Tags: Body & Mind, books, Culture, health, psychology
Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams? Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water? Are you “too shy” or “too sensitive” according to others? Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you? If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
For those people who have a keen imagination, are labelled too shy or too sensitive, who perform poorly when being observed even though they are usually competent, have vivid dreams and for whom time alone each day is essential – this is the book to help them understand themselves and how best to cope in various situations. Highly sensitive people are often very bright and creative but many suffer from low self esteem. They are not neurotics as they have been labelled for so long. However, high sensitivity can lead them to cease to engage with the outside world.
In The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, you will discover:
* Self-assessment tests to help you identify your particular sensitivities
* Ways to reframe your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process
* Insight into how high sensitivity affects both work and personal relationships
* Tips on how to deal with overarousal
* Informations on medications and when to seek help
* Techniques to enrich the soul and spirit
Tags: books, Culture, Society
Interesting review about people living in a communist country…
I just finished reading Red Love: The Story of an East German Family by Maxim Leo. What a compelling, intense and poignant journey this has been.
The moment I started reading Red Love, I was drawn into the inner dynamics, turbulent emotions and revealing stories of Leo’s family. The latter included his grandfathers’ experiences during the Second World War and the effects which lingered throughout the three generations.
Red Love examines the relationships between Leo’s family members as well as each individual’s connection to the German Democratic Republic (GDR). This is more than just a family memoir; it is also a journey through the history of the short-lived sovereign state, seen through the eyes of someone who was born into it, grew up in its shadow and saw it vanish overnight.
Leo brings the reader back in time by piecing together the narrative of his family through intimate interviews, old photographs and letters, diaries as well as surveillance files…
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Junheng Li writes about her journey from China to America, shattering conventional wisdom along the way
For a China skeptic, reading this book is like listening to a sermon. For a China bull, it will start ringing the alarm bells. For anyone interested in how the world’s second-largest economy works, this book provides a great overview, neatly packaged within the life story of a remarkable and interesting woman.
“My father’s quintessential tiger parenting ultimately resulted in an American success story built with Chinese strengths,” Junheng Li tells us about her upbringing in the suburbs of Shanghai in the 1980s, her American college experience in Vermont in the 1990s, and her successful Wall Street career in the 2000s.
Having lived in both cultures and having experienced both education systems, Li offers her insights on the differences between China and America. She builds a compelling case for why the mainstream perception that “China will rule the world” won’t come to fruition in the near future, and why America, despite its problems, is better equipped for a long-term contest.
“Until the software—the quality of its citizenry and society—matches the government-led hardware of infrastructure buildup, China is far from constituting a credible threat to America,” she writes.
Drawing on her experience as a Chinese citizen and an American businesswoman—Li now runs a boutique investment research firm specializing in Chinese companies—she sheds light on deep issues such as declining moral values in a communist state, and more practical matters like the risks hidden in the Chinese banking system.
Although the subtitle, “Winning Business Strategies from Shanghai to New York and Back,” over-promises a little, specific investment and real-life examples, as well as many Wall Street anecdotes, illustrate her main points.
As a result, the narrative never gets too dull or technical, so the book remains accessible to the average reader. In addition, most investors, whether professional or not, can learn a few things from Li’s contrarian methods.
Drilled for Success
For Li, education is the determining factor in her personal life, and in how China and America compete. In what she refers to as “tiger parenting,” Li’s father drilled her to be successful from a very young age.
She had to complete arithmetic exercises while kneeling on a rugged washboard with sharp edges. Her dad threw her in a swimming pool as a toddler with a small flotation device so she would learn how to swim.
“It was the only way his daughter would gain an edge in China’s highly competitive education system,” Li writes, adding she knew he was doing it for her, so she could be successful later in life.
She writes that the basic rigor of learning mathematics and grammar as a child is an asset she would use for the rest of her life. However, the Chinese system is based mostly on memorization, whether it is mathematics or Communist Party propaganda. Independent thinking and innovation are not taught.
“The [regime], represented by the Ministry of Education, still holds onto Marxist and Maoist teachings because it is afraid to part with the bygone era—parting with it would mean reform, and the party inherently fears reform,” Li writes.
This is a major flaw, which constrains the full potential of the country’s citizenry, according to Li. Rampant cheating in high schools and universities explains why Chinese companies have been successful mostly by working hard and copying others, fielding few innovations of their own.
Thanks to her father, who never believed communist propaganda and was an avid Voice of America listener, Li got inspired by the American classic movie “Gone With the Wind,” and set her sights to move to the United States.
After another round of hard work and memorization, Li aced her Chinese university and the TOEFL English exams, and got a scholarship for Middlebury College in Vermont.
In America, it wasn’t the academics of her economics course material, but rather the way education was approached in the United States that baffled Li.
“The hardest changes lay in the social and ethical rules that governed the campus.” She writes about the relaxed supervision, yet strict code of ethics at her college. Students were expected to complete their work independently and honestly, something she had never heard of in China.
According to Li, this approach of accountability, as well as risk taking and independent thinking in class and group work is a cornerstone of American innovation—a big advantage it has over China.
“China’s education system has failed to produce either an honorable or an innovative society,” is Li’s shattering verdict.
An Honor Code
Ultimately, the differences in the two countries’ education systems reflect a different moral code, which also translates into business practices.
“It [seems] counterintuitive. China had delivered impressive economic growth since I was a child. One would think that as a country gets richer, its people would no longer need to fight for their livelihoods. Shouldn’t they therefore hold themselves to higher moral standards, like the honor code we had at Middlebury?” Li asks.
Apparently not. Li then astutely analyzes this moral dilemma: Having robbed the Chinese nation of its spiritual beliefs by persecuting religious believers and indoctrinating the masses with atheist communist ideology, the Chinese Communist Party replaced a noble code of ethics with money worship and belief in the Party itself, which cares for nothing but power.
According to Li, solely caring about profit and outdoing others are the direct reasons for China’s creativity-stifling education system, slew of corporate scandals, widespread official corruption, and destruction of the environment, all of which Li documents with numerous examples.
“Social values remain weak because the system does not encourage citizens to believe in a power higher than the state—and given the personal tragedies and inequalities that many Chinese have witnessed in the last 30 years, the state is hard to believe in,” she writes.
Poised for a Crash
All of these factors have played a role in creating a lopsided behemoth economy that is ripe for a huge adjustment.
“Many people living in China, from the top leadership in Beijing to corporate executives to average citizens, believe the country is nearing an inflection point that will force it to reflect and reform.”
For Li, the command nature of the economy, the lack of morality, and the problems in the education system have left the Chinese economy with a one-size-fits-all solution of exploiting cheap labor and massive debt expansion, mostly for infrastructure investment and real estate.
She argues that while the export model of manufacturing cheap goods was successful in lifting 500 million people out of poverty during the past 30 years, it has now hit its limits as wage growth has surpassed the level of productivity growth.
Advancements in productivity are limited by an education system that fails to promote innovation, and therefore prohibits the progression toward more value-added products and services.
According to Li, the second wooden leg of the Chinese growth miracle is its massive debt expansion and investment in unproductive projects. Because the Chinese regime is obsessed with growth, when growth threatened to slow as part of a normal economic adjustment, it always forced banks to expand lending.
This prevented the occurrence of smaller cleansing cycles and created one massive debt super cycle, which has to come to an end sooner or later. More money funneled into unproductive investments by state decree will not result in more value creation. Instead, it looks like the whole economic system is poised for a crash—sooner, rather than later.
“The country’s trajectory seems similar to that of an athlete on steroids. As with most athletes on steroids whose temporary outperformance is inevitably followed by a long period of underperformance, the truth will eventually find its way out,” she writes.
The astute analysis found in “Tiger Woman on Wall Street” goes far deeper than the hyped-up numbers of Chinese GDP growth, currency reserves, or self-made millionaires. Li’s accurate and vivid description of China’s cultural fabric and its economy makes this a must read for anyone interested in the country’s economy and its people.
“Tiger Woman on Wall Street” is available from the McGraw-Hill Companies in print and in Amazon Kindle format.
More in China Business & Economy
Tags: books, CCP, censorship, China, Culture, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, Society
By Zhou Xing
Jason Q. Ng, a Google Policy Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, introduced his new book “Blocked on Weibo” on Aug. 29. The book reveals a large number of keywords censored by Chinese authorities on the Chinese microblog service Weibo.
Since 2011, Ng has spent nearly two years studying blocked keywords. He told the Epoch Times that among the 1,500 blacklisted words, 500 are unique, 150 of which are listed in his book. He believes he can help readers understand how Chinese netizens use the Internet by using various approaches to collect data from Weibo.
Ng said it’s sometimes difficult to predict which words will be blocked or why they are blocked, but those critical of the authorities are usually chosen.
For example, “tank” is associated with the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989, and so it is not surprising it should be blocked. But once the phrase “rich woman” was blocked. “Rich woman” was associated with Guo Meimei, a young woman who flaunted wealth and claimed she was an officer with the Chinese Red Cross. This combination of words rapidly circulated on the Internet, then it was blocked.
‘Canadian French’ Becomes a Forbidden Phrase
Ng’s research shows that Chinese authorities included proper names, place names, and some unlikely phrases in its censorship. The name Jiang Yanyong was blocked because he disclosed the fact that the Communist Party was concealing the SARS epidemic in 2003. Kashi, a place in Xinjiang where riots and conflicts often occur, is also blocked.
An unlikely phrase, “Canadian French,” is taboo on China’s Weibo because the Chinese pronunciation of “Canadian French” is “Jia Na Da Fa Yu” which contains two characters “Da Fa,” a term used in “Falun Dafa,” a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline.
Since 1999, the Chinese authorities have brutally persecuted practitioners of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong). The Communist Party has used the entire mainland Chinese media network to paint an image of Falun Dafa as mad and evil, while censoring Falun Dafa books and any materials that give an accurate description of Falun Dafa. Because the phrase “Canadian French” contains the two characters “Da Fa,” it has been deemed worthy of censorship.
Coincidentally, Ng’s study also found that “Renmin University of China Law School,” a Communist Party institution, also contains the characters “Da Fa,” so it was censored for the same reason that Canadian French was censored.
Ng notes that Western countries meet their citizens’ needs with fewer restrictions on the free flow of information, but China maintains strict control.
“I believe that Chinese citizens want more freedom of speech, but they still have no chance to participate in the discussion on network control.” Ng said.
Ng was very interested in how much the Communist Party invested in network control. He said that there must be at least 100,000 people censoring words on Weibo, because some blocking occurs within seconds after the nearly 600 million Weibo users have circulated the word(s).
Even the title of Ng’s book was deleted within a few minutes of being posted by a Weibo user. Ng said that even if the posted text were converted into a picture, it would still be censored.
Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Read the original Chinese article.
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, books, CCP, censorship, China, Culture, human rights, Society
A former senior editor for the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda mouthpiece collected the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize Wednesday night.
The book award is given by the libertarian-leaning think tank to acknowledge recent works that “best reflect Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty.” It comes with a $50,000 cash prize.
Chinese journalist and historian Yang Jisheng’s book, “Tombstone,” was published in English last year; it is a comprehensive account of the Great Chinese Famine from 1958 to 1962, during which his father starved to death among over 36 million other peasants.
At the time, Chairman Mao attributed the tragedy to “the three years of natural calamities,” but Yang, through his own experiences and 15 years of research while working for Xinhua, learned the truth: to exponentially increase grain and steel production during the so-called Great Leap Forward, Mao expended the lives of countless rural workers.
As grain was sent to the cities and abroad, Chinese in the countryside were prevented from leaving to find food. Desperate, they tried to subsist on things like clay, elm bark, and bird droppings; some parents even ended up eating their own children.
“Mao’s powers expanded from the people’s minds to their stomachs,” Yang recently told the Wall Street Journal. “Whatever the Chinese people’s brains were thinking and what their stomachs were receiving were all under the control of Mao. . . . His powers extended to every inch of the field, and every factory, every workroom of a factory, every family in China.”
In his 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom,” Austrian economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek had called this approach the “fatal conceit” of socialism, contrasting it with a free market, which allows producers to match prices to consumers’ preferences without coercion or waste of human and natural resources.
Hayek’s book was translated into Chinese in 1962, but could only be read by Party leaders wanting to study a critique of socialism. Years later, a censored version became available to the Chinese public, which greatly influenced Yang’s thinking on events that had unfolded since the Mao era.
Manhattan Institute founder Sir Anthony Fisher spoke with Hayek on how to reverse the erosion of freedom, who advised beginning “on the battlefield of ideas.”
In “Tombstone,” Yang said that the totalitarian regime was the root cause of the famine. In a more open system, people would have realized immediately, and leaders would have modified mistaken policies, he said.
During the event in New York, Yang explained the significance of the name he chose for the book. “There are four levels of meaning to the book title–first it’s the tombstone of my father, who died of starvation during that time; second it’s the tombstone of the 36 million Chinese, who died during those three years of starvation; third I hoped it would be a tombstone for the system that allowed so many people to die of starvation; and fourth, due to the danger I was in while writing, I thought it might be my own tombstone.”
Although he supports democracy and freedom of information, Yang questions how soon these can come to China while the Communist Party still holds power.
“If a people cannot face their history, these people won’t have a future,” he told the Journal. “That was one of the purposes for me to write this book. I wrote a lot of hard facts, tragedies. I wanted people to learn a lesson, so we can be far away from the darkness, far away from tragedies, and won’t repeat them.”
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Tags: Body & Mind, books, Culture, Science
Part two in a series. Read part one here.
Premonition, Precognition, and Presentiment
By Louis Makiello
Epoch Times Staff
Sheldrake has collected a database of 842 cases of human premonitions, precognitions or presentiments, including people who see the future in dreams. He has also looked at the same phenomenon in animals.
He cites the case of British biologist Rachel Grant, who was carrying out a study on the mating of toads in Italy, only to observe a mass exodus of toads ahead of the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck Italy in April 2009. Grant told the press that her findings “suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system.”
But Sheldrake writes: “If it turns out that they are indeed reacting to subtle physical changes, then seismologists should be able to use instruments to make better predictions themselves. If it turns out that presentiment plays a part, we will learn something important about the nature of time and causation. By ignoring animal premonitions, or by explaining them away, we will learn nothing.”
Dean Radin, a U.S. academic, devised an experiment in the 1990s to test for presentiment. He monitored human subjects’ emotional arousal using electrodes attached to the fingers (as in lie detector tests). The activity of sweat glands, which varies following people’s emotional states, results in changes in skin resistance.
The subjects were shown various photos. Most photos showed calm things like landscapes but some were shocking, such as corpses cut open. A computer selected the them at random. When the calm pictures were displayed, the subjects remained calm; when the shocking ones were displayed, the increase in electrodermal activity could be measured via the electrodes.
Researchers were surprised to find that the increase in electrodermal activity occurred up to four seconds before the photo was shown to the subject, despite being selected only milliseconds earlier by a computer. Sheldrake writes: “People seem to be influenced by themselves in the future, rather than by objective events.”
He relates this to his own theory of morphogenetic fields. “This is in agreement with the way that attractors pull organisms towards their inherited or learned goals, with flows of influence from virtual futures through the present towards the past.”
Universal Constants May Not Be Constant
In addition to biology and philosophy of science, Sheldrake comes up with amusing and intriguing ideas in other fields of science.
Speaking of the speed of light, he writes, “By 1927, the measured values had converged to 299,796 kilometers per second. At the time, the leading authority on the subject concluded, ‘The present value of c [the speed of light] is entirely satisfactory and can be considered more or less permanently established.’
“However, all around the world from about 1928 to 1945, the speed of light dropped by about 20 kilometers per second. (…) In the late 1940s the speed of light went up again by about 20 kilometers per second and a new consensus developed around the higher value.”
Sheldrake says that in the future, scientific periodicals may carry regular news reports on the latest value of c, much like weather reports or stock-market indices.
Questioning the Conservation of Energy
The book discusses a range of experiments aimed at testing the conservation of energy in living organisms. This involves keeping humans or animals in airtight chambers and measuring energy input through food, heat and work produced, oxygen consumed, and carbon dioxide produced.
In some experiments, more than a quarter of energy is unaccounted for. In other experiments, Sheldrake holds that scientists averaged data from different experiments, and discarded some data to arrive at a result that followed the conservation of energy law.
“Although most people do not realize it, there is a shocking possibility that living organisms draw upon forms of energy over and above those recognized by standard physics and chemistry,” he writes.
Sheldrake goes on to tackle the phenomenon of “inedia,” wherein people do not eat for months or years without any adverse effects. He discusses the many holy people in India and the West, from past to present, who are said to survive without food, and in some cases water too.
Sometimes, the fasting seems to happen due to illness, rather than spiritual devotion. Sheldrake cites the 2010 study of Indian yogi Prahlad Jani [/n2/science/study-on-yogi-prahlad-janis-fasting-miracles-concludes-35126.html] who was monitored for two weeks by the Indian Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Science.
Sheldrake calls for further study of the phenomenon: “Are there new forms of energy that are not at present recognized by science? Or can the energy in the zero-point field, which is recognized by science, be tapped by living organisms?”
Sheldrake relates the failure to experimentally verify the conservation of energy in living creatures to physics’ theory of dark matter.
When physicists observed the motion of galaxies and clusters of galaxies, they were surprised that the galaxies were not following the laws of the motion of matter. There seemed to be much greater gravitational attraction than should be possible. They thus concluded that a large amount of invisible matter must be present. They called it “dark matter” and it remains hypothetical and unobservable.
Cosmologists now believe that only a small fraction of the universe is made up of observable matter and energy such as atoms, stars, galaxies, gas, planets, and electromagnetic radiation. Most of the universe is made up of dark matter, they say.
Most theories of dark matter state that the density of dark matter is constant. Therefore, since the universe is expanding, dark matter is constantly coming into being. This refutes both the second law of thermodynamics, and the conservation of matter—two cornerstones of physics.
Sheldrake writes: “The universe is now like a perpetual-motion machine, expanding because of dark energy, and creating more dark energy by expanding.” He goes on to call out scientists on their prejudices against perpetual-motion machines: “Skeptics claim that all these devices are impossible and/or fraudulent, and some promoters of ‘free energy’ devices may indeed be fraudulent; but can we be sure that they all are?”
He says that misguided scientific advisers may be to blame for discouraging investment in research into “over unity” devices (which supposedly produce more than one unit of energy for every unit of energy put in). “But perhaps some of these devices really do work, and really can tap into new sources of energy.” He goes on to suggest a prize to be put up for the creation of such a device.
Alternative Medicine Should Become Mainstream
In addition to modern materialistic medicine, rival medical systems, such as homeopathy, chiropractic, and traditional Chinese medicine, are also widely used. However, government research, most national health services, and private medical insurance schemes ignore such rival systems, and stick to Western medicine.
Sheldrake begins by acknowledging the extraordinary achievements of modern Western medical science. The huge leaps forward in public health through immunization and improved hygiene were not thanks to any particular dogma, he says. Neither materialism nor the mechanistic theory of life should claim credit. Antibiotics also were discovered by chance. Most modern drugs are either chemical compounds isolated from herbal remedies or discovered by trial and error.
After a brief history of Western medicine, Sheldrake criticizes corrupt practices within the pharmaceutical industry. “Some companies go to great lengths to make their drugs look safer and more effective than they really are, creating an illusion of scientific respectability for their claims. […] They offer large fees to scientists to put their names to articles that have been ghostwritten by authors paid by the drug company.”
Sheldrake goes on to tackle the placebo response. He relates this to the power of hypnosis on the body. He cites hypnotists’ abilities to induce blisters on the skin by convincing people they are being burned. He also cites the treatment of warts by “magical” methods as often being more effective than conventional ones.
When modern medicine tests a treatment’s effectiveness, it seeks to ignore the placebo response. Sheldrake asks the question: do some treatment methods give a better placebo response than others?
He then talks about the effect of spiritual practices on health. “The effects of prayer or meditation on health and survival have been investigated through prospective studies in which people who prayed or meditated and otherwise similar people who did not pray or meditate were identified at the start of the study and watched over a period of years to see if their health or mortality turned out differently. It did. On average, those who prayed or meditated remained healthier and survived longer than those who did not.”
He cites a U.S. study in which 1,793 over 65s were tracked for six years. After correcting for factors such as lifestyle, those who prayed had a 55 percent better survival rate. “If a new drug or surgical procedure had such dramatic effects on health and survival as spiritual practices, it would be hailed as a medical breakthrough,” he writes.
Sheldrake then urges the development of a new way to test treatment methods other than the randomized double-blind placebo controlled study. Mainstream and alternative treatments should all be compared so as to determine which one works best, which has the greatest variability of results between practitioners, and which is the most cost-effective.
On the sensitive question of end-of-life care, Sheldrake says patients who receive palliative care rather than aggressive treatments to prolong life lead better quality lives. Palliative care costs less, and in one study, lung cancer patients who received palliative care actually survived longer than those receiving aggressive anti-cancer therapy.
The Illusion of Objectivity
Throughout his book, Sheldrake challenges different assumptions and beliefs held by the scientific community. Scientists themselves are often unaware of their own prejudices, he says. Those who idealize science believe that scientists are “the epitome of objectivity, rising above the sectarian divisions and illusions that afflict the rest of humanity.”
He cites comedian Ricky Gervais as a prime example of a layperson having blind faith in the infallibility of science.
Scientists themselves perpetuate the ideal of the scientist as an objective, godlike, disembodied mind “freed from the normal limitations of bodies, emotions, and social obligations.” Stephen Hawkins has captured public imagination precisely because he is “as close to the disembodied mind as a human can be.”
Quantum theory has found that the very act of observing an experiment affects the outcome, but scientists still mostly write reports in the passive voice, as do schoolchildren in science class.
Sheldrake urges drastic reforms for scientific education, funding for science, and health care. At stake, he says, is the advancement of science, public health, mental well-being, and even the safety of our species, which is endangered by modern science’s effect on ecology.
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Tags: books, CCP, China, human rights, Kilgour and Matas, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents
JERUSALEM—On a recent trip to Jerusalem, lawyer and human rights activist David Matas was in town for merely 48 hours, but still made time for an interview after a long day of meetings. His deep well of energy seems to come in part from his enthusiastic commitment to fighting for human rights.
In 2009 Matas, a Canadian, co-authored Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China with David Kilgour, a former Canadian secretary of state. The book was an updated and extended version of a 2006 report under the same title that horrified the world with its revelations of systematic murder for huge profits from organ transplant sales by China’s medical community. Among other revelations, it established the veracity of allegations that disappeared Falun Gong practitioners were being murdered for the price of their organs.
Each year in China 1,000 death row prisoners are killed for their organs … 500 come from Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Eastern Lightning House Christians, and 8,000 come from Falun Gong practitioners.
Illegal organ transplants from donors of unknown origin purchased for huge sums by foreign patients remains a major human rights crisis in China. Without a national system for voluntary organ donation, China mysteriously has a tremendous number of readily available organs for transplant available on demand. According to research done by the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC), of the tens of thousands of organ transplants performed in China annually, records of voluntary donations only number in the hundreds.
That means Matas’s work is far from done.
Having spent the last few years building interest in the subject through “Bloody Harvest” and connecting with professionals in the medical transplant community, Matas published this year a second book on the topic, State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China. He co-edited the book with Dr. Torsten Trey, the founding member and executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH). The book is a collection of 12 essays by authors from four continents.
Matas is also the author of other books on topics that include anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, as well as Nazi war criminals in Canada. But his two most recent books on illegal organ harvesting in China target a very specific—and urgent—problem.
“What I found was a real community of concern among the transplant profession,” Matas said of bringing together authors for the essays in his new book. He adds that part of that concern stems from the impact that China’s unethical transplant practices have on the worldwide transplant community’s reputation—sometimes impacting funding efforts.
Matas, who travels frequently for both his work as a lawyer and a human rights activist, says he constantly multi-tasks on different issues he is involved with. He sees publishing the new book on organ harvesting as “another way to get the message across.”
His sense of urgency around the issue is well-founded. According to estimates from research he and others have done, each year in China 1,000 death row prisoners are killed for their organs, 500 transplants come from living donor relatives, 500 come from Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Eastern Lightning House Christians, and 8,000 come from Falun Gong practitioners.
To this end, the book’s essays examine China’s systematic abuse of medicine for illegal organ transplants. It includes pieces by Arthur L. Caplan, head of the Division of Bioethics at the New York University Langone Medical Center; Jacob Lavee, director of the Heart Transplantation Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Israel; Gabriel Danovitch, Medical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at UCLA’s School of Medicine; and more than a dozen others.
One key point Matas wants to make with the new book is that the desire to stop organ harvesting is much bigger than he and his past co-author. “Both David Kilgour and I are not young, (and) are both doing other things,” said Matas. “It [fighting against organ harvesting] cannot rest with us. The message of this book is that the constituency is bigger than us.”
One aim Matas has in continuing to raise the issue is that individual countries will enact legislation to make it either required for doctors to report a patient who got a transplant overseas or for governments to prosecute individuals who got such an operation illegally. So far, attempts at such legislation have been limited, but Israel is one of the few countries where restrictions do exist.
What I found was a real community of concern among the transplant profession.
—David Matas, editor ‘State Organs’
The Israeli Organ Transplant Law forbids transplant tourism (the practice of patients traveling overseas to get organs from foreign donors) from Israel. The law also promotes national self-sufficiency in organ donation. The enactment of the law was a direct result of “Bloody Harvest.”
Today, Matas sees the best place for pressure to come from is inside the transplant profession itself. That includes working on getting the World Medical Association to evict the Chinese Medical Association (CMA). But progress so far is slow, since the CMA consists of every type of medical professional in China, not just those involved in transplants.
“If the transplant professionals in China stopped doing [illegal organ harvesting], that would end it,” he said. “The [transplant] profession [inside and outside of China], through peer pressure, can stop it.”
In the meantime, Matas continues to focus on promoting his new book, which is close to selling out its first print run. He is also encouraging those who read it and others who hear about the issue of organ harvesting in China to “do what they can do.”
“Write a letter, talk to a neighbor, go to a rally,” he said of efforts that individuals can make. “What you’re dealing with is human rights—so you don’t know who it’s going to hit and when.”
As for putting others in the spotlight with his new publication, Matas believes by taking on more on more of a supporting role, it will actually benefit the issue.
“People will say, ‘I saw you on TV, but I can’t remember what you said,’” notes Matas of his work since his 2009 book and the many subsequent congressional hearings, public rallies, and events he took part in to speak on the issue. “Other people need to be involved.”
With additional reporting by Matthew Robertson
Tags: books, Nature, Science
Israeli plant geneticist Daniel Chamovitz believes that plants are more similar to humans than previously realized and even have similar senses.
Chamovitz is Director of Tel Aviv University’s Manna Center for Plant Biosciences, and has written a new book called What a Plant Knows detailing his findings, which may lead us to rethink what we know about biology with implications for research into food security and human diseases.
While investigating how plants respond to light, Chamovitz found a group of genes that allow plants to tell whether they are in the light or the dark. Surprisingly, these genes were later identified in humans and animals.
“The same group of proteins that plants use to decide if they are in the light or dark is also used by animals and humans,” said Chamovitz in a media release. “For example, these proteins control two seemingly separate processes.”
“First, they control the circadian rhythm, the biological clock that helps our bodies keep a 24-hour schedule,” he explained. “Second, they control the cell cycle—which means we can learn more about mutations in these genes that lead to cancer.”
According to Chamovitz, plants “see” light signals, including color, direction, and intensity, and use this information to decide on a behavioral response, such as opening their leaves to absorb nutrients.
Plants also exhibit a sense of smell. For instance, a ripening fruit releases a pheromone which nearby unripe fruit can detect, triggering them to ripen too.
Plants and humans have other proteins and genes in common, such as the genes that cause breast cancer. They are therefore a potential biological model, and could be used instead of or alongside animal models for research into some human diseases.
Tags: books, CCP, China, Falun Gong, human rights, Kilgour and Matas, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Society
Experts see report part of attempt to bury bigger state-sponsored crimes
The Chinese Communist Party CCP has indirectly admitted that a large-scale black market and network for live organ harvesting exists in China, according to a report in the state-run media Beijing Times on Aug. 4.
The report says that Chinese police have arrested 28 gangs involved with removing organs from living victims and selling them to patients via hospitals. This is the first time Beijing has officially acknowledged the existence of live organ harvesting in China since it was publicized in 2006. At that time The Epoch Times reported that prison camp and hospitals in Liaoning Province were trafficking in organs from detained practitioners of Falun Gong.
China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said there were 127 individuals and 18 doctors involved, representing 18 organizations, in the recent network. The groups incarcerated their victims, then contacted hospitals to match tissues with patients awaiting transplants before doctors removed organs from the victims, according to the report.
The report said the network spread across 18 provinces and cities, including Beijing, Hebei, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, and Shaanxi. A typical example was given of a young man’s kidney being sold for 35,000 yuan (US$5,500) for which a patient would eventually pay as much as 200,000 yuan (US$31,000).
Since the persecution of this spiritual discipline began in 1999, organ transplants in China increased five-fold between 2000 and 2006.
In 2006, witnesses said communist authorities were mediating between hospitals and prisons that the Party had permitted to harvest organs from Falun Gong practitioners. Since the persecution of this spiritual discipline began in 1999, organ transplants in China increased five-fold between 2000 and 2006.
Live organ harvesting was mentioned for the first time in the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Report for China. Earlier this year, a question about involvement in organ harvesting was added to the non-immigrant U.S. visa application, Form DS-160.
Experts on CCP politics said that increasing exposure of live organ harvesting in China has led the regime to seek a scapegoat for its crimes.
“Criminal gangs alone cannot handle the whole process,” said commentator Heng He, an analyst with New York-based Chinese-language broadcaster New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television. “With organ transplants, there must be an organization willing to receive the organs from outside sources. They are the regular hospitals; hospitals in China are often affiliated with governmental agencies, the military, or police agencies. The [organ] transportation itself needs time, and organs have to be provided fresh. So, it cannot be resolved with common means of transport.”
Since February, when Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun fled to the U.S. Consulate and revealed his involvement in organizing organ harvesting, the regime has started to crack down on organ sales.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants to release itself from the crime,” Heng He said. “It doesn’t want to take responsibility. Why was the Ministry of Public Security allowed to crack the case now? It is likely they themselves are part of the criminal system, and now they have exposed some of the things they are accountable for.”
In March, the regime pledged to end organ harvesting from prisoners within five years.
“Before, the Communist Party didn’t admit [the organs were from] executed prisoners. Then it thought using executed prisoners might be the least evil of the sins it had committed, so it started to admit that organs were from executed prisoners,” NTD news analyst Dr. Jason Ma told the Sound of Hope Radio Network.
He continued: “However, the statistics on organs transplanted were not right. So who are the rest of the organ sources? The regime hopes that people will focus on individual cases, such as a homeless person having their organs harvested.”
Read the original Chinese article.
- US Congressmen and NGOs Condemn Organ Harvesting in China
- With Ethics Absent, Organs Pillaged in China-Book Review: ‘State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China’
Chinese Doctor Admits to Falun Gong Organ Harvest
By Matthew Robertson & Li Wenhui
Epoch Times Staff
A high-ranking retired Chinese military doctor has been caught in a phone call placed by a human rights group admitting that he used the organs of political prisoners in a joint research project with Wang Lijun, the former right-hand man to disgraced Party official Bo Xilai.
Chen answered: “That had been approved by the court.”
Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999.
The human rights researcher asked again if it had “gone through the court.” Chen affirmed.
The caller, a researcher with the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a human rights research and advocacy group, had presented himself as a member of a “cross-department special investigative team” for the Wang Lijun matter.
Wang Lijun is widely known to be under investigation by the CCP. On Feb. 6 he fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu and passed to U.S. consular officials documents that are believed to have detailed crimes by Bo Xilai and Bo’s wife Gu Kailai, including information about organ harvesting. After surrendering to central Party authorities, Wang has been under investigation, was purged from the Party, and is due to be tried for treason.
When the WOIPFG investigator posed a follow-up question, asking about more details about where the Falun Gong practitioners were housed in connection with the organ harvesting, Chen Rongshan balked: “Let me say, I mean, I’m saying, you don’t talk, ask me about this now, OK?”
He added: “If you have to ask, go through the political division of the hospital, OK?”
“We in the military have a code of discipline, there are things that if we are to talk about them, you have to go through our political division, and tell the people in our political division to call me.”
The investigator and Chen tussled for another minute before the latter hung up. But the researcher had already gained the admission.
Human Rights Research Calls
This was not the first such admission. Dozens of calls are available online where the WOIPFG investigator, whose voice in the digital recordings was tweaked to sound as though he had just inhaled helium to protect his identity. In the recordings he elicits admissions from Party officials of participating in these crimes.
Chen Rongshan was most recently targeted because he had worked with Wang Lijun on a “research project” related to organ transplantation. Nearby in Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province, Wang, as head of the Public Security Bureau (PSB), had run the “On-site Psychological Research Center,” a laboratory connected to the PSB. There, according to his remarks in a 2006 award speech, he carried out executions, organ harvesting, organ transplants, and related experimentation.
The award, a “special contribution award,” was given by the Guanghua Science and Technology Foundation in September 2006. Guanghua, according to its website, is a charity that promotes science under the direct leadership of the Communist Youth League, one of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mass organizations used for recruitment and dissemination of Party dogma to young people.
Wang said in his acceptance speech, which is still available online, that he had participated in “thousands” of on-site organ transplantations.
Wang Lijun was already close to Bo Xilai when he was PSB chief in Jinzhou. Later when Bo was transferred to Chongqing, Wang followed him and was installed as his chief of police. Analysts are confident that Bo was at least intimately aware of Wang’s activities.
Experts interviewed at the time of the discovery of this award understood “on-site” to indicate that the execution and organ removal happens near or at the same site as the transplantation to a new host.
The experts, including Ethan Gutmann, a journalist whose research focuses on the Chinese regime’s abusive organ transplantation practices, and David Matas, a lawyer who co-authored the seminal text on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, were also confident that, judging by Wang’s remarks, the prisoners were alive when their organs were removed, and would have died in the process of extraction.
Gutmann and Matas also thought it was probable that many of those thousands of organs were harvested from practitioners of Falun Gong.
Wang had worked together with the 205 Hospital, Chen’s department, on a “Key Research Project of Trauma-Free Anatomy in the Asia-Pacific Region,” according to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.
In the phone call Chen was asked to confirm that collaboration, and he did, before being asked to admit to using Falun Gong organs.
Dr. Torsten Trey, the co-editor of a recently published book on the abuse of organ transplantation in China, State Organs, said that he thought the telephone call and admission were credible, and fit into a broader pattern.
“When Dr. Chen refers to the court that has approved the cases of Falun Gong practitioners as organ source, he actually indicates that the organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners is state sanctioned, as state institutions and courts, are involved in the approval process,” Dr. Trey said in a written response, after being shown a transcript of the telephone call.
“People under the communist rule are usually very afraid of making a mistake, because it could lead to fatal consequences,” Trey said. So by directly referring to the court’s approval of the organ sourcing, “he actually strongly confirms the statement,” Dr. Trey said. “It’s a double-yes.”
The fact of state involvement further indicates, Dr. Trey said, that the harvesting of Falun Gong has not been done by underground syndicates or a few doctors, “but with the full knowledge and approval of the state.”
He says that global health bodies like the World Health Organization and World Medical Association should be inquiring into court records that would have been produced in the course of providing living Falun Gong adherents for people like Wang Lijun and Chen Rongshan.
Dr. Trey also pointed out that the research collaboration between Wang and Chen, involving “organ-transplantation-after-drug-injection” potentially involved human experimentation “in which Falun Gong practitioners were subject to ‘drug injections’ and that after the drug injections, organs were possibly removed while the victims were still alive.”
He added: “This is very likely, because it wouldn’t make sense to inject drugs to a cadaver and then remove organs for transplantation.”
Chen’s work has received recognition previously. On May 23, 2006, Liaoxi Economic Daily ran an article on its B4 print edition titled “A Military Doctor’s Noble Realm and Pursuit.”
The article said: “Chen Rongshan, Director of Urology of 205 Hospital of PLA in Jinzhou, has performed as many as 568 kidney transplants in recent years … His reputation drew patients from Taiwan, Korea, and Malaysia.”
With the publication of the recent admission however, Chen may have difficulty getting into the United States, where his daughter currently lives. He last visited her with his wife in early 2012, according to WOIPFG. The group plans to pass the record of their investigation into Chen to “concerned U.S. departments.”
The U.S Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160, since June 2011, asks whether the applicant “has participated in forced human organ transplantation.” The Visa applicants who answer yes to this question are often denied a visa.
The State Department was not immediately available for comment.
On June 13, 2012, another investigator called Chen pretending to be a secretary for Wang Jia. Wang Jia is the former director of the 205 PLA Hospital, and currently a deputy minister of the Ministry of Health of the Joint Logistics Department in the Shenyang Military Base.
“The former director asks me to send you a message,” the caller said.
After Chen began to engage in the conversation, the investigator said, “No matter which supervising department comes to investigate the removal of organs from Falun Gong practitioners for organ transplants, you must not disclose any secret. Can you do that?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Chen said. “Just don’t be careless in talking about this and it’ll be fine, right?”
For to see the article and the call transcript: Chinese Doctor Admits to Falun Gong Organ Harvest
Tags: Body & Mind, books, Culture, Economy, environmental issues, Society, sustainable development
In spite of our protests to the contrary, as individuals, we prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar. We prefer to surround ourselves by people who think like us and share our ideals and values.
We crave conformity over critical thinking and individuality—heck, our schools and industries are filled with examples of talented people ‘toeing the party line.’
We stay silent when we should speak out or question for fear of being ostracized.
This may allow us to construct a world around us that feels cozy and safe, but it also blinds us to valuable information and behaviors that should alert or alarm us. We stay silent when we should speak out or question for fear of being ostracized or ousted from the group. This fear of not belonging primes us into becoming willfully blind.
Ignorance No Excuse
The term “willfully blind” is a legal phrase that can be traced to the 19th century. It refers to a situation in which, if an individual could have and should have known something, then the law treats it as if he knew it. The claim of not knowing isn’t a sufficient defense.
Margaret Heffernan notes in Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril (Random House): “The law doesn’t care why you remain ignorant, only that you do.”
Examples of willful blindness are evident everywhere, from ignoring (or failing to read) your financial statements to delaying attending the doctor for a symptom that just won’t go away.
While we tell ourselves that ignorance is bliss, unfortunately this level of inattention can ultimately destroy us. After all, just because we don’t look at the statement doesn’t mean we don’t owe money and won’t still lose the house.
Heffernan’s proposition in Willful Blindness is that when capitalism is part of the equation, the tendency to be deliberately blind elevates exponentially.
Corporate executives greedy for compensation, politicians who vote for legislation knowing it will never work, and auditors who turn blind eyes to findings because they don’t want to lose their client’s business all make destructive blunders because of willful blindness.
The conclusion Heffernan reaches is that fear of change and conflict can blind us to evidence. And so can the power of the almighty dollar.
Chapter by chapter, the author challenges readers to stop turning a blind eye. She points to historical evidence, such as the days of the Hitler regime—when so many people turned away and did not want to see what was happening right under their noses.
Heffernan quotes a letter written to an Austrian concentration camp by a local woman during World War II. The woman requests that “inhuman deeds be discontinued, or else be done where no one has to see them.” The fact that you don’t want to see that which makes you uncomfortable doesn’t change what’s happening or your culpability as a bystander.
Willful Blindness forces readers to explore such indisputable evidence of our tendency to blindness. The author’s research covers personal, corporate, and political genres, from the BP refinery explosion in Texas and in the Gulf, to Enron, to hurricane Katrina, and the subprime mortgage meltdown, to tanning beds, Bernie Madoff, and global warming. There are too many examples to ignore, and yet our ability to do so is staggering.
Heffernan notes that “people are about twice as likely to seek information that supports their own point of view as they are to consider an opposing idea.” They’re particularly “resistant to changing what they know how to do, what they have expertise in and certainly what they have economic investment in.”
We mostly admit the information that makes us feel great about ourselves, while conveniently filtering out whatever unsettles our egos.
Victims of Complacency
A challenge to our big ideas feels life-threatening. And so we strive mightily to reduce the pain, either by ignoring the evidence that proves we are wrong, or by reinterpreting evidence to support us.
In today’s fast-paced society, our demand for longer working hours and quest for multi-tasking regimens is only contributing to our vulnerability and putting us at even greater peril.
Heffernan, however, does pose a few antidotes to willful blindness. She warns that if a group is too comfortable (complacent) with one another, it ought to sound alarm bells. It is when we are most uncomfortable, she writes, that we are able to avoid slipping into the mind-trap of Willful Blindness.
Tags: Body & Mind, books, Culture, Near-Death Experiences, Science, Spirituality
In March 1987 Dawn Gillott was admitted to Northampton General Hospital, in the U.K., seriously ill with pneumonia. After being placed in intensive care, the physicians decided to perform a tracheotomy because she could not breathe.
Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick quoted her in their book The Truth in the Light: “The next thing I was above myself near the ceiling looking down. One of the nurses was saying in what seemed a frantic voice, ‘Breathe, Dawn, breathe.’ A doctor was pressing my chest, drips were being disconnected, everyone was rushing round.
“I couldn’t understand the panic, I wasn’t in pain. Then they pushed my body out of the room to the theater. I followed my body out of the ITU and then left on what I can only describe as a journey of a lifetime.
“I went down what seemed like a cylindrical tunnel with a bright warm inviting light at the end. I seemed to be traveling at quite a speed, but I was happy, no pain, just peace.
“At the end was a beautiful open field, a wonderful summery smell of flowers. There was a bench seat on the right where my Grandfather sat (he had been dead seven years). I sat next to him. He asked me how I was and the family. I said I was happy and content and all my family were fine.
“He said he was worried about my son; my son needed his mother, he was too young to be left. I told Grampi I didn’t want to go back, I wanted to stay with him. But Grampi insisted I go back for my children’s sake. I then asked him if he would come for me when my time came. He started to answer, ‘Yes, I will be back in four’—then my whole body seemed to jump. I looked round and saw that I was back in the ITU.
“I honestly believe in what happened, that there is life after death. After my experience I am not afraid of death as I was before my illness.”
The near-death experience described above is not rare. Hundreds of similar cases involving people reporting that while seriously ill or injured they left their bodies, observed the surrounding scene, entered a tunnel, emerged in another world where they met deceased friends or relatives before returning to their bodies have been carefully documented in several different countries. The case above is not even a particularly impressive one.
At first glance, such cases seem to indicate that under life-threatening circumstances the conscious part of us is capable of detaching from our physical bodies, and may travel to another world. The overwhelming majority of those who have had such experiences are utterly convinced of the existence of an afterlife.
However, there are those who disagree, and who argue that such experiences simply cannot be what they at first seem to be.
Mind and Body
I began research into my recent book Science and the Near-Death Experience by examining the question of whether or not consciousness depends on the brain. Various materialist theories to that effect were examined, and I found that all the arguments for the dependence of the mental on the physical, such as the effects of age, disease, brain damage, and drugs on the mind, are all based on an unstated assumption.
The implicit assumption made in all the materialist arguments was that the relationship between brain activity and consciousness was always one of cause to effect, and never that of effect to cause. But this assumption is not known to be true, and it is not the only conceivable one consistent with the observed facts mentioned above.
Just as consistent with the observed facts is the idea that the brain’s function is that of an intermediary between mind and body, or in other words, that the brain’s function is that of a two-way receiver-transmitter, sometimes from body to mind, and sometimes from mind to body.
Next … the transmission hypothesis can explain everything …
- Near-Death Experiences: 30 Years of Research — Part 5
- Does a Mind Need a Brain?
- A By-Product of Heart Transplants
Tags: Body & Mind, books, Children, psychology
As holiday time winds down and the calendar beckons a fresh, new year, many will resolve to do things better this time around, consulting a plethora of books to guide them in their pursuits of less weight, more money, reduced stress, increased joy, or any number of personal goals.
If it’s calmer, happier children and a harmonious family life you’re aiming for this year, Simplicity Parenting, Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross is worth a read.
An experienced education consultant and counselor, Payne asserts that “our society—with its pressure of ‘too much’—is raging an undeclared war on childhood.”
“It doesn’t come as a throwaway comment,” Payne explained to Whole Living in an interview, “it is very serious. I think our children are suffering from sensory overwhelm, like a sensory tsunami. But we, unlike a lot of wars that we see in the world, can declare peace in our homes.There’s so much booming and buzzing in the world, so wanting to have a peaceful home is just establishing a balance.”
Simplicity Parenting takes aim at all that is overloading our senses, and more specifically, those of our children, and calls on parents to embrace a less is more philosophy. “We are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too much speed. With this level of busyness, distractions, time-pressure, and clutter (mental and physical), children are robbed of the time and ease they need to explore their worlds and their emerging selves.”
Through detailed examples and thoroughly fleshed out analysis about the realities of modern life, the authors make a strong case for the need to simplify when it comes to kids. “Simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart. With less physical and mental clutter, your attention expands, and your awareness deepens.”
A plan focusing on four areas: the environment, rhythm, schedules, and filtering out the adult world is prescribed to offer peace and security to children in their formidable years and, as a consequence, to the family at large.
Some recommendations may shock the reader upon a first pass. What reaction might children have to cutting their pile of toys in half and then in half again? What might the members of the household think of less “screen time” and (gulp) giving up television?
The family stories presented in Simplicity Parenting, however, drive home what most of us inherently realize—that the excesses and busyness our children are subjected to may actually be doing more harm than good.
From television and computer time, to participation in competitive sports, to the predictability of the unfolding of each day’s events, to sleep patterns, to academics, to meal time, to clutter, to wardrobe, and even the issue of too many books, Simplicity Parenting addresses familiar concerns of parents and flies in the face of the pressures they can feel to give their children every opportunity to advance early and succeed in life.
Simplicity, the authors argue, and quite convincingly, “will provide your child with greater ease and well-being.” Whether it is some general inspiration, specific ideas to implement, or a new way of life you are looking for, “Simplicity Parenting” is an eye-opening read (especially around the holidays which can bring along a unique brand of excess) for modern-day parents.
Looking for a better parenting approach in the new year? It’s simple.
Tags: books, Culture, poetry, Spirituality
This year, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to the Swedish writer Tomas Tranströmer.
Congratulations! An author loved by many.
Inside the huge romanesque church
the tourists jostled in the half darkness.
Vault gaped behind vault, no complete view.
A few candle-flames flickered.
An angel with no face embraced me
and whispered through my whole body:
“Don’t be ashamed of being human, be proud!
Inside you vault opens behind vault endlessly.
You will never be complete, that’s how it’s meant to be.”
Blind with tears
I was pushed out on the sun-seething
piazza together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones,
Herr Tanaka and Signora Sabatini,
and inside them all vault opened behind vault endlessly.
More articles: Swedish Poet Wins Nobel Literature Prize
Tags: books, CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents
The biography “Wild Swans”, by Jung Chang, is a book that has meant a lot to me when it comes to understanding what happened in China during the 1900’s, what the “Cultural Revolution” was all about, and what it meant for the Chinese people. Wild swans may also partly explain why it is like it is in China today.
Jung Chen has also written a book about Mao, “Mao – The Unknown Story”. This book speaks its truth about Mao Tse-tung. Mao ruled China 1949-1976, and he’s responsible for countless crimes and atrocities during those years.
[…] Published two years after the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Jung Chang’s family memoir, following the lives of three generations of women through China’s terrible 20th century, arrived at just the right time to satisfy a readership hungry for information about this unknown country. For many in the west, Wild Swans was their first real insight into life under the Chinese Communist party. Now, with her long-awaited second book co-written with her husband, the historian Jon Halliday, Chang aims to expose the true character of the man responsible for so much misery – Chairman Mao. “He was as evil as Hitler or Stalin, and did as much damage to mankind as they did,” Chang says. “And yet the world knows astonishingly little about him.”
The result of more than 10 years of research, trawling archives all over the world and hundreds of interviews, she hopes that Mao: The Unknown Story will leave readers in no doubt that his 27-year rule was one of the most merciless in a cruel century. “Seventy million killed at the absolute minimum. We didn’t even count people like my grandmother’s death – which should really be on Mao’s account. That figure only includes people who were murdered by Mao – and in peace time, which is completely unprecedented in the history of the world.”
Another entry: How Come One can Follow and Honour a Massmurderer??