Saturday, February 20, 2010


Love, in all its fragile forms, is the one powerful, enduring force that brings real meaning to our everyday lives…but the love I mean is the fire that burns inside us all, the inner warmth that prevents our soul from freezing in the winters of despair. –Bradley Grieves

I always thought of love as the exchange, the giving and the receiving of energy in the myriad forms of life exchanges. Knowing that we all experience love differently is what makes the exchanges so difficult for so many of us. Often unable to articulate what it would take for us to feel the love of our partner, we flail about in our relationships, feeling more emptiness than connection. We long to feel full of love but don’t know how to actually feel it when it’s aimed at us directly.

When love works, it is a transmission of goodness. It awakens the seed of goodness that lives in us. But many people do not get this transmission from the loving acts that other people offer them. It is not just a mental transfer that happens through words. Waking up the seed of our own loveliness is visceral. You feel it in your body. I remember learning that the love we extend happens through our heart center, and that the love we take in happens though our backs behind our heart. I am not alone with serious tightness and blockages behind my heart. Whether they are small compliments or deep gestures of generosity, learning to let the experience of being loved into our physical bodies is worthy of attention.

Opening up to receive love is only part of the work. In order for it to work its alchemical magic, there must be an internal space to hold this received love. This is how the seed of our own loveliness matures into a thriving energy that transforms our own life and can reach out to others. I never fully understood that while the process begins with the transmission of goodness from the outside, it is sustained by the container we create in ourselves for love to collect in us.

I never thought of myself as a chalice of love. Nor, have I really considered that all of the goodness that has come into me over the years has collected and grown there, making me more and more myself. For so long, I have focused on the exchange of loving gestures, that I never considered the paradigm that holds the love in you. Robin McKinley’s beautiful fable, Chalice, a story that captured my imagination recently is the perfect metaphor for this new discovery. When love is alchemy it transforms us from the inside out. As the honey chalice in her story portrays, for love to work its miracles it must be something that sticks in you. It is the ability to hold our own goodness, sparked by others, but growing in our own conception of ourselves that heals us. Contemplating myself as a chalice of love is something that I think may change everything.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Anything beyond the Universe-The theory of Everything

We think our destiny is to journey to Mars and beyond. Yet as we build our spacecraft, we're about to be broadsided - from a different direction - by the most explosive event in history.
Sometime in the future science will be able to create realities that we can't even begin to imagine. As we evolve, we'll be able to construct other information systems that correspond to other realities, universes based on logic completely different from ours and not based on space and time.
Immanuel Kant declared in 1781 that space and time were real, but only indeed as properties of the mind. These algorithms are not only the key to consciousness, but why space and time − indeed the properties of matter itself - are relative to the observer. But a new theory called biocentrism suggests that space and time may not be the only tools that can be used to construct reality. At present, our destiny is to live and die in the everyday world of up and down. But what if, for example, we changed the algorithms so that instead of time being linear, it was 3-dimensional like space? Consciousness would move through the multiverse. We'd be able to walk through time just like we walk through space. And after creeping along for 4 billion years, life would finally figure out how to escape from its corporeal cage. Our destiny would lie in realities that exist outside of the known physical universe.
Even science fiction is struggling with the implications. In "Avatar," human consciousness is infused into blue aliens that inhabit a wondrous world. However, according to biocentrism, replicating human intelligence or consciousness will require the same kind of algorithms for employing time and space that we enjoy. Everything we experience is a whirl of information occurring in our heads. Time is simply the summation of spatial states - much like the frames in a film - occurring inside the mind. It's just our way of making sense of things. There's also a peculiar intangibility to space. We can't pick it up and bring it to the laboratory. Like time, space isn't an external object. It's part of the mental software that molds information into multidimensional objects.
We take for granted how our mind puts everything together. When I woke up this morning, I was in the middle of a dream that seemed as real as everyday life. I remember looking out over a crowded port with people in the foreground. Further out, there were ships engaged in battle. And still further out to sea was a battleship with radar antenna going around. My mind had somehow created this spatio-temporal experience out of electrochemical information. I could even feel the pebbles under my feet, merging this 3D world with my 'inner' sensations. Life as we know it is defined by this spatial-temporal logic, which traps us in the universe with which we're familiar. Like my dream, the experimental results of quantum theory confirm that the properties of particles in the 'real' world are also observer-determined.
Loren Eiseley once wrote: "While I was sitting one night with a poet friend watching a great opera performed in a tent under arc lights, the poet took my arm and pointed silently. Far up, blundering out of the night, a huge Cecropia moth swept past from light to light over the posturings of the actors. 'He doesn't know,' my friend whispered excitedly. 'He's passing through an alien universe brightly lit but invisible to him. He's in another play; he doesn't see us. He doesn't know. Maybe it's happening right now to us.'"
Like the moth, we can't see beyond the footlights. The universe is just life's launching-pad. But it won't be rockets that take us the next step. The long-sought Theory of Everything was merely missing a component that was too close for us to have noticed. Some of the thrill that came with the announcement that the human genome had been mapped or the idea that we're close to understanding the Big Bang rests in our innate human desire for completeness and totality. But most of these comprehensive theories fail to take into account one crucial factor: We're creating them. It's the biological creature that fashions the stories, that makes the observations, and that gives names to things. And therein lies the great expanse of our oversight, that until now, science hasn't confronted the one thing that's at once most familiar and most mysterious - consciousness.
Reality is simply an information system that involves our consciousness. Until we understand ourselves, we will continue to blunder from light to light, unable to discern the great play that blazes under the opera tent.
Robert Lanza, MD is author of "Biocentrism," a new book that lays out his theory of everything.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Crumbling of America

Posted 28 October 2009 - 02:22 AM
America’s crumbling infrastructure
By Jeff Lassahn
28 October 2009

A January study by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “The 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” depicts the advanced decay of roads, bridges, water, and sewerage in the US. The report makes all the more glaring the Obama administration’s steadfast refusal to undertake a major public works program that could put the nation’s unemployed to work.

The study was was originally scheduled to be released in March, but ASCE released it early in an attempt to influence the debate over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $787 billion “stimulus package” ultimately allocated only $71.76 billion directly to construction projects, and most of this money has yet to be spent.

The report card gave an abysmal overall score of “D” for the state of American infrastructure, stating that the investment need in infrastructure over the next 5 years is $2.2 trillion, about 30 times what the Obama administration’s stimulus package has invested. The report estimates $903 billion will be provided in this period from government spending at all levels, making the funding shortfall for infrastructure needs over the next five years $1.176 trillion.

Since the report was released in January, economic conditions have likely eroded a substantial portion of estimated government spending on infrastructure. Tax revenues for states, localities, and the federal government have plummeted as millions lose jobs and businesses cut back. States across the country face unprecedented budget shortfalls, which has led to draconian cuts. Various states and cities have closed parks, reduced road maintenance, stalled long term road and rail projects, and put off critical water and sewerage investments.

Many of the states facing the worst economic conditions also have the most decrepit infrastructure. An astonishing 66 percent of California’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 68 percent of its urban interstates are congested. Of the state’s bridges, 30 percent are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. According to the report card, “California spends $2 billion less each year on highway maintenance and rehabilitation than is needed.”

The nation’s infrastructure has worsened since 2005, the report concludes. “US surface transportation and aviation systems declined over the past four years, with aviation and transit dropping from a D+ to D, and roads dropping from a D to a nearly failing D-,” it says. “Showing no significant improvement since the last report, the nation’s bridges, public parks and recreation, and rail remained at a grade of C, while dams, hazardous waste, and schools remained at a grade of D, and drinking water and waste water remained at a grade of D-. Just one category—energy—improved since 2005, raised its grade from D to D+.”

For the first time the ASCE report has included levees in its findings, giving them a grade of D-. It states that of the estimated 100,000 miles of levees across the country, many are more than 50 years old, and “the reliability of many of these levees is unknown.” Four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, a pitiful $1.13 billion in government spending is destined for levees over the next five years, compared to $50 billion dollars in need.

Dams, which provide critical energy and water resources, have been rapidly deteriorating. In 2001, the number of deficient dams was 1,384; by 2007, the number had nearly tripled to 4,095. The number of “high hazard” deficient dams has increased from 488 in 2001 to 1,826 in 2007. “Many state dam safety programs do not have sufficient resources, funding, or staff to conduct dam safety inspections, to take appropriate enforcement actions, or to ensure proper construction by reviewing plans and performing construction inspections,” the report notes.

The report finds that many drinking water systems—pipes, purification plants, and resources—are approaching or beyond service life, unreliable, and insufficient for growing needs. Thousands of ancient water mains and pipes will rupture over the next few months as cold weather stresses their aged cast iron to the breaking point. The report notes that leaking pipes “lose an estimated 7 billion gallons of clean drinking water a day.” At least $11 billion annually is needed to address these problems.

Waste water received a grade of D- for persistent problems of aging equipment and lack of investment. Clogged, broken, or insufficient drainage leads to 850 billion gallons of sewer overflow discharge per year, and as much as 10 billion gallons of raw sewage is released per year from sanitary sewer overflows, according to an EPA report from 2004.

It is ironic that much of the infrastructure falling apart in 2009 was put in place during the nation’s last great economic crisis, the Great Depression of the 1930s. Then, the Democratic president, Franklin Roosevelt, put in place significant public works programs associated with names like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Works Progress Administration. The aim was to forestall revolutionary change by putting millions to work.

While the social need for infrastructure is just as great as it was in the 1930s, the Obama administration insists that for the jobless crisis only “market solutions” can be considered.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Peace is the Way

Peace is the Way
Ten Steps to Peace Consciousness
(taken from Peace is the Way, by Deepak Chopra)

1. Change doesn't start on the surface. It's generated from consciousness. This has been true throughout history. If both Buddhism and Christianity could begin with one person, let us not think in terms of numbers and odds. It may sound grandiose to compare ourselves to great spiritual guides, but we act collectively, as an alliance. Our strength comes from critical mass.

2. We aren't here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as individuals and then to spread that influence. In the wisdom tradition of Vedanta, the stream of evolution is known in Sanskrit as Dharma, from a root verb that means 'to uphold.' This gives us a clue how to live: the easiest way for us to grow is to align ourselves with Dharma. We don't have to struggle to grow--that would be unproductive, in fact. The Dharma has always favored non-violence. If we can bring ourselves to a state of non-violence, and connect with others who are doing the same thing, we have done a huge thing to reinforce Dharma.

3. Societies get into the grip of their own self-created story. It's helpful to realize that we can choose not to participate in that story. Realize that national and tribal stories are limited, self-serving, based on the past, reinforced by orthodoxy, and therefore opposed to real change. Stories are incredibly persuasive. Wars are fueled by victimization that runs deep, for example. So let us not try to change anyone's story. Let us only notice and observe ourselves when we buy into it and then let us back away from participating in it.

4. Let us not demand of ourselves that we alone must be the agent of change. In a fire brigade everyone passes along a bucket, but only the last person puts out the fire. None of us know where we stand in line. We may be here simply to pass a bucket; we may be called on to play a major role. In either case, all we can do is think, act, and say. Let us direct our thoughts, words, and actions to peace. That is all we can do. Let the results be what they will be.

5. Let us realize that engagement and detachment aren't opposite—the more engaged we become, the more detached we will have to be. Otherwise, we will lose ourselves in conflict, obsessiveness, anxiety over the future, and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Keep in mind that we are pioneers into the unknown, and uncertainty is our ally. When our minds want closure, certainty, and finality, let us remind ourselves that these are fictions. Our joyous moments will come from riding the wave, not asking to get off at the next station.

6. Since most misery is born of failed expectations let us learn to minimize expectations so
that we will feel far less guilt and disappointment.

7. We aren't here to be good or perfect. We are here as the antennas for signals from the future. We are here to be midwives to something that wants to be born. Good people have preceded us. They solved some problems and created others. As one wise teacher said, "You aren't here to be as good as possible. You are here to be as real as possible."

8. I know this sounds difficult, but let us try to be tolerant of intolerance. This is a hard one at times, but if you try the opposite—showing a hard heart against those with hard hearts of their own—all we've done is expand the problem. It's helpful (but often difficult) to remember that everyone is doing the best they can form their own level of consciousness. Trying to talk a terrorist out of his
beliefs is like trying to persuade a lion to be a vegetarian. All we can realistically do is seek openings for higher awareness.

9. Let us resist the lure of dualities. These include us versus them, civilized versus barbarians, good versus evil. The good, civilized people of Europe managed to kill millions of themselves, along with millions of "them." In reality we are all in the same boat of human conflict and confusion. Sometimes it helps to admit that the doctor is not far from being a patient.

10. Let's create an atmosphere of peace around ourselves. Imagine that we are like a mother whose children come home crying about fights at school. Would it be her job to soothe their wounds or to arm them for fighting back tomorrow? Simplistic as it may sound, the male principle of aggression can only be healed by the feminine principle of nurturing and love.