Non-violent revolution

We can’t know what is happening on the streets of Cairo.  Our press is not free or ambitious enough to investigate deeply and report on the motivations of protestors, or the organizations that worked in the background to enable the current movement.

But given what we know, it looks quite hopeful.  It appears that people have come together, angry but not violent, to demand more democratic control over their government. 

Whatever will be the outcome of this uprising, it is not too early to celebrate its occurrence.

The Middle East has been a tinderbox for decades.  In the past five years, we have seen significant uprisings in Lebanon, Iran, Tunisia, and now Egypt.  These protests all  have one thing in common:  people screaming for more self-determination...Hosni Mubarak has been in power since 1981, taking control after the assassination of Anwar Sadat.  Mubarak’s stanglehold on the country wears thin, as he grows old, and rumors of his son ascending to the leadership position are rampant. Democracy activists feel this is their opportunity.  Mubarak is sick and weak, his son has yet to consolidate power, and with the economy in shambles, there may never be a moment such as this for Egyptian democracy.
        Read more from NeoAvatar...

 ...and if democracy comes to Egypt, can the USA be far behind?  

More than the anti-Soviet protests of the late 1980s, the Egyptian uprisings reveal what might eventually come home to the empire itself. Under the right conditions, and at the right time, there might come a time when the consciousness will dawn right here in the USA. It could happen here for the same reason it could happen anywhere.
        Read more from Lew Rockwell

1 February 2011

Chaos from order

 ‘The recognition that simple and fully deterministic rules or equations can generate dynamical patterns which are effectively indistinguishable from random noise has very deep implications for science.  It effectively marks the end of the Newtonian dream that knowing the rules will enable prediction.’

Robert M May

2 February 2011


If you can disentangle
yourself from your selfish self
all heavenly spirits
will stand ready to serve you.

If you can finally hunt down
your own beastly self
you have the right
to claim Solomon’s kingdom.

You are that blessed soul who
belongs to the garden of paradise.
Is it fair to let yourself
fall apart in a shattered house?

You are the bird of happiness
in the magic of existence.
What a pity when you let
yourself be chained and caged.

But if you can break free
from this dark prison named body
soon you will see
you are the sage and the fountain of life.

— Rumi, tr Nader Khahlil

3 February 2011

“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

— Mark Twain

4 February 2011

not to be hoodwinked by our genes

Physics and philosophy are our maps. They can be judged as true or false according to whether they correspond or do not correspond to fact. But mysticism (or religion) is a journey, and about a journey one does not ask whether it is true or false, but only where it goes. Will it take me to the goal?

Our problem is to reach the goal. To see beyond the screen. You remember that Swami Vivekananda said that the Universe is the Absolute seen through the screen of time, space, and causation. It’s no use asking how the Absolute became the Universe. The Absolute has not become the Universe any more than the rope has become a snake. Our problem is to see it straight. And you remember that Sri Ramakrishna said that maya is nothing but the egotism of the embodied soul. And that is genetic.

The prime directives of the genetic programming are to direct a stream of negative entropy upon ourselves and to pass on the genetic line. That is why we feel ourselves to be the doers of action and the enjoyers of its fruits. It is just a genetic mirage. The genes have us persuaded that by following their dictates we’ll reach the peace of the changeless, the freedom of the infinite, and the bliss of the undivided. They don’t have it to give. We don’t get the undivided; we get a family. You must have noticed.

Our problem is to reach the goal, and not be hoodwinked by the genes. But this is not a journey from one place to another in an actual world. It is a journey from one point of view to another. That is why it is often referred to as an “inner journey.” It is a journey from an erroneous point of view, dictated by the genes, to a point of view from which we can see through the genetic mirage

John Dobson

5 February 2011

In praise of truthiness

We lie to ourselves about our importance and our unique abilities.  As a community, we have myths and outright falsehoods that provide the common basis of our interactions and the choices we are called upon to make as a body.  If we held ourselves to a strict standard of truth, we would be dysfunctional, isolated and depressed.

Ethel and Esther were twins, separated at birth by a natural disaster and adopted into different homes.  Ethel was told by her parents that she would grow to be a world leader, thus it was important that she thought deeply about what she believed, practiced exemplary behaviors and cared consistently for herself and others.  Esther was taught that most of what happens in the world is beyond our control, and often beyond even our understanding.  We never really know what the consequences of our actions might be, and we must live each day knowing it might be our last.

Esther grew to be moody and sullen, with trouble concentrating and few friends.  Ethel grew to be gregarious, good-natured, hard-working and well-loved by everyone who knew her.  Neither of them accomplished anything of consequence.  On their 53rd birthday, Esther was driving from Bremen to Berlin at the same time that Ethel was driving from Berlin to Bremen.  Ethel hit a patch of ice, lost control of her car and swerved into Esther’s lane.  They were both killed instantly.

Based on a benign falsehood, Ethel had lived a full, engaged and happy life.  Esther had struggled with loneliness and depression rooted in a broad, realistic outlook on the world.

Caution:  You must not take the moral of this story to heart, nor should you believe any of what you have read above.  Though it may be true, it marks the beginning of a slippery slope, leading only to dissolution.  A habit of indulging small lies that are truly benign inevitably metastasizes into lying for convenience, and eventually you will retreat from reality sufficiently to make some disastrous misjudgment.

— Josh Mitteldorf

6 February 2011

Untouched by cars, plastic and antibiotics

There remain tribes of people who have never been visited by an anthropologist, let alone a drilling rig.  Most of them are in Brazil.  Not much is known about them, by definition.  Some have been photographed from the air.  Perhaps they are a potential source of information about our stone age forebears.

BBC article
Video from Brazil Indian Affairs Dept

If I had the opportunity to meet these people, what would I have to teach them that they might value?  The next steps in their development, historically ought to be agricultural monoculture and smelting copper.  I’m afraid they might not see the value of monoculture, and I wouldn’t know how to tell them to smelt copper.

But what might they teach me?  I imagine that they are sensitive to aspects of themselves that I’ve lost through disuse.  Perhaps they can navigate in the forest, and know how to get home, no matter how many times they’ve been turned around.  What herbs and forest remedies do they know about?  Perhaps they can smell each other’s emotions in a way that needs no words.  Perhaps they have intuitions or premonitions that tell them when a relative is in trouble and needs their help.  I would like to learn another way of paying attention to the ongoing experience of living in my body.

I don’t imagine that their society is peaceful, democratic, or tolerant of outsiders, but I could be surprised.

7 February 2011

Can I remember a time before I learned to be separate?

       In the Waiting Room

In Worcester, Massachusetts,
I went with Aunt Consuelo
to keep her dentist’s appointment
and sat and waited for her
in the dentist’s waiting room.
It was winter. It got dark
early. The waiting room
was full of grown-up people,
arctics and overcoats,
lamps and magazines.
My aunt was inside
what seemed like a long time
and while I waited I read
the National Geographic
(I could read) and carefully
studied the photographs:
the inside of a volcano,
black, and full of ashes;
then it was spilling over
in rivulets of fire.
Osa and Martin Johnson
dressed in riding breeches,
laced boots, and pith helmets.
A dead man slung on a pole
–“Long Pig,” the caption said.
Babies with pointed heads
wound round and round with string;
black, naked women with necks
wound round and round with wire
like the necks of light bulbs.
Their breasts were horrifying.
I read it right straight through.
I was too shy to stop.
And then I looked at the cover:
the yellow margins, the date.
Suddenly, from inside,
came an oh! of pain
–Aunt Consuelo’s voice–
not very loud or long.
I wasn’t at all surprised;
even then I knew she was
a foolish, timid woman.
I might have been embarrassed,
but wasn’t. What took me
completely by surprise
was that it was me:
my voice, in my mouth.
Without thinking at all
I was my foolish aunt,
I--we--were falling, falling,
our eyes glued to the cover
of the National Geographic,
February, 1918.

I said to myself: three days
and you’ll be seven years old.
I was saying it to stop
the sensation of falling off
the round, turning world.
into cold, blue-black space.
But I felt: you are an I,
you are an Elizabeth,
you are one of them.
Why should you be one, too?
I scarcely dared to look
to see what it was I was.
I gave a sidelong glance
–I couldn’t look any higher–
at shadowy gray knees,
trousers and skirts and boots
and different pairs of hands
lying under the lamps.
I knew that nothing stranger
had ever happened, that nothing
stranger could ever happen.

Why should I be my aunt,
or me, or anyone?
What similarities–
boots, hands, the family voice
I felt in my throat, or even
the National Geographic
and those awful hanging breasts–
held us all together
or made us all just one?
How–I didn’t know any
word for it–how “unlikely”. . .
How had I come to be here,
like them, and overhear
a cry of pain that could have
got loud and worse but hadn’t?

The waiting room was bright
and too hot. It was sliding
beneath a big black wave,
another, and another.

Then I was back in it.
The War was on. Outside,
in Worcester, Massachusetts,
were night and slush and cold,
and it was still the fifth
of February, 1918.

Elizabeth Bishop would have
     been 100 years old today.

8 February 2011

Elizabeth Bishop in 1916

Working for social change and working for personal growth

We sometimes hear from spiritual teachers that working for social change places a Band-aid on human suffering, that it doesn’t address the deep existential roots of the problems, and that it distracts us from our real spiritual work. This mirrors the comment of my activist friends that inner work is at worst a fundamental delusion and at best an escapist luxury – as Marx proclaimed, religion is the ‘opium of the people.’ To really address the roots of suffering, they say, we need to change economic, social, and political structures and ideologies.

...We don’t have to make an impossible choice between these two paths. We can bring them together. We can link deep inner work with action in the world, in which our spiritual values infuse our response to the needs of the world, whether we are community organizers, teachers, activists, lawyers, or parents.

The two paths need one another, and our times desperately call for both spiritual and social commitments.

— Donald Rothberg, from The Engaged Spiritual Life

9 February 2011

Community thrives in hard times

We believe our society has almost everything we need to build stronger communities, reduce inequality, live in harmony with the earth, and make a graceful transition to a new sustainable economy. But we won’t get there ignoring the data, and we won’t get there disconnected from one another.

There is no need to  face the future alone. Find your own “reality support group” (we’ll tell you how below). This year, make a resolution to deepen your relationships with people around you with whom you can face what’s coming down the pike.

Yes! Magazine article by Sarah Byrnes and Chuck Collins

10 February 2011

Who would have imagined that the computer’s earliest achievements would be in the domain of logical analysis, a capacity once held to be what made us most different from everything else on the planet? That it could fly a plane and guide a missile before it could ride a bike? That it could create plausible preludes in the style of Bach before it could make plausible small talk? That it could translate before it could paraphrase? That it could spin half-discernible essays on postmodern theory before it could be shown a chair and say, as most toddlers can, “chair”?

As computers have mastered rarefied domains once thought to be uniquely human, they simultaneously have failed to master the ground-floor basics of the human experience—spatial orientation, object recognition, natural language, adaptive goal-setting—and in so doing, have shown us how impressive, computationally and otherwise, such minute-to-minute fundamentals truly are.

We forget how impressive we are. Computers are reminding us.

— Brian Chrstian, writing in The Atlantic, describes his experience participating in the annual Loebner Prize competition. Experts are given 5 minutes converse IM-style on a keyboard with a human and with a computer impersonating a human, and their job is to tell which is which.

11 February 2011


WE are resolved into the supreme air,
  We are made one with what we touch and see,
With out heart’s blood each crimson sun is fair,
  With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree
Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.

With beat of systole and of diastole
 One grand great life throbs through earth’s giant heart,
And mighty waves of single Being roll
  From nerveless germ to man, for we are part
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.…

And we two lovers shall not sit afar,
  Critics of nature, but the joyous sea
Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star
  Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be
Parts of the mighty universal whole,
And through all aeons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul!

We shall be notes in that great Symphony
  Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
And all the live World’s throbbing heart shall be
  One with our heart; the stealthy creeping years
Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
The Universe itself shall be our Immortality!

— Oscar Wilde

12 February 2011

It may be argued whether virtue is its own reward. Sometimes virtue seems to be its only reward.

But when it comes to love: surely love is its own reward. To love is a richer, more wondrous experience by far than to be loved. The yearning to love leads always to elevation of the soul, while the pursuit of another’s love leads to degradation of the soul, often to humiliation and failure as well.

Resolving to love, you cannot fail. Pursuing the rainbow of another’s love, you can hardly succeed.

— Josh Mitteldorf

13 February 2011

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in  
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere  
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done  
by only me is your doing,my darling)  
     i fear  
not fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want  
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)  
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant  
and whatever a sun will always sing is you  

here is the deepest secret nobody knows  
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud  
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows  
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)  
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart  

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart

— e e cummings

14 February 2011

The Buddha’s Last Day

Thus have I heard. At one time, the Buddha was staying at Kusinagara in the land of the
Mallas, close to the river Ajitavati, where the twin sal trees stood. At that time, the great
bhiksus [monks] as many as 80 billion hundred thousand were with the Blessed One. They
surrounded him front and back. On the 15th of the second month, as the Buddha was about
to enter Nirvana, he, with his divine power, spoke in a great voice, which filled the whole world and reached the highest of the heavens. It said to all beings in a way each could understand: ‘Today, the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] the Alms-deserving and Perfectly Awakened One, pities, protects and, with an undivided mind, sees beings as he does his [son] Rahula. So, he is the refuge and house of the world. The greatly Awakened Blessed One is about to enter Nirvana. Beings who have doubts may all now put questions to him.’

At that time, there were present such women as Kuddara and such bhiksunis [nuns] as Subhadra, Upananda, Sagaramati, and 6 million bhiksunis. They were all great arhats. All ‘asravas’ [inner defilements] having been done away with, they were unmolested in mind and could act as they willed. They were parted from all illusion and all their sense-organs were subdued. Like great nagas, they were perfect in virtue. They were accomplished in the Wisdom of the All-Void. Also, early in the morning, after the sun had just risen, their hair stood on end all over their body and their blood so ran through their vessels that they looked like palasa flowers. Tears filled their eyes, which bespoke great sorrow. They desired to benefit beings, to give peace and bliss, and establish the Transcendent Truth of the All-Void of Mahayana. They meant to manifest what the Tathagata had by expediency latently taught, so that all his sermons would not disappear. In order to subjugate the minds of all beings, they sped to where the Buddha was, touched his feet, walked around him a 100 thousand times, folded their hands, paid homage, stepped back and sat on one side.

— from the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Suttra,
     tr f rom the Chinese by Kosho Yamamoto

Like so many religions, Buddhism began in a radical, mystical vision of the human experience and our place in the cosmos, and, as it achieved success, was subverted by the priests until it became a cult of superstitious ritual and human deification. This text was written down by high priests of Buddhist religion a thousand years after the event it purports to describe.  I find comic relief in the numerical hyperbole and the bald appeal for money in ¶1.  And yet there remain embedded in the text the elements that Westerners find so appealing in Buddhism: the value placed on conscious clarity, the imperative to transcend our logical minds, and an appeal not to the authority of doctrine but to the cultured examination of our own experience. 
– JJM 

Here is another take on politics and scandal in the death of the Buddha.

15 February 2011

Train the brain

 Ed Cooke: “Photographic memory is a detestable myth. Doesn’t exist. In fact, my memory is quite average. All of us here have average memories.”

That seemed hard to square with the fact that he knew huge chunks of “Paradise Lost” by heart. Earlier I watched him recite a list of 252 random digits as effortlessly as if it were his telephone number.

“What you have to understand is that even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly.”

Today we have books, photographs, computers and an entire superstructure of external devices to help us store our memories outside our brains, but it wasn’t so long ago that culture depended on individual memories. A trained memory was not just a handy tool but also a fundamental facet of any worldly mind. It was considered a form of character-building, a way of developing the cardinal virtue of prudence and, by extension, ethics. Only through memorizing, the thinking went, could ideas be incorporated into your psyche and their values absorbed...

Cooke and all the other mental athletes I met kept insisting that anyone could do what they do. It was simply a matter of learning to “think in more memorable ways,” using a set of mnemonic techniques almost all of which were invented in ancient Greece. These techniques existed not to memorize useless information like decks of playing cards but to etch into the brain foundational texts and ideas.

Joshua Foer writes in the NYTimes Magazine about training with a memory champ

16 February 2011

Genius and other brain disorders

Stefany Anne Golburg takes off from a medical article speculating on Chopin’s trances and hallucinations.

The diagnosis is distinctly medical. Chopin was having “hallucinations”. What many have read in [Georges] Sand’s words to be an example of Chopin’s mysterious genius are in truth the result of a neurological condition. Caruncho and Fernández present a laundry list of possible diagnoses that could account for the Chopin’s hallucinations: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, fever, migraine. Eventually, the authors decide that the best explanation for Chopin’s hallucinations is temporal lobe epilepsy...

The hallucinations of Frédéric Chopin” is thus in the tradition of what some call neurotheology, the attempt to medically explain spiritual experiences. The not-always-subtle subtext is that unexplainable visions, or other divine madnesses, have no place in our enlightened, modern world. Neurotheologists have never been comfortable with the idea that romantic visions exist, and far less comfortable with madness as the catalyst for works of genius...

In its romantic form, genius is irrational and beyond our control. In fact, true genius requires a loss of control. In a way, the romantics shift genius away from what we do and toward what we feel, from what we create to what we are experiencing. Thought of this way, genius is really a state of being, closer to a state of ecstasy.

Whether we call them reveries or hallucinations, (mostly) everyone agrees that Chopin had extraordinary visions of some kind that corresponded with distinct physical effects...The hallucinations and the man and the music are all one package...

In the end, Caruncho and Fernández say they want to separate romance from reality, but their diagnosis leads to a conclusion no less romantic, and no less religious, than the legend: that our own bodies can generate within us a sensation of the divine.

Listen to the Raindrop Prelude of Chopin
(performer unknown - copped from a Namco video game)

Read the rest of Stefany Anne Golburg’s essay

17 February 2011

Failure is not the opposite of success.  Failure is the vital ingredient in the recipe for success.

Mario Cortes

18 February 2011

Meditation -> Peace

Maharishi started to talk in the seventies about the results of a critical proportion of the population practicing meditation. He stated that one percent would have impact not just upon themselves and people immediately around them, but also they would have an impact on the collective consciousness. His prediction was that practice of meditation techniques would result in reduced violence in the community, and enhance positive cooperative behaviors.

I thought, okay, here’s a guy who’s making a claim that is extremely radical and he's made this technique accessible to research. There’s a challenge here. He even gave us numbers: 1% of a population at large, the square root of 1% if they practiced together in a group.

The idea is that once you have a number of people coming together in a group you intensify the impact of changes in consciousness that happen during meditation. The body, brain, mind, and heart are all aligned. In that state we can also align much more readily with each other. And we align more with those close to us, and that amplifies the effect. There’s literally a coherence not only in consciousness, but also that coherence is reflected in brain wave patterns, for example. With a large group you can have a constructive interference. It’s a common phenomenon in physics with waves of any type. A laser is a good example. If you have light wave emitting diodes emitting the same frequency then they’ll all fall into synchrony with each other so you get a much more powerful wave


That was a wonderful little study we did with a Lebanese medical doctor, Tony Nader. He had taught his patients in a village in the Schouf mountains to meditate. It was a small village, and before long, more than one percent of the population was meditating. This was a village previously subject to the continuous violence that plagued the whole area. But then there were just no more bombs in that village, even though the level of bombing continued, and even increased in both Muslim and Christian villages nearby. Because Dr. Nader was aware of the Harvard-led research in the area on the impact of meditation, he checked out the statistics maintained by the police on bombing. The only thing that had slowed the bombing over the last several years was heavy snow in the winter. People would pack up their guns for the winter when there was snow in the mountains. The statistics showed that when one percent of the population meditated, the bombing stopped, and relative peace was sustained from then on, snow or not.

Interview with John Davies in Yoga International

19 February 2011

If I were your best friend...

...I would ask you what you most want. I would be patient while you asked unselfishly for boons that benefited others. I would encourage you when you modestly constrained yourself to requests that seemed possible and reasonable. I would stay with you, using phrases like “imaginary world” and “daydream” until you named your aspiration, perhaps with great embarrassment, then qualified it immediately as self-centered and unreasonable. It would then be my task to convince you that what you wished was neither selfish nor impossible, that it was a reasonable aspiration. I would tell you to go for it, and cheer you on.

…kinda makes me wish I were your best friend.  But what’s the use?  That’s just an idle fantasy.

— Josh Mitteldorf

20 February 2011

Hymn to the United Nations

With his inimitable mix of hopefulness and skepticism, W. H. Auden wrote this poem for the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations in 1971.  Pablo Casals set the words to music, and Leopold Stokowski orchestrated the result.

Eagerly, musician.
Sweep your string,
So we may sing.
Elated, optative,
Our several voices
Playfully contending,
Not interfering
But co-inhering,
For all within
The cincture
of the sound,
Is holy ground
Where all are brothers
None faceless Others,
Let mortals beware
Of words, for
With words we lie,
Can say peace
When we mean war,
Foul thought speak- fair
And promise falsely,

But song is true:
Let music for peace
Be the paradigm,
For peace means to change
At the right time,
As the World-Clock
Goes Tick- and Tock.
So may the story
Of our human city
Presently move
Like music, when
Begotten notes
New notes beget
Making the flowing
Of time a growing
Till what it could be,
At last it is,
Where even sadness
Is a form of gladness,
Where fate is freedom,
Grace and Surprise.

W. H. Auden, born this day in 1907

Choice of attention - to pay attention to this and ignore that -
is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer.

21 February 2011

Father of his country counsels international friendship, reluctance to wage war

It is well known that Peace has been (to borrow a modern phraze) the order of the day with me, since the disturbances in Europe first commenced. My policy has been, and wil continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfil our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so; and that nothing short of self respect, and that justice which is essential to a national character, ought to involve us in War; for sure I am, if this country is preserved in tranquility twenty years longer, it may bid defiance, in a just cause, to any power whatever, such, in that time, will be its population, wealth, and resource.

— George Washington, Letter to Gouverneur Morris, December 22, 1795

22 February 2011

All the terms used in the science books, ‘law,’  ‘necessity,’ ‘order,’ ‘tendency,’ and so on, are really unintellectual .... The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, ‘charm,’ ‘spell,’ ‘enchantment.’ They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched. I deny altogether that this is fantastic or even mystical. We may have some mysticism later on; but this fairy-tale language about things is simply rational and agnostic.

— G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter IV: The Ethics of Elfland, 1909

23 February 2011


Robert Lanza is head of research at a company that is at the forefront of stem cell technology.  He has written a book that goes way beyond the ‘next thing’ in medical science to re-interpret our relationship to the Universe. 

His starting point is in two profound discoveries from 20th Century physics. 

  • From quantum mechanics, we know that the ‘real world out there’, the objective reality of the physical world, is an untenable viewpoint.  The state of the world can only be defined in terms of an  ‘observer’.  Does the observer have to be a conscious entity? Physicists differ on this question, but many say  ‘yes’ and Lanza takes that yes as a starting point: the only reality is one that is consciously observed.
  • From cosmology:  Description of the Big Ban developed over the last 50 years has led to the conclusion that our existence is highly contingent.  There are dozens of ways in which the Universe seems to be fine-tuned to make it possible for interesting things to happen, leading to life.  In other words, there are a whole lot of possible universes that are very, very much like ours in the way their physical laws and the way they start off, but they are utterly dull and uniform, with no possibility of stars or planets or anything interesting happening in them.

Lanza takes these facts not as peculiar things to be tacked on to an old worldview but as the foundation of a new worldview.  It’s a picture that may reconcile science and mysticism.

Biocentrism unlocks the cage where we have unwittingly confined ourselves. A new paradigm is usually considered nonsense from within the existing paradigm. But allowing the observer into the equation opens new approaches to understanding everything from the tiny world of the atom to our views of life and death. Above all, biocentrism offers a more promising way to bring together all of science as scientists have been attempting to do ever since Einstein. Until we recognize the universe in our heads, attempts to truly understand the world will remain a road to nowhere.

      — Lanza in a HuffPo article                 

Biocentrism on Google Books

24 February 2011


IF the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
For when they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1856

25 February 2011

It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a universe without physicists, and physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an atom’s way of knowing about atoms.

George Wald

26 February 2011

Wisdom from our own hearts, via a circuitous path

What is the advice that we urgently wish to convey to our children, or to others most dear to us?  Frequently, the answer is what we most need to hear for ourselves.

— Josh Mitteldorf

27 February 2011

IPS cells have arrived

Dear Readers,
    I beg you to forgive me for not being on top of this story and delivering it to you nearly two years ago when the first paper came out.  Today I discovered that a medical revolution is further along than I had realized.  The fact that this was a well-anticipated breakthrough shouldn’t detract from our excitement. There are few obstacles remaining before dramatic advances in regenerative medicine.
    To review: A stem cell is a cell that is able to grow into any kind of tissue in the body - nerve or bone or heart or liver or pancreas.  It is already well-established that most tissues are self-organizing, and that cells know how to form themselves into tissues and, with scaffolding, into entire organs. 
     Stem cells had been extracted from foetuses for several years, but IPS represents a far more powerful and useful technology.  The ‘I’ stands for ‘induced’: ordinary cells from a person’s skin are induced to change back into stem cells.  ‘P’ is for pluripotent: these stem cells are capable not just of becoming more skin cells, but of becoming any kind of cell.

But recently we’ve seen a perfect storm of incredible advances in biology that changes everything. It is now possible to take adult cells, from the skin for example, and to transform them into stem cells, which can then be converted into complete individuals. It works quite well for mice, and there is every reason to think it would also work for humans.

How is this cloning through stem cells accomplished? The breakthrough was Shinya Yamanaka’s discovery that it is possible to treat adult cells with a special gene expression cocktail that turns them into the functional equivalent of embryonic stem cells. Stem cells, as the name suggests, are able to branch in many different developmental directions, to give rise to heart, nerve, liver, or other cell types. In the field of medicine, this is like the ancient alchemist somehow succeeding in turning lead into gold. Stem cells offer great promise in the regeneration and repair of diseased or damaged organs...
ScienceBlog  by Steve Potter

Lecture by Shinya Yamanaka, who discovered the lab technique

28 February 2011

Queen of Hearts — Archive of past entries. Bullfrog Design