and so on.

Then another voice informs me, ‘hey, why go into this negative spin.  You’re better than that now.  I’ll bet it’s out there” and so I laugh in quiet recognition of what “I” noticed and get my sunglasses.

I go to the front door and open it and look down to my right, where 98% of the packages are left.

Nothing.

I look to the left where it can get a little wet and I have to look around the door, and – no package.

In my chest there is the familiar flutter of a relatively mild fight or flight response – and then down straight a ahead five feet from the door – IT IS THERE.

I pick it up with organic gratitude and go back inside to the air conditioned sanctuary I inhabit, and put it down on the divan unopened.  It doesn’t need to be installed til Labor Day and until then I want nothing to do with it.

I sit back down and get creamed in chess having attempted a second level.  I used to play some in college but only for fun with friends and once read a book on openings a long time ago.  I figured it was going to be brutal playing the computer because the PC knows every opening and all of its consequences.  I am going by memory and gut and I surprised myself in winning a few – getting slaughtered at a 10:1 ratio but finally moving to level 2.

So I move over to Words which I am playing for blood with an old friend from high school and I think about the package.

Maybe I should open it?  What if they’re the wrong filters?

I burst out laughing. It’s that same fucking program. Life has improved dramatically – at least today.

A Memory For a Lifetime

I am reminded of a trip to Europe 50 years ago.  I caught up with a classmate and he persuaded me to go see some porno movies.  We went into a crowded auditorium with thick smoke, and soon after the film started….

I woke up looking at the ceiling outside the auditorium, people above me with smelling salts.

All I can remember of the film was that it began with bestiality – and I blacked out.

However, I made it a point to remember the “dreams” I had while unconscious – which apparently in “real” time was only a few minutes.

But I went a lot of places in that time.  I saw other beings, went to other planets and vaguely remember all sorts of unexplainable experiences until I had a deep feeling of concern.

I remembered by parents, back in New York, and how it would hurt them if I vanished.

Still unconscious “I” determined to return, but how? I was deep in the dream when I started to recall details of my “life” before I fainted.  I remembered my name, where I was from, and slowly a few other details that only I would know.

And then I remember that these various facts sort of circled around inside my head almost like gears meshing or as I later recalled, the “tumblers of a complex lock” – and when they all clicked into their proper place, presumably in my brain – my eyes opened and I was “me” again.

It was such an amazing journey that I tried to tell my friend and then sat down quietly, determined to make it an experience I would always remember.  It was that profound.

What stayed with me was the sense of the fluidity of my “real identity” – how it had actually gotten lost – or “I” had – in a completely foreign “place” but specific memories reemerged in consciousness and I returned – through my open eyes.

When the eyes opened other familiar information surged in, and in a moment I “knew” who I was, again.

What is interesting about this incident now is that after my recent brain injury, I went through many modalities to try to heal.  I’ve written elsewhere about how it was only when I began to relax into acceptance of some of the symptoms – like the incredible fear and fatigue – that I began to recover.

I am sure that what enabled the neuroplasticity for the brain to rebuild broken connections was playing Words with Friends and online poker in the afternoons – after a bowl of weed.

The thing that I began to notice, which was mentioned in Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi’s book Super Brain is how the mind is geared toward the negative.

To some extent, it is a matter of survival.  We are programmed in this way to enable us to presumably take precautions and live intelligently to avoid existential issues, like tigers.

But there are only a couple of tigers here in Las Vegas, but I noticed how geared I was to anticipate negative outcomes.  It took a determined effort to let things happen and not try to control them to loosen things up a bit and allow me to enjoy little things in life.

I love looking at my cat, lying on the rug, while I listen to music on the stereo.  Whether in motion or repose, she is a regal and elegant sight.

As I got better, while high, I would have some amazing experiences in poker, and I began to taunt the avatars that represented the other players.  And curse them when I lost – which I could do with impunity because of course I was alone.

And then I started laughing a something noticed the familiarity of old patterns of humor and sarcasm; these qualities also emerged on my occasional social opportunities, where I began to tell stories and laugh again with some of my friends.  This was over a period of about two or three years.

Epiphany

I have also written about how cultivating a sense of Oneness – or non-separation – through various systems I encountered was a large part of my recovery.

That came about through intense self observation; after all what else did I have to do except stay alive, which was a challenge as a 74 year old living alone with a brain injury.

For a while, and during the pandemic, it was a relief just to get one thing done a day:  empty the dishwasher; laundry; change the sheets.

It also took all I had to get food into the house and take care of other matters I deemed important or existential.  Planning a breakfast, lunch and dinner consumed a good part of my limited mental space.

I also relegated many things that I knew I “should” do to being ignored.

This led to guilt and shame that manifested as sensations in my body, which I began to welcome instead of attempt to banish.  As consciously as possible, I learned to accept these feelings as part of the totality of life which I sought to embrace as it was – not as my thoughts told me it should be.

And this self-observation prompted the laughter when I caught my “self” involuntarily bursting out with verbal reactions while on the computer, playing poker for no money.  Even there my competitive nature made me viscerally “upset” when things went against me, and I responded with delight and outbursts of satisfaction when the universe gave me a big payday of electronic nothing.

Again there was no money involved.  It was pure ego and after a long time of a dull acceptance and disinterest in almost everything these outbursts were welcome shocks out of my doldroms.

What was also noticed at this time, however, was many of these patterns of behavior that came up while I played, were parts of “my” old personality before my accident.

It reminded me of one excellent book I read during my recovery, “The Ghost in my Brain” by Clark Elliot, a college professor who described his own recovery from a concussion that almost cost him his career.

The notion of a ghost was perfect as way to describe my own experience.  I felt that there had been a “normal me” who had been lost – similar to my experience in Copenhagen – but this “me” was lost in what we call normal reality.  The psych term for this may be dissociation.

In any event it made me deeply uncomfortable much of the time and I suffered and yearned to return to the “old” me and be “normal” and be able to socialize with more people and my friends.

But as I believe the author of that book also found, the ghost only became discernible again when “I” was forced to accept that the old me was gone forever.

I had to let go of any reasonable expectation of ever returning to my old “self” – and I think it was around that time that glimmers of how “I used to be” returned, often unexpectedly.

As I described above – there was almost constant negativity.  What if the package wasn’t outside.  It was – but would it be the right stuff?  Would I have to make many calls to retrieve it?

The Patterns of Negativity Had Been Deep

Each time I caught myself expecting something awful to happen – I made an effort to relinquish control, and waited and let things develop – and noticed time and time again that the fears I had had did not manifest.

There were obviously exceptions; things have been out of whack in many ways and there were challenges like getting a new central air conditioner.  It was a big project that intruded on my solitude greatly, but I was able to accept the feelings that came up and when it was done, it was an amazing sense of satisfaction.

For whom? For something inside me that sensed I had more strength than I had thought.

But the deeply shameful and negative mental patterns had been exposed, and with them, by also sometimes laughing at them, I realized I was no longer who I had been….

I might even be “transformed” – somebody new.  Another ego trip.

I rested with the notion that I didn’t need to be special after all. I had now seen who had still accepted me with my difficulties and continued to love me.  I soaked up the love of my cat, and noticed the quails outside my house drinking from a platter of water I set out for them in the heat.

Over time, where I had been so distraught over my injury, I began to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for the things that were still positive, happening all the time. I took notice of those and then I would be grateful for waking up unafraid, or noticing that I DID have enough energy to go out to a friend’s house.

Most of all, I was continually amazed that I was still here – no longer entirely sure where “Here” or “Me” was or is, but somehow realizing that I was indeed a ghost.  My reality as a separate “person” was seen as ephemeral without all of my thoughts and patterns. 

I could let it not be about me.  And it got better.

How It Seems to Me

I first encountered antisemitism in the womb.

How is that? Well, my mother was a Holocaust survivor and had a very brutal time under the Nazis.  Such trauma apparently affects the fetus.

Trauma is a very hot topic these days.  I first had it demonstrated to me by a wonderful neuropsychologist who was herself a child of a survivor; in fact, it was the main reason I chose to work with her.

I had had a breakdown. Looking back, I would say I was flooded with emotions that I could not handle. I had stopped taking Prozac and stopped smoking weed and broken up with a woman of great heart – but I had little experience with the heart and I felt our minds were too often in conflict – and I crashed.

My ex-girlfriend recommended the therapist and one day I remember a session where I was having an intense sensation in my gut and she encouraged me to see if any feelings came up around it, and I suddenly recounted one of my mother’s most horrific experiences which she had shared with me about her time under the Nazis.

As I told the story of her time at Auschwitz I was overcome with grief and rage, and I began to sob and instead of handing me a tissue the therapist encouraged me to deeply feel the pain I had blocked until then.

The sobbing continued, and then subsided, and I breathed and noticed – I was still there.

She pointed out that the sun had come out.

I wasn’t “cured” – because that is a concept and not a reality.  Thoughts, sensations and emotions were going to continue – but I had begun to deeply notice what they actually felt like instead of blocking them.

In the course of my story, I had related that when my mother was selected to work and survive at Auschwitz, she had tried to go to the other line to follow her parents but was slapped by an SS officer and made to go on the line she had tried to avoid.  The line that saved her life.

Existentialism 101.  Had she gone on the other line I would not be writing this.

When the Nazi hit her, my mother’s glasses flew off her face and shattered.

She stumbled forward numbly on the other line and ended up in a barracks of hard wooden bunks, nothing else, with several other traumatized women, in the dark.

Besides having been separated from her parents, my mother knew  that without the glasses she could not function, and she had been chosen to work.  How could she work without her glasses?

At that moment she felt around in the darkness of the bunk and found, and old abandoned pair of eyeglasses, held together by string. I told the therapist that she had kept those glasses and survived with them until the Americans liberated her from another labor camp.

The therapist gasped and clutched at her chest.  She told me that when she had taken her daughter to Auschwitz a few years earlier she had moved some dirt aside with her shoe and found a pair of broken eyeglasses.

It was around that time that the sun came out.

Introspection Deepens

From that time in particular, I began to deeply explore the complex of conditioned stories and belief that had shaped my attitudes up until then – and could trigger a response in my gut or chest.

I had known of my parents’ experiences growing up, and it wasn’t a pleasant education but they wanted me to have no illusions about what the world was like (according to them). 

They ended up retiring in La Jolla and truly enjoyed their final years.  I grateful to have my brilliant father until he turned 86, and most of what he told me about life has borne true – sometimes to my own detriment.

But, I led a pretty charmed and as they now say, privileged life.  My father who had left Prague with two suitcases had become the treasurer of a large travel agency – which I later joined as a trip director.

I was five years old when we arrived in New York after having been born in Vienna to a woman who had been liberated from the camps just four years earlier.  Confused but a survivor, she met and married my father in Prague after the war.

Growing up in a middle class neighborhood in Queens I had everything I needed and felt very loved and secure as an only child of two monumentally intelligent European immigrants.  But of course, looking back I have come to see how growing up on my own in such changing circumstances must have felt, and I do remember a bit of what it took to live up to my parents’ standards.

I had only one incident of prejudice.  We had a Catholic school across the street and one day I was playing ball in a nearby lot and two young girls started throwing rocks at me and told me that I had killed Jesus.  They were just little girls and rocks were pebbles but when I told my mother, she was furious and went over to the Catholic school to have a word with them.

I grew up with no other experience of racism except at college, where I joined a fraternity where all sorts of slurs were used constantly in jock talk that would be found very offensive today.  From today’s perspective it was a pit of toxic masculinity – but of course I was pleased to be accepted.

And that is really the incredible thing – how the entire ethos of what is and is not acceptable in society has come full circle.  What my parents had suffered through was once again on the horizon and the way it became most apparent was in attitudes that were suddenly permissible towards gays, women and people of color – sometimes with frightening results.

We Believed in Progress

In the halcyon days, and the hippie years after college, we all assumed (the college educated elite that had jobs, families or careers) and were comfortable, that society was a story of progress.

We began to recognize the costs of our racism with the Civil Rights movement, and then the womens’ movement, we were on a seemingly clear path to a point, it seemed to us, when all barriers would be seen as artificial.  The notion of actual Oneness seemed less abstract and perhaps even achievable if not in our own lifetime.

We guiltily submerged our own troubling beliefs.  My parents had strong negative opinions of people they had not encountered in Europe – African Americans and Hispanics.

But I saw my father welcome and become friends with a Jamaican in his department, and later when they retired to Southern California my parents were typical liberals who saw the struggles of other people as very aligned with their own.

But what happened?

Out of the dystopian fantasies I had enjoyed watching as fan of science fiction and adventure emerged a reality that I had never comprehended.

Primordial Fears Resurface

It began the first time during 9-11 when I was in my fifties and my parents were gone, and I sensed that I could not count entirely on my world remaining as relatively stable as it had been.  America was suddenly not as invulnerable to planetary forces as it had been.  Maybe this was the other side of “Oneness.”

I was also aware of pollution and particularly what had become of the oceans but as my parents used to tell me “forget it” because I had no control over any of that.

So I followed their counsel to the best of my ability and created sort of a career in Los Angeles.  I was comfortable if not wildly successful – as I had tried to hard to be and I eventually moved to Las Vegas where I could afford to rent a house going into old age.

A freak accident led to a brain injury and surgery, and I struggled through a tough recovery.

My recovery accelerated when I became acquainted with the current trend in trauma work, epitomized by Dr. Gabor Mate and Scott Kiloby.

My brain injury had shaken my world even beyond the shock of Trump and imminent Fascism which I saw coming.

In order to make it through the day, in ways that I could not intellectually fathom. I had to put my rational side at rest and simply get through Life without any filters of “understanding.”

I got no answers to how I felt – which was exhausted and depressed upon waking up – from the medical community.  The surgery had drained the blood from my skull and then I was again on my own.

There were no helpful explanations.  I simply had to learn to accept and love the feelings and sensations again – rather than finding more ways to avoid them. The Robert Frost line – “the best way out is always through” – was relevant, and somehow after the pandemic and the election I started laughing again as I was able to notice the peculiarities of my conditioning from a more safe and impersonal space.

Rude Awakening

But the world I was recovering into was not the one I had left. It was turning even more obviously and dangerously into my parents’ world.

I had recognized the signs when Trump ran for President and insulted the Mexicans and of course as his campaign continued it was clear that he was familiar with and using the Hitler playbook.

I was often mocked as overly sensitive and deluded when I mentioned these things and then watched as they became worse throughout his administration, and he nominated a Supreme Court majority that threatened to remove all of the rights my parents had brought me to America to enjoy.

Now as I sit here and write this, we are a year and half into the next administration and Trump is still in Florida planning a return to power – and his Nazi and Christian Nationalist fans are not shy about proclaiming their hateful beliefs and threatening to destroy a fragile democracy.

How did this happen?

We live in an age of technological marvels. We are mapping the interior of the brain and the far side of the moon, and we have decoded our own biological operating system of DNA in ways that allow us to edit the genome.

We can talk about economic issues and imbalances of wealth, but I think the genome holds the key to humanity’s future.  It is literally our organic operating system.

Our Perspective Now Encompasses a Higher Systematic Intelligence

We can only now understand a little of what this means because we have also created self-running symbolic programs that we call software.  Our computer software runs on a systematic use of symbols with clearly defined “properties” and “methods” – that is to say strict logical rules.

Francis Crick, one of the pioneers who discovered DNA, recognized that it was so advanced that he came up with the theory of trans spermia which suggested that life came from the galaxy to earth in the form of organic material on comets and asteroids that arrived with some early form of DNA, sparking evolution.

But wherever it came from, DNA which runs our bodies predates humanity.

If it is the product of an infinite or immense Intelligence – which it very much seems to be – how did it arise.  “Whose” intelligence does DNA express?

We can speculate about aliens but ultimately we might connect it to the notion of Stephen Hawking and Einstein – both of whom found the universe mysterious and amazing enough without a personal deity.

But most of humanity still lives according to the personal belief of a separate “self.”  It forms the basis for all of our misconceptions about one another and it would seem that a collective transcendence of this illusion of separation (the old “Oneness”) is the only way out of our current situation.

The need to vilify an “other” disappears when we lose our sense of separation from a whole that is unavoidable in its obvious reality.  Without words of our own projected reality like ‘clouds,’ ‘planets” or ‘sky’ what actual separation is there between these apparitions in our field of vision?  Without words they are all part of one indivisible reality of experience.

A Silent Universe

Ultimately all aspects of our separation arise from our beliefs and thoughts.  In the silent universe that preceded us there were no individuals or even species – just Life and energy.  And apparently DNA.

It is also interesting to speculate what another civilization, with an entirely different set of symbolic understanding might experience as reality.  Have other cultures lived in greater alignment with Nature, or is that just our romantic illusion?

If a clear understanding of how our own beliefs and thoughts shape our reality could be taught with critical thinking in school, and then used to describe and evaluate all beliefs on the basis of such a perspective, a truly just world of impersonal fairness could emerge.  Our cult-like prejudices could not survive discernment based on recognition of the difference between our own thoughts, and all of Existence that continues with or without “our” beliefs or participation.

A mass awakening could happen based upon the sudden understanding that comes from looking out from within our own tiny reality in the other direction – to the cosmos – where it becomes obvious that our minute existence is a brief interlude in an eternity we simply cannot comprehend.

Using the word “infinity” we convince ourselves that we have an understanding of the cosmos.  Do we?

We are not special.  Neither as individual organisms nor as a species.  We are just an ineffable part of ALL.  This can be a profound insight – that there is only the great Mystery of Life and that many our intellectual “explanations” of what happens are what the Big Leibowski said, “that’s just your opinion man.”

We Have No Idea of What We Do Not Know

Science has convinced us we are in control, but we find ourselves at the precipice of disaster if we don’t wake up to the reality that we don’t really know very much.

From a more humble perspective we can see the obvious deeply higher intelligence of Nature, which much our science has copied.  But with all our artificial intelligence and robots we will never create a bee that ‘knows’ what to do.

Only such humility as a species can now bring us to the next “Copernican” revolution, where each of us is not long the center of his or her own epic story that runs in our brain with concurrent commentary, but rather a participant in a Mystery that only grows deeper as we observe ourselves truthfully from our hearts and allow a universal energy to guide our actions.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

One of the interesting things about my brain injury that in some cases I become a lab for recovery. I’ve experimented with probiotics and CBD hemp oil and discovered it’s hard to gauge effects—especially when there are so many variables.

The one area where I believe progress has happened in terms of clarity of thought—fatigue is still the major issue—but feeling that my brain is functioning well when applied is a significant improvement. In some cases I even catch myself almost feeling “normal”; meaning how I imagine I used to feel before my concussion.

The practice that has led to this new clarity, I believe, is my brief but concerted foray into visual therapy, or neuro-optical rehabilitation.  It was determined that my eyes were not converging images completely between the two of them, leading to my brain having to work extra hard to figure out what I was seeing.

Correcting this issue involves eye exercises and new prism glasses. I’ve been doing the exercises and wearing the glasses for several weeks. I suspect that what has happened to some extent is that the realignment of my vision is now supplying the brain with more accurate information.

So here again is a situation where the body/mind seems to be operating according to an intelligence and order—as with computers—Garbage in, Garbage out.

If you write software incorrectly with bugs, it results in garbage due to bad information.

Apparently the brain works generally according to similar principles.

One might as “where” is the intelligence behind these active principles?

If two ants exchange a chemical whereby one “knows” where the colony is, is there intelligence in that exchange? Once a scientist, however, finds the metrics behind the chemical exchange and sees the underlying order I suppose his intelligence is projected onto the ants’ exchange of what is now considered “information.”
In this case the scientist seems to be overlaying a mental, analytical component that if tested over time could be considered a discover or truth.

But this presupposes that there is an individual intelligence that exists within the brain of the scientist.

If it were discovered that the brain is actually more of a receiver of a universal intelligence—the same intelligence perhaps behind evolution—then that would change a lot of belief systems.

There is in fact more and more evidence now that animal brains can be “networked.”  More recently human brains were also linked in their ability to process information.

And in fact the network as a model for our own brain function is gaining prominence.

So can we now honestly begin to refer to DNA – which we now edit and reprogram to alter its express – as an organic programming language? The symbols which we use to represent its functions (A, C, G and T) represent biochemicals which perform various operations in our bodies according to predefined and predictable patterns that we can “decode” and “program.” This infers that the symbols convey meaning which means that they represent the output of some form of intelligence.

And we know that our own electronic and silicon based software is ALWAYS the product of intelligence.  (Google did not come about by accident).

The best explanation for the existence of DNA as an organic programming language would be to recognize that some form of Infinite Intelligence is actually a “property” of Existence/Nature/Source/Being itself and ubiquitous.

This may well be what some “primitive” and ancient people considered to be God—from the perspective of what we now sometimes call Pantheism.

(I hesitate to use the word “God” because of its emotional charge but I believe that “authentic” (secular) religion is based on this truth).

This is the basis for my book – “If DNA is Software, Who Wrote the Code?”

http://amzn.to/2D76BR5

If DNA Is Software – Who Wrote the Code?

DNA_cover_600

To get past the conditioned consider humanity’s most powerful recent scientific achievement – encoded intelligence known as software – from a different perspective and recognize that our own organic programming language (DNA) functions identically. How can we account for this?

The notion that there can be code, that can be edited, without Mind as its progenitor is contrary to all actual experience and empirical evidence.

Every other program that we know of is mind-based, as are we.

DNA Is Nature’s Intellectual Property New book is now available on Amazon.

http://amzn.to/2D76BR5

Resistance and Surrender

One of the casualties of my accident (fell and had a concussion) seems to be my mindfulness practice and my general ability to not get caught up or activated by situations that do not go my way.
 
Shortly after my surgery I stopped meditating because getting out of bed and sitting upright for fifteen minutes was just not going to happen. I also noticed that I was doing it mainly to satisfy an egoic standard (I had meditated regularly for about a decade and it was a matter of pride) and I was really forcing myself to do it now; it was not done with ease but with grim determination.
 
After not being able to listen to disks in the car for the past several months – too much going on in my mind and too consumed with not crashing the vehicle – I finally began “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, the book that first allowed me a glimpse at what one could call awakening.
 
The first chapter of that book is one of my all-time favorites and while it was a challenge to follow it – it reminded me of why was so taken by Eckhart’s ideas. He has a cosmological perspective that extends beyond the human species and sees our continued evolution as necessary but not inevitable.
 
Today I heard him speak about how when you encounter a challenging episode in your life you can resist or surrender. I know that at the outset after my concussion I tried like hell to act in denial, exhausting myself and confronting frustration after frustration.
 
With the choice to have surgery the truth became much more matter of fact – I was going to be tired and depressed for a while – and I tried to approach it without judgment but I did many of the things Eckhart described – I felt sorry for myself and wondered why did this happen to “me.”
 
I was definitely resisting “the flow of life” and not accepting “what happened.” I fervently wished life to be other than what it was…
 
I thought I was in acceptance. I talked a good game to myself and a few others but those who knew me best saw that I was in massive resistance.
 
I saw myself keep looking for answers and fixes to accelerate my recovery through diet. Whenever new “solution” popped up online I jumped on it wanting to leave no stone unturned but the biggest stone was the one I was pushing up the hill representing my own impatience.
 
I thought that my level of awareness of my resistance would be enough. It wasn’t and isn’t – while I can’t stop my resistant thoughts and awareness of them is good – I need to be in acceptance within my body and surrender for real, not just in my imagination.
 
I hope that listening to this book and practicing acceptance to the greatest possible degree will allow me to see myself through the best potential recovery.
 
I have seen from an online group devoted to those with Traumatic Brain Injuries that I was in fact rather fortunate in comparison with many others, and that the key to recovery seems to be fully accepting the new challenges that are now a inescapable part of my life when they impede me – the low energy and highly charged emotional reactions will be there for foreseeable future – the more I surrender to this reality the easier it will go for me.
 
I need to keep my mind relaxed so I have cut back on TV and Internet which means I rest a lot. I do try to use the mind as effectively as possible to manage the limited energy I do have.
 
It is getting better but the day to day increments are very subtle and there are setbacks as well – but having found myself able to tolerate the CD voice in my head along with my own I see real potential for my recovery. This time I really will be Tom 2.0. Very different properties and methods.

Configuring Your Inner Startup Utility

The Startup tab of the Windows MSCONFIG System Configuration utility lets you control which programs Windows loads on boot up – the fewer you allow the more efficient your system and the less potential conflict (in “system memory”) with “applications” like Word or Photoshop. Notice that programs like iTunes and Google don’t need to “preload” – they can be disabled and run only when needed–but they will try to load into Startup. Notice the many programs I have disabled in my System Configuration…

Now what about your brain? How many programs do you load when you wake up – assumptions, beliefs and stories that you don’t need but that impede your functioning?

You can begin to notice and even disable them (in your own Startup Utility) during silence and meditation.

Can you begin to identify unnecessary obsessive thoughts and concepts in the silence? Then your own conscious “applications” – love, peace, harmony, family and even worldly goals can unfold more efficiently.

 

Why “No Problem” Is a Problem

If you’ve been out an about recently where someone has served you, in a restaurant or store, and said “thank you” perhaps you’ve noticed a new trend. Many younger people in particular no longer say “you’re welcome.” Instead they say “no problem.”

I have a big problem with this because I think it is symptomatic of a shift in consciousness that is partially responsible for the number of unemployed younger people, and those dissatisfied with their current positions.

Looking a bit deeper, saying “you’re welcome” acknowledges your “thank you” as an appreciation of their service.

“No problem,” on the other hand, implies that your request in some way intruded on their right to be undisturbed and they deem it acceptable that you made the request and they complied. It conveys no appreciation whatsoever and I’ll go a step further.

They seem unconscious of another aspect of the situation. They’re WORKING.

Confronted with this concept, many might argue that I’m advocating a subservient position, but that is in no way the case.

Rather I am suggesting that during “work” there is an implied level of commitment to the task at hand that is expected unless you are an uncompensated intern. If you’re being paid, then it is your task to perform whatever duties are reasonably expected and none of these should ever be construed as “a problem.”

Assuming that any disturbance of your peace during working hours (and this includes your texting or speaking on the phone) is a problem that you magnanimously have decided to overlook makes you a poor employee. Period.

Recently I had two customer service experiences – in one a rental car was beeping in ways I could not fix and no one at the office answered the phone. In the other a web site did not perform as expected and I was not given the service I anticipated. When I pointed this out to “customer service” they said, “and what would you like me to do about it?”

They saw my intrusion on their peace as a big problem. They did not realize that it is their job to at least express some empathy and understanding of a customer’s perspective. They cannot undo what happened but they can acknowledge the legitimacy of the issue and even apologize.

This is the result when everyone begins to see their responsibility to perform their job as a problem.

Even if you take the position that this is a meaningless phrase that is now just in the current vernacular I beg to differ. “Problem” is a loaded word. Every time I hear that some getting me another cup of coffee is “not a problem” it rubs me the wrong way. And if I don’t come back to your restaurant, that is your problem, not mine.

You might counter that my sensitivity is “my problem” but again if you’re the one that is consciously or unconsciously considering service as a “problem” I suggest that the consequences will accrue to you.

Working with the public is no picnic but manifesting a self-serving attitude will not bode well for your future.

Risking the “when I was your age” cliché, there used to be a concept called “paying your dues.” When you paid your dues, you were happy to get an opportunity to work and believe me, under those circumstances, your attitude always conveyed that “nothing was a problem, glad to help.”

This is what I see so lacking today. I get it that college loans are overwhelming and challenging jobs are scarce, and many in my generation fill positions that could well be handled by younger workers.

I also believe this also grows out of the civil rights movement when it was said often and loud that “no one gives you your rights, they are yours by birth,” so that any suggestion that someone take a position of service is somehow demeaning and inappropriate. Young people seem to bristle at any suggestion that they should perform any task that they deem beneath them.

And there is also no question that when working with the public that there are those with unrealistic expectations and bad attitudes who may assert their power in ways that inappropriate, by being abusive, unreasonable or hostile. Certainly any human has a right to maintain his or her dignity under those circumstances.

However, when you are WORKING you loyalty is not to your inner peace, friends, task list or the voices in your head – it is to the client, customer or associate whose needs you are being paid to meet.

Therefore in no way shape or form is any request on their part, or need that is to be satisfied, a problem; rather it is an opportunity. It’s a vehicle for you to show you skills and demonstrate your willingness to help or comply in any reasonable manner.

It is a chance to show initiative, warmth, humor and intelligence.

So when someone appreciates your efforts and says “thank you” with sincerity, and especially if they drop a dollar into your tip jar, the appropriate response still is, and always will be, “you’re welcome.”

Link

Overview of Science and Duality Conference

menas spectrum Jac's diagramOverview of Science and Duality Conference

My overview of the amazing Science and Nonduality Conference in San Jose including the presentations Jay Kumar, Rupert Spira, Francis Lucille, and Deepak Chopra  and more. Excerpted from this month’s issue of Collective Evolution.

http://www.professorppt.com/SAND.pdf