Romantic love tends to light up the same reward areas of the brain that are activated by cocaine. But new research shows that selfless love—a deep and genuine wish for the happiness of others—actually turns off the brain’s reward centers.
“When we truly, selflessly wish for the well-being of others, we’re not getting that same rush of excitement that comes with, say, a tweet from our romantic love interest, because it’s not about us at all,” says Judson Brewer, adjunct professor of psychiatry at Yale University now at the University of Massachusetts.
As reported in the journal Brain and Behavior, the neurological boundaries between these two types of love become clear in fMRI scans of experienced meditators.
The reward centers of the brain that are strongly activated by a lover’s face (or a picture of cocaine) are almost completely turned off when a meditator is instructed to silently repeat sayings such as “May all beings be happy.”
Such mindfulness meditations are a staple of Buddhism and are now commonly practiced in Western stress reduction programs.
The tranquility of this selfless love for others—exemplified in such religious figures such as Mother Teresa or the Dalai Llama—is diametrically opposed to the anxiety caused by a lovers’ quarrel or extended separation. And it carries its own rewards.
“The intent of this practice is to specifically foster selfless love—just putting it out there and not looking for or wanting anything in return,” Brewer says.
“If you’re wondering where the reward is in being selfless, just reflect on how it feels when you see people out there helping others, or even when you hold the door for somebody the next time you are at Starbucks.”
Source: Yale University
Originally published on www.futurity.org
I have moved in their footsteps as in a waking dream where the fragrance from a full-blown
peony is no longer a fragrance but a shimmer; where the deep red color of a maple leaf
in autumn is not a color but a privilege; where a country is no longer a place but a
lullaby. And where an outstretched hand is no longer just a gesture, but
a moment of love that continues into sleep,
into awakening, into everyday life.
~ Kim Thuy
(This is my translation, I’ve read her book Ru and these lines are just so beautiful. I guess that if you want the exact translation you have to read her book. And that is not a waste of time…)
Teaching schoolchildren happiness, empathy, altruism and compassion has proven beneficial results for classroom learning as a whole, says Vinciane Rycroft.
As educators, we have a genuine wish to contribute to a happier society. And yet, we sometimes wonder how we can keep this intention alive and make it a reality.
Do you remember this letter written by a Holocaust survivor? It said: “My eyes saw what no person should witness: gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot by high school and college graduates. So, I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your children become human.”
A few of us like-minded educators met in the late-90s during mindfulness retreats that we attended regularly in France and in the UK. We were young and looking to live by values of peace and compassion, in a way that was neither cranky nor hairy fairy. What are the qualities that make the Nelson Mandelas and the Dalai Lamas of this world? Could we cultivate such qualities in ourselves and impact the young people around us?
By Tara MacIsaac
The pineal gland in the human brain has the structure of an eye. It has cells that act as light receptors, as the retina does. It has a structure comparable to the vitreous—a gel-like substance between the retina and lens of the eye. It has a structure similar to a lens.
Scientists are still learning much about the pineal body, known in both Eastern spiritualism and Western philosophy as the seat of human consciousness. Eastern beliefs also hold that, on other plains of existence, eyes may be seen all over the body. Western science is slowly coming to understand the pineal body as a third eye.
For many years, scientists have recognized the similarities between the pineal body and the eyes. In 1919, Frederick Tilney and Luther Fiske Warren wrote that the similarities listed above prove the pineal gland was formed to be light-sensitive and possibly to have other visual capabilities.
More recently, in 1995, Dr. Cheryl Craft, chair of the department of cell and neurobiology at the University of Southern California, wrote about what she called the “mind’s eye.”
“Under the skin in the skull of a lizard lies a light-responsive ‘third eye’ which is the … equivalent of the bone-encased, hormone-secreting pineal gland in the human brain. The human pineal is denied access to light directly, but like the lizard’s ‘third eye,’ it shows enhanced release of its hormone, melatonin, during the night,” she wrote. “The pineal gland is the ‘mind’s eye.’”
A bundle of nerve fibers connects it to the posterior commissure, another part of the brain that is not well-understood.
In the 1950s, researchers discovered the pineal body’s ability to detect light, and to produce melatonin according to the amount of light it detects. In this way, it essentially controls important rhythms in the body. It affects the reproduction and immune systems. The pineal body was previously thought to be vestigial, but this discovery showed it actually has an important function.
In May 2013, another discovery was made that could change the way the pineal body is viewed.
It was found that a rat’s pineal body produces N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT has a widespread presence in organic beings that is not well-understood. Some people ingest DMT to induce psychedelic experiences often characterized as intensely spiritual.
Dr. Rick Strassman conducted U.S. government-approved clinical research at the University of New Mexico in the 1990s, injecting human volunteers with DMT. He calls DMT the “spirit molecule.”
The study that confirmed the presence of DMT in the pineal glands of rats was conducted at the University of Michigan by Dr. Jimo Borjigin and at Louisiana State University by Dr. Steven Barker. It was partially funded by the Cottonwood Research Foundation, which is headed by Dr. Strassman and which supports scientific research into the nature of consciousness. It was published in the journal Biomedical Chromatography.
In quantum physics, one of the most enduring mysteries is known as the double-slit experiment, which renowned physicist Richard Feynman described as containing “the only mystery.”
So what’s so mysterious about it?
This requires a bit of setup: If you take a light-tight box, and inside shoot photons (basically units of light) through one slit onto photographic paper, you’ll see a pattern where it’s darkest right in the middle, and gets fainter as you move toward the edges. Basically, it’s what you would expect: most of the light hits the middle, and the rest of the photons get deflected to various degrees and stray from the middle in predictable ways.
If you change your apparatus and introduce a second slit, and shoot photons through it, you’ll now get an interference pattern—alternating bands of dark and light. What’s happening is the light is acting like a wave on its way to the photographic plate, and the two beams of light are interfering with each other. Sometimes they reinforce each other, and sometimes they cancel each other out.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting: if you shoot one photon at a time through the device, but don’t know which slit the photon goes through, you still get the interference pattern!
But if you shoot one at a time, and you know which slit it goes through, you’ll just get two clusters, like when there’s only one slit open, but in two places.
Numerous theoretical explanations have been offered to explain this mystery, some of which propose that the act of observation by a conscious entity—a mind—plays a crucial role. The act of observation, in effect, alters the state of matter at the quantum level.
This is controversial, probably because it doesn’t fit with the prevailing scientific worldview that matter and energy are primary, and consciousness is more or less something extra, and has nothing to do with the most basic constituents of the universe. If mind isn’t just as fundamental as matter, how could it affect matter at a quantum level?
There are problems with the view that matter is primary and consciousness comes later, but the best way to demonstrate that is probably with experiments, rather than philosophical arguments. (After all, such philosophical arguments have been going on for a long, long time.)
What if it could be shown experimentally that consciousness can affect the results of the double-slit experiment?
The Experimental Evidence
Enter Dean Radin and colleagues, who carried out a series of six experiments demonstrating just this.
Participants were first familiarized with the double-slit experiment by watching a 5-minute animation, then they were brought into an electrically shielded steel room, sat down a few meters from the double-slit apparatus, and were given instructions to try to influence the beam when told to do so.
During randomly assigned periods lasting from 15 to 30 seconds, participants were cued to relax or to try to influence the apparatus. Each session lasted about 15 minutes, not including instruction.
Radin and colleagues found that during those periods when participants were attending to the device, the interference pattern was significantly reduced, compared to when the device was active but no one was present. That means it looked more like when there’s knowledge of which slot the light passed through.
They controlled for various factors, such as electrical shielding, temperature, and vibration, but none of these could explain away the results: focused attention influenced the pattern of light.
And how good one is at focusing turns out to be an especially important factor. Participants’ amount of meditation experience made all the difference as to whether they could affect the pattern or not—those who did not practice meditation on average failed to show a statistically significant effect.
Somehow, those who regularly practice focusing their attention can have more of an effect on this quantum phenomenon.
This brings up a host of new questions: how does focused attention affect this or other phenomena? Are these meditation practitioners different than other people, or is it the meditation itself that produces the effects? If it is amount of practice, what exactly is it about meditation that produces this capability?
Regardless of the answers to those questions, these six experiments present strong statistical evidence that meditators are capable of influencing quantum events. To get these results by chance, you’d have to run the same set of experiments 150,000 times. In contrast, for most psychology studies, if you would arrive at a particular result by chance one out of 20 times, it is considered a valid effect.
Radin and colleagues also examined whether fluctuations in the Earth’s geomagnetic field might be responsible for the results, because previous studies have shown that these magnetic variations are linked to various phenomena related to human behavior, such as stock market activity, suicides, and cardiac health, as well as differences in performance on extra-sensory perception (ESP) tasks.
They found that the results of these experiments are not explained by these variations, but the variations contributed to how strong the effects were, thus further validating that both these geomagnetic influences and the effect on the double-slit experiment are real.
The study was published in Physics Essays, June 2012.
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Near death experiences NDEs have been reported through the ages by those who were near death—or thought they were—and then return.
Though these experiences are not all the same, they have many distinctive hallmarks: seeing a tunnel of light; seeing loved ones who have passed away; feeling bliss or euphoria; having a heightened sense of cognition; feeling a sense of great love; reviewing one’s whole life, often in a very short period of time; and feeling as if the soul has left the body. NDEs also tend to transform the lives of those who experience them—leading them to try to become better people.
These rich, interesting experiences have provoked the question of whether we truly do have souls, or if our consciousness is only a product of the brain. As brain science advances, there are an increasing number of claims that NDEs can be explained by neuroscience alone, thus obviating any need for an explanation based on the soul.
But how well do these explanations from neuroscience hold up?
One very important piece of information is that about half of NDEs occur when individuals think they are going to die, but are not actually medically close to death. So for example, if someone fell off a building, and thought they were going to die, but only sustained minor injuries. This means that if we’re looking to the brain to explain all the different elements of NDEs, we need an explanation that accounts situations where the person is actually dying, and those where there is no real threat of death, in terms of one’s medical condition.
A common explanation that has been advanced by some scientists is that when the brain is deprived of oxygen, you can expect various patterns of response, particularly a sense of bright light in your center of vision. This kind of experience can indeed be induced by a lack of oxygen, but the problem is, not all NDEs involve anoxia, yet many still have the sense of a tunnel of light.
Furthermore, when the brain is out of oxygen, it starts firing rapidly in a disorganized fashion—it’s not working properly. From our knowledge of the brain, we would not expect organized experience in this state, but a jumble perhaps akin to what one might find in seizures or in mental illness—other examples of the brain not working correctly.
But what we get are vivid, organized, transformational experiences—people report that their NDEs feel “more real than real,” they feel free, that they understand the universe at a deep level, and have never been happier. This can happen both when the brain is not in immediate danger, and when it’s under severe duress because of a life-threatening situation.
Interestingly, when the brain is close to death, there is a higher incidence of cognitive enhancement—the mind feels unfettered and able to process more thoughts than usual. That we would find enhanced cognition under deprived conditions for the brain does not square with our understanding of brain function.
Another brain-based explanation is that the out-of-body experience (OBE) portion of NDEs is caused by a misfiring at the temporal-parietal junction, a region of the brain thought to be responsible for forming one’s body concept.
The evidence that this region is responsible for the feeling of people leaving their bodies and perceiving the nearby surroundings—sometimes nearby rooms and areas—is surprisingly weak. The most-often mentioned study, by Blanke and colleagues, is based on one patient, and the patient’s explanations indicated that though she felt like she was not in her body, she only saw her legs and her trunk—which she would have been able to see anyway.
The study only demonstrated that electrically stimulating this part of the brain can make people feel like they’re not in their body, but doesn’t produce any of the other perceptual qualities of an OBE, like seeing their entire body, floating around the room, and seeing the surrounding environment. In short, it failed to elicit anything qualitatively close to the out-of-body component of an NDE.
Explanations for the life review—a phenomenon where the person’s life is reviewed, sometimes in great detail, and they feel remorse for selfish acts and satisfied with their “good” actions—are also particularly lacking.
One explanation, in a Scientific American article by Charles Choi, suggests that the brain region responsible for the life review is likely the locus coeruleus, an area that is involved in stress and is connected to areas that process emotion and memory. However, why would this area evoke an entire life’s worth of memories during death—or when death is thought imminent—and not elicit any memories during other extreme stress? And how does it explain the new moral insights that often accompany this aspect of an NDE?
Another article, by Mobbs and Watt, appearing in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, attempts to explain the life review by citing a single patient who exhibited REM (a characteristic state during dreaming) during an NDE. They conclude that the life review is probably related to REM because it happened during the NDE and is also associated with consolidation of memory.
One critical flaw with this argument is that REM has only been shown to be involved with the consolidation of procedural memories—things like learning a new skill such as riding a bike—and not for episodic memories that constitute the memories of one’s lifetime, as revisited in a life review.
Another major problem with the explanation, just like with the out-of-body example, is that it relies on only one patient. Relying on one example to make a generalization in a case like this is simply bad science, because you can’t know if it’s an exceptional situation.
Mobbs and Watt also try to explain the presence of loved ones who have passed away, giving the example that people with extreme Parkinson’s disease will sometimes hallucinate headless corpses, monsters, and ghosts, as well as dead relatives. Parkinson’s involves a problem with areas of the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, and the authors suggest that these hallucinations arise from a dopamine imbalance.
The problem with this is that almost all NDE cases report positive experiences, and feelings of love and bliss—not headless corpses. While there are some cases where people apparently experience something like hell and demons, the majority of cases are not this way.
A more significant problem is that in Parkinson’s disease cases, there is an awareness that these are hallucinations, whereas those with NDEs feel that it is real. This would, at the very least, suggest a different neural pathway.
A good explanation from neuroscience needs to not only actually account for each individual phenomenon, but do so in a way that combines them and explains how they happen together.
Another explanation offered for NDEs is confabulation—that these experiences are concocted by the mind as a way of explaining a gap in consciousness. This has been offered by biologist P.Z. Myers, a noted skeptic.
Myers says that when people come back from clinical death and recount a story it doesn’t mean they were aware during the time of clinical death, it could just be the brain’s way of accounting for the lost time. In fact, he claims that this is the “the default understanding by neuroscientists of how the brain works,” in an article posted on Slate.
This explanation suffers from the same major problem as the other neuroscience explanations: about half of NDEs don’t happen in truly life-threatening situations, meaning these people didn’t go unconscious at all, and thus there’s no gap to account for.
The other problem is that confabulation sounds plausible at first, but in the scientific literature, confabulation of fantastic or extraordinary events—which an NDE would be considered—only happens in people with severe memory problems.
People who have recently had some sort of brain trauma and have trouble both learning new information and remembering old information will sometimes confabulate stories to explain things. These are occasionally quite fantastic, such as being a space pirate, but share little in common with NDE-type experiences.
The explanation suffers other weaknesses, as well. For one, this kind of confabulation goes away over time. Two, the stories often change. And three, they don’t have any qualities of ineffability, a hallmark of NDEs—that is, people try to explain what they went through, but acknowledge that words really aren’t adequate for describing the experience.
So confabulation is a kind of cheap explanation—it might sound good at first, but doesn’t fit with what’s known about confabulation, and completely fails to account for half of NDEs.
It is important to try to explain these phenomena through known mechanisms, because we don’t want to falsely believe in things, but we also have to acknowledge weaknesses or when an argument entirely fails.
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By Henry Jom
Jon Robson gets to the root of symptoms of illness—the patient’s state of mind.
Robson began studying an integrative system of healthcare called “meta-medicine” in 2008 and founded Meta-Medicine USA in 2012. Compelled and inspired by his mother’s passing at an early age, and having a family history of chronic diseases, Robson set out to find a way to help people with chronic diseases.
He wanted to find a healthcare system that went beyond just managing symptoms and medicating patients for life.
Robson said in an interview with Epoch Times: “Disease is not a natural state the human body should be in. I believe that health and vitality are the natural states of the body.”
How a Patient Healed Heart Disease With His Mind
Robson had a client who had heart disease. After this client had a heart attack, Jon guided him with meta-medicine, and was able to help him understand the stresses in his life that manifested in his body as heart disease.
“[The client was able] to dissolve those stresses he was experiencing. He resolved his life stresses and his heart healed.”
Manifestation of Self-Loathing: Body Literally Attacks Itself
Robson also had a client who had Systemic lupus erythematosis. Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to essentially attack itself.
It’s underlying cause is not fully known. MedLine Plus explains: “It is where the immune system believes that certain tissues and organs in the body are cancerous and it then attacks itself.”
Robson helped this client by asking deeper questions: “Why is this body attacking itself? What deeper resentment do they have for themselves?”
After careful analysis, he discovered that this client devalued herself. She had put her mother on a pedestal, and felt she was herself unworthy.
Robson explained, “[The client] grew into systemic lupus. [This] systematically broke down her body because she didn’t feel worthy of love and had deeper anger toward herself.”
Jon taught the client to love and appreciate herself. He helped the client see that the positive characteristics she attributed to her mother she actually had in her own unique form and style within her own personality. This client’s disease went into remission. Her body healed.
“Their outer world changed, purely because they changed from within,” Robson said.
When asked how Meta-medicine relates to Buddhism or spiritual disciplines that teach looking within one’s mind and heart to find the root of problems, Robson said his treatment is similar in that, “[it] lets you see the specific moments which are taking you out of truth, and through that coaching process that brings you back to truth, transformation occurs.”
He said: “Your physical body is a perfect reflection of your mind.”
By Pure Insight
Reincarnation. Fact, fallacy, superstition or simply coincidence? Those stories of people with super-minds; minds that delve into the past, minds that have the power to move objects and perceive things the rest of us cannot with our ordinary senses; minds that operate independently of the body. Since ancient times, these enigmas have intrigued rational people but only back in the 1970s are scientists, the Mind Detectives, beginning to understand something of the mysteries at work inside of us.
Do we have one life only or several? Have you ever experienced that feeling of déjà vu or a sense of “been here before”? According to mind detectives, we have experienced many previous lives in the past and we’ll go on being born again, into other forms, until we reach an absolute state.
Here are three interesting cases of experts’ experience on the subject of reincarnation. Below is Part I
Case Study 1 – the Bloxham tapes
Arnall Bloxham was a Welsh hypnotherapist from back in the 1970s who, over a 20-year period, hypnotized a few hundred people and recorded what appear to be descriptions of previous lives. Do the Bloxham tapes prove reincarnation or can they be explained in some other way? Arnall Bloxham is an expert in what hypnotists call ‘past lives regression experiments.’ Under hypnosis he can take a person back to the moment of his or her birth, and even beyond that. Bloxham was the president of the British Society of Hypnotherapists then and he was using hypnosis to cure people of physical ailments, like smoking, for instance.
What happens during his experiments on hypnotic regression defies common human logic. His clients could relate, in meticulous detail, lives of people who existed hundreds of years ago.
As unbelievable as it may seem, Bloxham produced over 400 tape recordings of hypnotized subjects reliving their previous lives. In addition, many detailed records, cross-references from these tapes, have been substantiated as facts. According to Bloxham, this strong evidence strongly supports the ancient belief of reincarnation as the truth.
One of Bloxham’s high-profile cases is that of Jane Evans. Jane’s regression into her past lives began in 1971 when she saw a poster that reads: “Arnall Bloxham says rheumatism is psychological.” Jane, a 32-year-old Welsh housewife who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, found the statement incredible, so she decided to get in touch with the man responsible for this poster. Indeed she did, through a friend of her husband. And ultimately got in touch with six of her past lives as well. They were: as a tutor’s wife in Roman times; as a Jew who was massacred in the 12th century in York; as the servant of a French medieval merchant prince; as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon; as a poor servant in London during the reign of Queen Anne; and as a nun in 19th-century America.
The story of Jane Evans and several other examples of reincarnation were brought to light by BBC television producer, Jeffrey Iverson in his book, “More Lives Than One?” In 1975, in pursuing verification of the theory of reincarnation, Iverson asked Jane’s permission to let Bloxham hypnotize her again into regression, this time in the presence of a BBC television camera and tape recorder. Iverson then set out to uncover whether she did, in fact, have more lives than one.
Iverson researched the detail of these lives and verified that the details of Jane Evans’ recorded regressions were indeed founded on fact. At the end of the book he considers that Bloxham’s 20 years of work signify strong support for the concept of reincarnation. He also produced a BBC documentary film, called “The Bloxham Tapes” based on all these materials.
Case Number 2 - Dr. Arthur Guirdham’s Cathars
Skeptics have attributed this phenomenon to what mind detectives call “cryptomnesia,” a term that simply means remembering facts you forgot you ever knew! If such a distant memory could be culled from a person’s mind, it might logically explain Jane Evan’s supposed ‘reincarnation.’
However, for Dr. Arthur Guirdham, Britain’s other great authority on reincarnation, this explanation cannot account for the cases he had seen and heard. Dr. Guirdham relates these experiences in his books, “We Are One Another,” “The Cathars & Reincarnation” and his autobiography, “A Foot in Both Worlds.”
Dr. Guirdham, a retired national health psychiatrist in the U.K., heads a small group of people who believe that they were Cathars in their past lives, a heretical religious group which existed in the Languedoc area of south-west France in the 13th century.
The incident that led to Dr. Guirdham’s reincarnation theory began in Bath, 1962, in a hospital’s outpatient department, where Dr. Guirdham worked as a psychiatrist. His last patient on one particular day was an attractive, apparently normal young woman who had had a recurring nightmare occasionally since her teens, but was now experiencing it two or three times a week. In her dream she was lying on her back on the floor while a man approached her from behind. She did not know what was going to happen but was absolutely terrified.
Although Dr. Guirdham remained calm and detached, he had to hide his surprise while listening to his new patient for the woman was describing the same nightmare that had plagued him, too, for more than 30 years. The doctor was intrigued but said nothing to his patient. She never had the nightmare again and, as for Dr. Guirdham, his dream stopped within a week of meeting this new patient.
Their meetings continued, though. Dr. Guirdham was certain there was nothing mentally wrong with his patient and her knowledge of the past intrigued him. Later she gave him a list of names of people she said had existed in the 13th century and described things that happened to them. She also told Dr. Guirdham that he, too, had been alive then and was called Rogiet de Cruisot.
As a psychiatrist, Dr.Guirdham had picked up some basic information about the theory of reincarnation, but never had much interest in the subject. Nevertheless, intrigued by this case, he decided to investigate. He found that the names given to him by his patient were indeed accurate, though only mentioned in fairly obscure history records of the Middle Ages. Those records had been written in French though, and had never been translated into English. The people Dr. Guirdham’s patient described were all members of the Cathar sect, a group that had flourished in southern France and northern Italy in the Middle Ages. Among other things, the Cathars believed in reincarnation. Over time, Dr Guirdham met more and more individuals, 11 in total, who had memories of their past lives living together in a Cathar group.
None of the subjects were drugged or hypnotized; past names and incidents simply appeared in their minds, said Dr Guirdham. Dr Guirdham also produced one of the most remarkable pieces of evidence he had. It was the sketchpad of a seven-year-old girl, containing drawings of a bygone era. The sketchpad also includes many members’ names of the Cathar sect. Amazed, Dr Guirdham said, “It’s beyond me how a 7-year-old child could know these names when I shouldn’t think there was an expert in medieval history in England at the time who knew them.”
The sheer amount of memories, names and contacts convinced the doctor that he and his group had all lived together, not just once, but several lifetimes before. He said, “With 40 years of experience in medicine, it is either that I know the difference between a clairvoyant’s experience and a schizophrenic one or I am psychotic myself. None of the people in my group is mad in any way – and none of my colleagues have found me psychotic.”
Case Number 3 - Dr. Ian Stevenson, University of Virginia
If the world’s top experts on reincarnation were to be named, Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia would be on that list. He has traveled all over the world to investigate various reports of reincarnation and has devised a rigorous test to rule out fraud, cryptomnesia, etc. Out of 200, only 20 cases survived this tough test by Dr. Stevenson to be suggestive of possible cases of reincarnation. Seven of these cases occurred in India, three in Sri Lanka, two in Brazil, one in the Lebanon and seven among a tribe of Indians in Alaska.
Take the case of a very young girl, born in 1956 in central Sri Lanka with a tongue-twisting name of Gnantilleka Baddewithana. Soon after she had started learning to talk, she began mentioning another mother and father in another place, where she said she also had two brothers and many sisters.
From the details the little girl gave, her parents were able to fit her descriptions to a particular family in a town some distance away. They found that this family had lost a son in 1954. When Gnantilleka was taken to visit this family, she said that she was their dead son and correctly identified seven members of “his” family. But until then the families had never met each other or even visited each other’s town.
Skeptics may dismiss the theory of reincarnation as fallacy, while non-believers in reincarnation may brush it off as baseless superstition.
Regardless of whether you believe it or not, since time immemorial, Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism have been advocating the theory of reincarnation in their beliefs. They believe in the theory of causation, in other words, the connection between cause and effect. They believe a person’s conduct in this present life matters and all the good deeds and misdemeanors committed by one will be accounted for. But, well, who is the bookkeeper?
Theory has it that the natural forces of the Cosmic Law, or you may call it Nature’s Law, will take precedence over this. A person’s deeds, good or bad will manifest their effects in one’s present life or the next, as good fortune or destiny versus bad destiny or retribution, and so on, according to the case itself.
The atheists would probably consider this theory as an example of “fatalistic syndrome.” The atheists believe life is what one makes out of it; one’s destiny is in one’s own hands.
On the contrary, Taoists believe a person reaps what he/she has sown. Perhaps, this explains one of the theories of Taoism about the eight types of people’s reincarnated destinies; such as, wealth vs. poverty, honor vs. ignobility (lowliness), longevity vs. short-life, and the like.
Perhaps this is also the reason why Buddhism has promoted the theory of the “six paths of samsara (reincarnation)” beginning some 2,500 years ago until today.
And perhaps this could be the reason for the often heard advice of our forefathers and parents to follow the maxim of, “Doing good deeds will be rewarded with virtues and doing bad or evil deeds will beget retribution”.
Read more: Reincarnation: Fact or Fallacy?
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By Cindy Chan
義 yì, the Chinese character for righteousness, contains broad inner meaning, encompassing moral values such as justice, honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness.
When mentioning 義, people might first think of one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” (三國演義, pronounced sān guó yǎn yì), literally “three kingdoms demonstrate righteousness.”
The novel dramatizes the events and lives of feudal lords and other historical figures of the turbulent era from the late Han Dynasty to the end of the Three Kingdoms Period (A.D. 169–280).
During this epoch, the profound inner meaning of 義, along with other qualities such as wisdom and resourcefulness, was thoroughly demonstrated through the contest of strength among the three dominant states—the Wei, Shu, and Wu.
Through the tales about Zhuge Liang, who exemplified trustworthiness and loyalty to the nation, and anecdotes of Guan Yu’s sense of justice, among numerous other legends, people came to truly understand the essence of 義, how its surface and inner meanings are related, how it manifests at deeper levels, and how it is exhibited in action.
These stories have exerted tremendous influence on the Chinese people for generations.
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By Cindy Chan
智 zhì is the Chinese character for wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge.
The character consists of three components. On the top left, 矢 shǐ is the radical/character for an arrow or dart, and also refers to an oath or vow. On the top right, 口 kǒu is the radical/character for mouth. Together, they make up the character 知 zhī, to know.
知 (zhī) provides the pronunciation for 智 (zhì). It also conveys the meaning of speaking in an accurate or precise manner, having the knowledge to say what is true.
On the bottom of 智 (zhì) is the radical/character 日 (rì), which means the sun, day, or daytime.
Thus, the combination of 知 and 日 expresses the ability to speak correctly every day, symbolizing a lifetime of wisdom, intelligence, learning, and good judgment.
In Confucian thought, 智 is one of the most fundamental of all virtues and one of the most important qualities of ideal human character, along with 仁 (rén), humaneness or benevolence; 義 (yì), righteousness; 禮 (lǐ), propriety; and 信 (xìn), faithfulness and sincerity.
智仁勇 (zhì rén yǒng), which refers to wisdom, benevolence, and courage, are the three essential attributes of a gentleman as defined by Confucius in an early code of ethics.
Other terms that contain 智 include 智力 (zhì lì), intellect or intellectual power; 智慧 (zhì huì), wisdom, intelligence, or sagacity; 智能 (zhì néng), wisdom and ability; 智謀 (zhì móu), resourcefulness, or intelligence combined with strategy; and 智齒 (zhì chǐ), wisdom tooth.
智勇雙全 (zhì yǒng shuāng quán) describes a person who is both wise and brave.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, meditation, psychology, Society, Spirituality, sustainable development
By Rosemary Byfield
How teachers cope with demands in the classroom may be made easier with the use of “mindfulness” techniques, according to new US research.
Learning to pay attention to the present in a focused and non-judgemental or mindful way on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course helped teachers in the study to feel less stressed and to avoid burnout.
Dr Richard Davidson, chair of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, is the study co-author. “The research indicated that simple forms of mindfulness training can help promote a certain type of emotional balance, leading to decreased stress,” he said in an interview on the Centre’s website.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
“[Teachers] perceive greater ability to remain present in the classroom for their children and less likely to respond to children with anger,” Davidson said.
Stress, burnout, and ill health are increasing burdens experienced by teachers in schools leading to absenteeism and prematurely leaving the profession.
“This is an area where mindfulness may be particularly important and interesting,” he said.
“We wanted to offer training to teachers in a format that would be engaging and address the concerns that were specifically relevant to their role as teachers,” said lead researcher Lisa Flook in a statement.
Researchers trained 18 teachers to use MBSR techniques designed to handle difficult physical sensations, feelings, and moods and develop empathy for pupils in challenging situations.
Randomly assigned teachers practised a guided meditation at home for at least 15 minutes per day and learned specific strategies for preventing and dealing with stressful factors in the classroom. These included “dropping in”, a process of bringing attention to breathing, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; and ways of bringing kindness into their experiences, particularly challenging ones.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation but was developed for secular use in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts in the United States.
“The most important outcome that we observed is the consistent pattern of results, across a range of self-report and objective measures used in this pilot study, that indicate benefits from practising mindfulness,” Flook said.
Study participant and teacher Elizabeth Miller found that mindfulness could be practised anywhere, and at any time.
“Breath awareness was just one part of the training, but it was something that I was able to consistently put into practice,” Miller said.
“Now I spend more time getting students to notice how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, before reacting to something. I think this act of self-monitoring was the biggest long-term benefit for both students and teachers.”
In Britain, teachers Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen developed the Mindfulness in Schools project, “.b” or “Stop, Breathe and Be!” programme. After experiencing the benefits of mindfulness themselves they wanted to teach it in the classroom. Their course is now taught in 12 countries.
Tags: Buddha, cultivation, quote of the day, Spirituality
…“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own
in the midst of abundance.”
Gautama Siddharta 563-483 B.C.
Tags: Body & Mind, books, health, meditation, psychology, Science, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.
Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.
Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.
But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.
Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.
If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.
“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”
Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.
Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.
For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.
Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.
However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.
Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.
Addicted to Emotions
Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.
Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.
Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.
“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.
Tags: Body & Mind, meditation, psychology, relationships, Spirituality, thoughts of the day
My comment: Read this! Many useful thoughts… One’s attitudes are of great importance.
Originally posted on Successify!:
This article is from Chiara Fucarino. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to address those with clinical depression or other mental illnesses.
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a person living in the slums of a third world country could be happy and content. I have spent plenty of time amongst both groups to have seen it first hand. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
Tags: Chinese culture, Science, Society, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” —Genesis 7:11-12
Approximately 9,000 to 5,000 years ago in the northern Turkish province of Sinop, an event of spectacular historic magnitude took place. So spectacular, in fact, that some believe it represents proof that the “Great Flood” recounted in the Bible may have been an actual (though somewhat exaggerated) representation of real events.
In September of 2004, an expedition in the Black Sea by a team of scientists from various institutions (including the National Geographic Society) determined that the sea in question was not always as we know it today.
They concluded that it had originated from an immense lake of black water that at one point in history began to widen in an unusually rapid way. The change was so great, in fact, that inhabitants of the surrounding area were immediately obliged to search for more secure land, hastily leaving behind housing, tools, and other traces of their former lives.
This led the underwater expedition headed by oceanographer Robert Ballad to declare that there once existed human settlements that now reside more than 300 feet underwater. This startling Black Sea discovery not only contributed to a thoroughly enriched historical understanding of the serious alterations in water level suffered in the ancient Middle East, but also raised questions about what caused the alteration in the first place.
Since then, scientists and reporters continue to probe the unresolved issue; it is a key to understanding the historical development of human civilization and the different climatic stages that Earth has experienced. Furthermore, it is an important theme intertwined not only with the Judeo-Christian tradition but with many legends from different cultures around the world—the Great Flood.
The Black Sea: Proof of the Flood?
Contemporary hypotheses suggesting that the rapid growth of the Black Sea was a consequence of an incredible rainfall of planetary proportions has never received great sale. Based on a large framework of scientific laws, predominantly geological, which have been established on the basis of empirical observation over the years, makes this a rather improbable scenario.
In the first place, skeptical geologists propose that for such a flood to have occurred, we would find a similar stratum throughout the world covered with pebbles, sludge, boulders, and other elements. It is curious that this layer cannot be found, even more so when the flood narrated by the Bible had taken place in a time as recent as 3000 B.C.
Neither can be found the strata of fossils, with different animal and vegetable species occupying specific soil layers. According to flood logic, the animal remains of all species before the big flood (including the extinct dinosaurs) should be found today in only one stratum, without any distinction. But paleontology completely contradicts these suppositions.
Yet these examples appear to be only the tip of the iceberg comprising the arguments that refute a global flood. Even so, much of such reasoning is refuted with equal grace by the “pro-flood” scientists. In fact, descriptions like “all the sources of the great abyss were broken” or “the waterfalls of the heavens were opened” recounted in Genesis are backed up by hypotheses that, although incredible, are impossible to rule out as being incompatible with reality.
One of the more dramatic hypotheses proposed that the planet could have been covered with water up to its highest points, contrary to the calculations indicating that all the water suspended in the atmosphere would only be enough to reach a modest 1.2 inches over the total surface of Earth.
These “flood supporters” calculate that if the geography of Earth went through a leveling out in its surface—the mountains being lowered, the sea troughs being elevated—then the entire Earth would be covered by thousands of feet of water.
According to the water-covers-the-earth theory, in the times of Noah the upper layers of the atmosphere contained a substantial amount of water that today makes up the oceans. This atmospheric water was what covered the whole planet, and which later returned to the ocean troughs by violent vertical tectonic movements. Researchers in support of this idea believe it makes suitable reference to the “waterfalls of the heavens” that could condense themselves thanks to dust generated by several simultaneous volcanic eruptions.
With respect to non-Biblical myths about a purifying flood, these can be found in the Hindu, Sumerian, Greek, Acadia, Chinese, Mapuche, Mayan, Aztec, and Pascuanese (Easter Island) cultures, among others. Several of these stories appear to possess surprisingly similar common factors. Among the most repeated themes are those of celestial announcements ignored by the people, the great flood itself, the construction of an ark to preserve life from the flood, and the later restoration of life on the planet.
A clear example of this similarity is provided by pre-Biblical Mesopotamian history of the flood in which the god “Ea” warned Uta-na-pistim, king of Shuruppak, about the punishment that awaits humanity for its serious moral degeneration. Uta-na-pistim received instructions from the god to construct a craft in the form of a cube with eight floors, and said that it should include in it a pair of each species of animal, plant seeds, as well as his own family. Thus, Uta-na-pistim survived the several-day-long deluge, released a bird to verify the proximity of dry land, and made an animal sacrifice to the gods.
In Search of the Lost Ark
One separate point that adds weight to the Bible controversy is the body of photographic and physical evidence of a large object encrusted in Mount Ararat, where, according to the Christian text narrations, finally rested the ark of Noah.
In the beginning of 2006, University of Richmond professor Porcher Taylor declared that according to an extensive study made over years of satellite photography there is a foreign object encrusted in the area northeast of the mountain, the length of which coincides perfectly with that of the ark recounted in the Bible.
Such satellite images from above Ararat have inspired the curiosity of a great number of scientists since this declaration was made in 1974. Several expeditions of investigators also managed to rescue remains of petrified wood, as well as 13 strong anchors of rock in the area surrounding the supposed location of the possible archeological treasure. Ultrasonic tests have also been made, revealing a very odd structure embedded in the rock.
In spite of the multiplicity of texts from diverse cultures which tell the story of a great ancient flood, the magnitude and duration of such an event seems to be a point of argument, even among those who believe that such an event actually occurred. Thus, while a small number of researchers suggests that this flood covered the entire Earth in vast amounts of water, most geologists agree that such a scenario is an impossibility.
While not everyone believes ancient accounts that describe the re-creation of humanity from the salvation of a handful of people, it would seem that a climatic catastrophe actually did take place across the entire planet several millennia ago. We can also safely assume that an indefinite number of human beings in elevated locations had the capacity to continue civilization, and to transmit the story of the occurrence to later generations.
Up until the time when evidence is revealed to definitively tip the scales toward one of these particular theories, the story of a time when a great flood purged the sins of man will be taken as a myth for some and a statement of historical fact for others. Either way, this great ancient flood remains forever a part of the story of humankind.
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