I was recently the focus of an unorganized intervention by some family and friends who joyfully informed me about an amusing tic that I repeatedly expressed throughout my lectures. Specifically, after making some point in the presentation that I thought was very essential in providing life-enhancing awareness, I would unconsciously ask, “Why is this relevant?”
Unbeknownst to me, through the habitual use of this expression, I created a “stock phrase” used to personalize my presentations. Audiences, in anticipation, would look forward to my blurting-out, “Why is this relevant?”. In my mind, I turned this lemon, the “tic,” into lemonade, I came to see it as expression of something new, a “verbal” punctuation mark.
Both conventional science and new-edge science agree that, at its basic level, life derives from molecular movements within a biochemical mechanism. To uncover the real secret of life that lies beyond mere mechanics, we are obliged to first examine the mechanical nature of our cells. This information is relevant to our survival, which is more of a question now than ever before.
To make it easier to understand life according to new-edge science, we’ve created an illustration of a cell with metaphorical parts: a set of gears, driven by a motor, controlled by a switch, and monitored by a gauge. (For readers not mechanically inclined, we ask for your patience. There is a pay off. )
By Deepak Chopra, MD, Poonacha Machaiah, MBA, Srini Pillay, M.D.
The need for advances in mental health is growing, and the problems are reaching more people than ever. No one would be shocked to hear that nearly 30% of Americans have seen a therapist during the pandemic, according to one online survey. “Those most likely to seek help include victims of layoffs or furloughs (46%), Gen Zers (39%) and millennials (37%), and men (34%).” The survey, by ValuePenguin, reflects a critically stressful time. But this spike in numbers isn’t adequate to represent the number of people in mental distress that is either temporary or chronic. According to a poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, more than half of parents are worried about their children’s mental well-being.
For over 15 years, scientists have been warning the public and government that human behavior has precipitated the planet’s Sixth Mass Extinction Event. The previous five mass extinction events were due to natural causes such as tectonic plate movements, massive earthquake and volcanic activity. The last extinction event occurred over 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid hit the Yucatán Peninsula in southern Mexico. That massive collision upended the web of life resulting in over 75% of all organisms going extinct, including all the dinosaurs.
Hello Dear Friends, Cultural Creatives & Seekers Everywhere,
As a Professor in the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine, I taught medical students the conventional insights of The Central Dogma, the notion referred to in the biological curriculum as Genetic Determinism. This is the belief that genes “control” our biological traits, including our anatomy, our behavioral and our emotional traits.” Simply, our lives are “programmed” in the DNA (genes) we acquired from our parents at conception.
While that was the conventional story in the classroom, my research on stem cells in 1967 revealed an alternative reality. The clonal cell culture studies showed that genetically identical cells grown in chemically different culture media (their “environment”) expressed different developmental fates. The research emphasized that Environment controls genes!!! Twenty-three years later, science officially recognized this new awareness as the revolutionary new scientific field of Epigenetics. Epigenetic science emphasizes the role of “Nurture” over Nature.
As far as we know, we did not choose our genes; we cannot change our genes if we don’t like their traits; and on top of that, we are taught that genes turn on-and-off by themselves. For example, when people say that a cancer gene (oncogene) turns “on,” they are emphasizing the idea that genes make decisions that control our fate. Genetic determinism states that genes “control” our lives and we cannot in turn “control” our genes … we are powerless victims of our heredity. This leads to the notion that cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc., “runs” in families because of inherited genes. With this belief, Nature, not Nurture, controls our life experiences.
“A human body is a “skin-covered” culture dish, containing about 50 trillion cells growing in the original culture medium, our blood. Relevance: It does not make a difference if a cell is grown in a plastic culture dish or a skin covered culture dish, genetic activity and behavior are controlled by the chemistry of the laboratory’s culture medium or the body’s blood.
Aha! The final insight is that blood chemistry is controlled by the brain serving as an information processor that translates images from the mind into complementary, gene-regulating chemistry in the blood. Hormones, neuropeptides, growth factors and molecules of emotion represent blood-borne factors that control genes and behavior.
A fundamental principle of quantum physics is that consciousness creates the character of our lives. How’s that working out for you ? … are you manifesting Heaven-on-Earth ? Very few are. The reason is that programs in the subconscious mind control our behavior around 95% of the day , acting as an “autopilot” when the creative conscious mind is engaged in thought. Problems arise because greater than 50% of subconscious behavioral programs represent disempowering, self-sabotaging, and limiting beliefs, which obviously, when engaged, undermine our wishes and desires.
Big conclusion. The upside is that Epigenetics reveals that we are not victims but are actually masters of our genetics. The downside for most of the world’s population is that they are still victims, not of their genome, but of the programs in their mind. The creative (self) conscious mind provides for our wishes, desires, and aspirations, while the subconscious mind is a “hard-drive” engaging behavioral programs derived from instincts, life experiences and knowledge provided by parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders.
The good news is that to thrive into the future, we don’t need to alter our genetics … it’s a lot easier than that. All we have to do is rewrite limiting self-conscious beliefs that prevent us from experiencing our wishes and desires. Armed with the empowering knowledge of the role of “self” in manifesting life’s desires, individuals will gain the “self-empowerment” that will enable them to heal the planet and provide for a healthy, sustainable civilization.
Please support our evolution by spreading this “Good News"
The science described in Spontaneous Evolution illuminated the fact the human evolution is predicated on all people recognizing they are the equivalent of “cells” collectively forming the body of a super-organism, Humanity. With the biological insights described above, in conjunction with this month’s accompanying video, we can understand how divisive, polarizing cultural and religious programs are impeding the survival of civilization now under threat of the self-imposed 6th Mass Extinction Event.
The whole thrust of the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is to make machines interact with us more like humans. In practical terms this involves building a computer or robotic device that can take over a human task and do it just as well or better. But how often do we ask the opposite question: Can AI makeusmore human?
This is an endlessly fascinating question once you go into it. The reason a machine isn’t human is that it has no interior life—it has no experience at all, while a person’s inner life is the source of everything human. Everything going on “in here” is overwhelming. We constantly think, feel, perceive, worry, dream, wish, remember, create, on and on. At this point, even the most optimistic AI proponent cannot foresee a computer or robot that does any of these things, so how can it make us more human?
Classical Physics, founded by Isaac Newton, was one of the most important contributions in the early days of the Scientific Revolution. Physics is the science that defines the mechanisms of how the Universe works. A fundamental principle in Newton’s version of physics is that the Universe is divided into two realms: Matter and Energy. While physical matter can affect matter, and invisible energy can affect energy, there are virtually no interactions wherein the energy and matter realms can affect one another. The difference between the two realms was so distinct that the study of physical matter was specifically identified as “physics,” a field of science, while studies on the invisible energy forces were deemed “metaphysics” and relegated to religious and spiritual “science.”
In a rational world, when a mystery presents itself, the mind goes to work to solve the mystery. This approach works very well when it comes to explaining the sudden extinction of the dinosaur or what is making a patient sick, but it works much less well when it comes to the mystery of the human body. All of us are in intimate contact with that mystery, and so we are presented with a choice.
The first choice is to follow the usual rational procedures to understand how the body works. A massive amount of information has been collected in this way. Measurements, data, and research studies pour in every day. But there is another choice that is not well known to most people, which is to live the mystery. There is a stark difference between these two paths, as we will show.
Stress has been a familiar term for decades, and the problems caused by chronic stress are legion. There is no reason to continue to put up with the rush and pressure, the demands and crises of modern life, when toxic stress is involved in most lifestyle disorders. No one is immune to stress, and despite the claims of some high-powered, competitive people, no one thrives on stress. What, then, can be done?
First, we need to get beyond the popular use of the term. When people say that they are stressed out, they mean that undue pressure makes them feel exhausted or overwhelmed. Certainly, this can be true, but stress, medically speaking, is a pressure that pushes the body out of its normal state of balance (or allostasis, and eventually homeostasis), requiring various processes like heart rate, blood pressure, and hormonal balance to kick in so that the stressor, as it is called, can be overcome. For a long time, much emphasis was placed on the stress response in the form of fight-or-flight. The point was made that unlike our remote ancestors, who needed fight-or-flight as a mechanism when under threat from predators, in modern life fight-or-flight is an evolutionary holdover that long ago outlived its usefulness.
The greatest threat now is not from fighting predators, going to war, or facing bodily harm. The greatest threat is from low-level chronic stress, which causes a milder version of the stress response. The full-blown stress response is not sustainable past a brief period, counted in fractions of an hour, at which point a rebound effect automatically occurs, causing the stressed person to feel exhausted and drowsy. This automatic shut-off valve is not present in low-level chronic stress, which can be maintained for days, months, and years, as attested to by people who stay in toxic relationships or endure stressful job conditions.
One of the mysteries of human existence is the fact that you do not fly apart into a cloud of atoms and molecules but instead hold together as a living, breathing, thinking organism. It is said that we live on the edge of chaos, because the human body has adapted to counter an enormous range of accidents, mistakes, wounds, illnesses, and stresses that would cause a non-living system to be wrecked.
A simple example is your joints. You bend and unbend your fingers hundreds of times a day. Take a bar of steel and bend it hundreds of times. It will break, which your fingers don’t. In fact, they get better at whatever they are doing, such as practicing the piano, a repeated activity that creates more order even though playing the piano or violin demands unending movements that look random if you happen to be deaf.
The study of chaos has progressed far enough that you can take any phenomenon, from the weather to a beating heart, traffic patterns to brain waves, and study it as the contest between order and chaos. Your life depends on the predictable (orderly) sequence of events that produces a healthy heartbeat, and if the sequence gets out of sync, the heart can go into irregular activity anywhere from a benign irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) to a random convulsion (fibrillation) that proves fatal.
One of the great failures in science is still haunting us, the failure to discover why living things are alive. One of the most promising theories was known as vitalism, which held that some undiscovered “life force” or “spark of life” is what separates living things like trees, cats, and amoebas from non-living things like rocks, water, and salt. Vitalism was once so promising that the Nobel Prize was given to a champion of vitalism, the French philosopher Henri Bergson, in 1927. But significantly, the prize was in literature, since no one, however enamored of vitalism, could provide scientific evidence for any kind of life force.
The tables were decisively turned to the opposite of vitalism, known as functionalism, which breaks life down into processes like metabolism, growth, reproduction, adaptation, evolution and extinction.. That’s where we find ourselves today, which poses a huge problem. Vitalism and functionalism are opposites, which implies that in the game of either/or, if one is false, the other must be true. But unfortunately, functionalism doesn’t explain life, either. It explains how life behaves, which isn’t the same thing.
One of the strangest mysteries in everyday life is that it is much easier to stay alive than to be alive in the first place. There’s a cascade of processes inside us that is perfectly synchronized—a body remains alive as long as its organs are alive, organs remain alive as long as tissues are alive, and tissues remain alive as long as cells are alive. This cascade has been understood for centuries, and yet no one knows why cells are alive to begin with. They don’t deserve to be, because the teeming chemical reactions inside a heart, liver, or brain cell can easily be reproduced in a test tube without showing any signs of life.
Science is far more comfortable asking “how” than “why,” and if you ask how cells operate, the picture is fairly clear once each microscopic process inside a cell is analyzed as biochemistry. The bottom line is that 99% of biology centers on the “how” of living things. The nagging question of “why?” is ignored as basically unscientific. Unfortunately, there is no “how” without “why.” If two cars collide, the physics of one machine crashing into another is cut and dried, but to really explain what happens, you have to determine if one driver was distracted by a phone call, drunk, or something else.
In the search for life on other planets, a concept known as the Goldilocks zone is critical. This is the region, not too close to a star but also not too far away, that makes the development of life possible. The critical factor is heat, since being too close to a star, as Mercury and Venus are in our solar system, is intolerably hot while being too far away, as Saturn and Jupiter are, is intolerably cold. The Goldilocks zone makes sense, although there has to be a fudge factor, since large enough planets and moons can generate their own heat.
Yet simple as it sounds, the goldilocks zone determines in many ways how successful someone’s life will be and at the same time the likelihood of enjoying wellness to age 70 and beyond. The human Goldilocks zone begins with our physiology. The human body has a surprisingly narrow range of temperature for survival—it is life-threatening to have a fever over 105oF. or hypothermia below 95oF. for a sustained amount of time. Our Goldilocks zone for internal temperature is therefore only 10 degrees.
There is no good reason, from everything science tells us, why the human body shouldn’t be perfect. The scientific model builds Nature up from the simplest, smallest components to the largest and most complex. There is no doubt that at the smallest scale subatomic particles, atoms and molecules, and are perfect, because they have endured without change for billions of years.
Did imperfections arise with the beginning of life on Earth? Single-cell microorganisms are thousands, perhaps millions, of times larger and more complex than the smallest molecules that they are built from. But one-celled creatures have endured for something like 3.5 billion years. Since they reproduce by cell division, the most ancient forms of amoebas, algae, protists, and so on are actually still with us–literally the first amoeba has never died or aged. Life forms with complex structures constitute much less than one percent of living things; a bucket of ocean water is likely to contain hundreds of unknown variations on their DNA.
Imperfection gained the stage thanks to the same force that produced perfection: evolution. We suffer from disease, resist ageing, and fear death, but all of these are creative steps as far as evolution is concerned, since evolution triumphs through maximum diversity and an endless supply of new genes leading to improvements.
Since no one wants to age, there is a tremendous incentive to prevent, slow down or even reverse it. But all these efforts run into the same obstacle. No one actually knows what aging is or precisely what causes it. On its face, this riddle shouldn’t exist. The universe is subject to entropy, which causes everything, including the universe itself, to run down like a child’s toy whose battery slowly runs down. Biology chimes in with the obvious fact that all higher living things grow old and die.
But reality changes depending on your viewpoint, and one viewpoint tells us that aging, especially human aging, could be a mistake. First, we need to counter the evidence that living things must grow old and die. This is more easily done than you might suppose. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the counter-argument against aging.
Entropy refers to the dissipation of heat by which warm things grow colder. But those are inanimate things. Life preserves and increases energy. Putting on a coat in winter effectively defeats entropy, and so have all living forms for at least four billion years.
The universe may die a “heat death” as it approaches absolute zero, but in the meantime, complex forms keep arising and surviving. The force that creates them is evolution.
Unique among the living things yet discovered, Homo sapiens can consciously choose to evolve.
Long ago Homo sapiens escaped the prison of Darwinian survival of the fittest by moving in any direction that offers more complexity, creativity, and discovery.
There’s an old joke about a man who falls off the Empire State Building. As he passes an office window on the way down, someone shouts, “How are you going?” and the man answers, “I’m okay so far.” I don’t know anyone who doesn’t laugh at the punchline the first time they hear the joke, but there’s also a wince thinking about the thud that awaits the man at the end.
Science has been okay—so far—in explaining how nature works, riding the crest of success for several centuries now. But the thud is near at hand, as outlined in a very readable, perceptive online article titled “The Blind Spot,”jointly written by two physicists, Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser, and a philosopher, Evan Thompson. The blind spot referred to in the title has been of tremendous but hidden importance in your life.
The blind spot refers to science’s rejection of consciousness as a key factor in describing reality. Rigidly adhering to a belief that it holds the key for explaining everything, science hasn’t seen its own blind spot—or taken it seriously, with a few exceptions—and therefore the vast majority of working scientists don’t hear the thud that awaits them. The authors of the article do, and they go right to the heart of the problem. As they view it, science has been wrong on two counts. The first is the belief that science can accurately and objectively describe the real world as it exists. The second is the belief that physical reality is all that must be accounted for.
Paige Harbour is a university student who assists me as an editor and in social networking. She is also an astute observer of these times and a brilliant thinker and writer who has her hand on the pulse of the generation born around the beginning of this millennium. I've asked her to write a guest newsletter. — John Perkins When COVID shut down my college campus my school bag was shoved deep into a closet. After more than a year of quarantine and confusion it is still filled with past assignments, printed worksheets ready for the recycling bin. It surprises me how far-away my pre-pandemic memory is situated – these assignments are now hardly recognizable to me. One of these papers was a ten-year plan, meant to be finished for a sociology class, still a blank page.
That semester had involved taking an environmental sciences course; an activity that can be summarized as three months of terrible news. News about all the ways in which humanity had profoundly damaged our only home, news about how all the wrong people were going to suffer immeasurably for these crimes against the planet. We sat listening, cycling through rapt attention and total dissociation. Massive extinction events, cataclysmic fires, rising tides. Threads of synthetic fabric and splintered plastic fragments are in the ground, the water, the food we eat. Did you know Iceland now holds funerals for melting glaciers? It felt as though the world was dying, yet I was expected to continue living.
In 1967, I was learning the technique of growing cells in plastic culture dishes at the University of Virginia. There are two fundamental steps in the process: Step 1) Creating a suspension of isolated single cells to be inoculated into a culture dish; and Step 2) Creating culture medium, the fluid environment in which cells grow.
Starting with embryonic muscle tissue, digestive enzymes are used to breakdown the connective tissue matrix of the muscle, which frees individual cells. In the enzyme-saline solution, the released free cells are spun down in a centrifuge tube forming a pellet at the bottom of tube. The cell pellet is resuspended in fresh culture medium and a sample is pipetted into each culture dish. The suspended cells settle down, attach to dish’s surface, and begin to grow. The cultured cells live in a fluid environment referred to as culture medium. Growth medium is the laboratory version of blood, the fluid environment that cells live in within the body.
The notion that human beings walk, talk, think, and do things because our brains control us is an argument that has been around for decades. It replaced the religious argument that the soul is what drives us or some divine spark ignited by a divine creator.
Now the average person accepts that the brain is a machine analogous to a computer, and when we believe that we have free will, we are mistaken. This view suggests we are like brain puppets driven by the mechanical operation of neurons. Robbed of free will, we only have to go a step further to see that even being conscious is an illusion. As long as the machine-brain is in charge, anything else we tell ourselves is just a story.
Yet the flaws in this argument have been pointed out many times.
In 1958, Francis Crick, co-founder with James Watson of the DNA genetic code, defined the concept referred to as The Central Dogma. This dogma described how the organizing information in biology represented a one-way flow from DNA > RNA > Protein.
The Central Dogma provided the foundation for the principle of Genetic Determinism, the belief that genes “determine” the character and quality of our lives. While I taught this concept to medical students for over a decade, it was only after I left academia that I looked-up the definition of Dogma: A belief based on religious persuasion and not scientific fact. At that moment I realized I had been teaching religion in medical school.
When confronted with the real definition of dogma, Crick responded, “I used the word the way I myself thought about it, not as most of the world does, and simply applied it to a grand hypothesis that, however plausible, had little direct experimental support."
The main point is that The Central Dogma, a hypothesis that was never tested, has been repeated so consistently over the last 60 years that people have bought it to be a scientific fact. This dogma has always been an unverified “suggestion.”
Join Panache Desai each weekday morning for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.