Shifting Perspective / Shifting State

Me Bodyboarding in Guiones, Costa Rica

Me bodyboarding on Playa Guiones

During a recent surf session, as the lineup got more crowded and the number of waves decreased, I noticed myself becoming territorial of my space, competitive for waves, and somewhat agitated. As my frustration levels went up, my performance went down; I was missing waves and wiping out and getting even more frustrated.

As I become aware of my state and how it was negatively affecting me, I was able to shift it to one of acceptance. And why not choose acceptance? I was healthy and playing in the warm ocean in a beautiful tropical setting. With acceptance, I stopped worrying about the people around me. I waited patiently, enjoying my surroundings, for waves to come to me instead of trying to force my self onto waves. I started to find flow, my performance increased, I was catching more waves. In short, being aware of and then shifting my state changed my experience.

There's always another perspective available to us if we choose.

Dear Israelis : Please Wake Up

The greatest wisdom traditions throughout human history have all pointed to a similar truth: that we are all one. Granted, a natural part of evolution, both individually and culturally, involves an ego based identity that defines who we are and who we aren't. I am this and you are that. I am a Jew and you are a Muslim. Indeed, it is an important developmental step but at some point, the next step is to get over yourself. The greater truth is that we are all part of something that transcends (but also includes) these seemingly separate identities. Even most separate dogmatic religions point to this truth with a law or commandment such as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Of course and obviously, not everyone embodies or even "sees" this greater truth. From their narrow perspective, these people fight for their identities by trying to bring down competing identities. Most of us have experienced the uncomfortable result of this in high school. At the level of nation-states, however, this is a disaster. With regard to Israel and Palestine, this is a disaster.

Until these nationalistic and extremist Jewish settlers "get over themselves" they will continue to operate from a less developed, less caring, less inclusive place. That's fine if they are keeping to themselves but, in this case, they are destroying lives.

When a less developed worldview is creating suffering it is up to a more developed one to step in and say "no, this is wrong". Ultimately, the more developed worldview recognizes that the extremist settlers are not just destroying the lives of Palestinians, they are actually destroying their own lives. We are, after all, all one.

What Is Consciousness?

I like this quote from a Stuart Hammeroff, a medical doctor specializing in anesthesiology who has studied consciousness for the past 30 years:

Stuart Hameroff
Most people think that consciousness emerged over eons as a byproduct of random mutations and the inherent complexity of natural selection, but I look at it the other way around. I think a fundamental field of protoconscious experience has been embedded all along—since the big bang—in the [quantum realm], and that biology evolved and adapted in order to access it and to maximize the qualities and potentials implicit within it. . . I think that when you meditate and attain nothingness . . . it isn’t quite nothingness. You move more deeply into the basic fabric of the universe and actually become more consciously a part of it.

What Is Consciousness?: Stuart Hamerhoff and Deepak Chopra Video Discussion

In a previous blog post, I referenced a quote by Stuart Hameroff about the nature of consciousness. In the following video, Hameroff and Deepak Chopra discuss this topic in greater detail.

An important point is that consciousness does not arise at a certain level of complexity but is embedded into the very fabric of the universe itself. This point of view can help us realize the oneness we share with the world around us. (As differentiated entities in nature, some are more complex than others, some are more aware than others, but none are "better" than others; that would be like saying an organism is better than a cell).

Another important point is that humaness (i.e. consciousness) cannot be reduced to simple bio-chemical processes in the brain. Consciousness is not just a product of neurons in our brain acting as on-off switches, which, at a certain point of complexity create consciousness. (As a side note: the de-humanizing effect of this view point in the world of technology is the topic of a good book by Jaron Lanier called You Are Not a Gadget.)

Here's the video:

Imaginal Cells

From Wikipedia:

In metamorphosis, within the body of the caterpillar little things that biologists call imaginal discs or imaginal cells begin to crop up in the body of the caterpillar. They aren't recognized by the immune system so the caterpillar's immune system wipes them out as they pop up. It isn't until they begin to link forces and join up with each other that they get stronger and are able to resist the onslaught of the immune system, until the immune system itself breaks down and the imaginal cells form the body of the butterfly.

A Stream of Thought: Utopia 1.0


Sometimes, I wonder about Utopia. If the world could be any way you want it right now, what would that look like? That question is intimately tied to what truth is. Not long ago, truth for some people was that black people were meant to be slaves and people literally fought for a world with slaves in it.

So the question about what is true is a very important one. Followed all the way it, it leads us to the great wisdom traditions that have been pondering the question since the beginning of thought. Yes, many dogmatic religions have warped, twisted, and abused the traditional wisdom but we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The wisdom traditions generally suggest an Ultimate Truth, an Ultimate Beauty, an Ultimate Goodness; a God, a Spirit, a Source, an Omega Point that has always existed, right now, forever. And we, you and me, are THAT. We are not separate from God. Everything is perfect NOW. In certain states of being I have felt this to be true.

The tricky part is that held within this perfection is all things dark and, so called, evil. Cancer, slums, slavery, disease, poverty, injustice; these things exist within perfection; pushing us to question; pushing us to evolve. It is with the aforementioned wisdom, however, that darkness can be met and even embraced. This is especially important when it comes to ourselves but applies to the larger social issues as well.

Things are getting worse and things are getting better at the same time. It's a paradox; no matter how much light we bring into the world, darkness will continue because we need it...we are it. With darkness embraced (not aloofly accepted!) we can have Utopia, right now, in this moment that we are always striving to improve and is perfect just the way it is.

The Internet and Human Evolution towards a Noosphere


A few day's ago I posted an update about being in chinatown. It wasn't what I would consider an engaging post. It was created entirely on my cell phone, posted to the internet from my cell phone and, more than anything, it was a slice of my real time experience in that moment. That aspect of the post is, to me, extraordinarily interesting. Revolutionary is a word that's used much to often when talking about technology so I'm not going to use it here. I do believe, though, that the ability to access other people's real time experiences, as mundane as they might be individually, is evolutionary.

We are living in an era where, for the first time ever, human beings have access to the knowledge from all the cultures of the world. Interestingly, one of the common pieces of traditional wisdom that has been / is shared by many cultures, is the concept that separation is a type of illusion and that we are all, ultimately, one. In the 1920's, this dude named Pierre Teilhard de' Charidin theorized that humanity was evolving towards something he called the "noosphere", which is essentially a global brain or global consciousness. Somewhat related is the idea of formative causation. This theory proposed by the biologist Rupert Sheldrake states that the human entity is more than that which is contained within the "boundary" of our skin. Our very beings are connected to and are influenced by "morphic fields", patterns of energy which organize systems at all levels of complexity, and are the basis for the wholeness that we observe in nature, which is more than the sum of the parts.

My point is that homo sapien's continued development of connective technologies has created, in a very short time, the structures for a new evolutionary stage. One where many individual human beings exist with the awareness of themselves within, and as expresions of, a greater intelligence. What that greater intelligence might look like and what that greater intelligence might mean is a discussion for another day. For now, I am simply left pondering if, given advancements of the last 20 years, we might already have evolved beyond the genus "homo sapien". Perhaps "homo transitionalis" is a better classification.

Last Minutes With Oden

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

I put my comments below this video so I wouldn't influence your experience of it.....

I've watched it three times now and have teared up every time; it is incredibly sad. But, there is a message and a beauty in the sadness that makes this video something special (it won best video at the 2010 Vimeo Awards).

Of course, the message of unconditional love as taught by the life of Oden is an important aspect of the video. But, for me, the power of this video is in how it forces the viewer to confront emotion, particularly sadness. Our society tends to be hyper-masculinized; promoting the hero as a stoic warrior archetype and, genrally, teaching us to hide our emotion and feelings. Sometimes, though, the difficult emotions need to be brought to the surface. By observing them we can begin to find the truth, goodness, and beauty hidden within them.

In the case of Oden, the truth was that he was in pain and needed to be put down. There was a goodness to Oden's owners doing the right thing despite the grief it caused. And, there was beauty in Oden's life and message being recognized, appreciated, and passed on to anyone watching this video. If the owner, as he put it, "John Wayned" it and put the dog down without feeling the sadness, then the lessons of truth, goodness, and beauty would have been missed.

Robert Thurman's Buddhaverse


Robert Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University. He was one of the first American Buddhist monks of the Tibetan tradition and he has studied with and become a close friend of the Dali Lama. Being the father of ultra-hot Umma Thurman also adds to his impressive biography.

I have seen Thurman speak a couple of times and he is an extremely entertaining and informative speaker. The slideshow below is a comic-form adaptation of one of Thurman's lectures on buddhist mythology. It's pretty wild stuff that, while mythological, could quite possibly exist in realms of possibility

(You can also download the pdf of the comic by clicking the attachment link below... it might be a little easier to view it that way.)

Robert Thurman's Buddhaverse Slide Show