Conversations at the Leading Edge, Erie, PA: Epic Publishing, 1996
A New Worldview, edited and published by Russell E. DiCarlo, is somehow a radical book in that it really holds its promise: it presents a new worldview, and all its contributors are leading-edge scientists and paranormal healers of the highest caliber and with the highest credentials.
This is the most electrifying science book I have read so far, and each contribution is a major one. I go as far as saying that this book will really contribute changing your regard on life forever, and your regard on science as well because it presents, through and through, a holistic science approach of the finest, and part of its discourse is science theory, and systems theory.
It would be preposterous to even remotely attempt to paraphrase the contributions of this reader. I therefore decided to put a small number of quotes for each of the eight contributions to the reader that I present here. I think it would be a good idea to really follow up with each author after having read the quotes, and read some of their own books, which is why I have sought out for each author one of their most popular or bestselling books—and indeed all of the contributing authors to this reader are themselves bestselling authors.
Barbara Ann Brennan is a teacher, healer, therapist, author and scientist who has devoted the last 20 years to research and exploration of the human energy field. She holds a Master’s degree in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. In 1982, Barbara founded the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, which offers a 4-year Professional Healing Science Training Certification Program. She is regarded as one of the most adept spiritual healers in the Western Hemisphere. She has published several books, among which Hands of Healing: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field.
Editorial Book Reviews
Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field, by Barbara Ann Brennan, is a scientist’s look at the field of bioenergetic healing, offering specific techniques towards expanding perceptual tools of healing, seeing auras, understanding psychodynamics and the human energy field, and spiritual healing. Trained as a physicist and psychotherapist, Brennan has spent the last 15 years studying the human energy field and working as a healer. Hands of Light goes beyond conventional, objective knowledge while retaining scientific clarity. It details a study of the human energy field and how it is intimately connected to a person’s health and well being and contains essential information for anyone involved in healing and conscious health care, including people seeking to heal themselves. Science and spirituality may currently be at odds, but fortunately there will always be scientists who are spiritual seekers, and it is in the mingling of the two worlds where wisdom is born.
I have a scientific background, and from a scientific perspective, there aren’t any adequate experiments to tell you what the field really is. So I am going to have to speak solely from my experience as a healer who is able to perceive the field and work with it. From this perspective, the human energy field—which can be perceived by anyone with practice—is the matrix structure upon which the cells of the physical body grow. It is the template of the physical body./146-156, at 146
Based upon my experience as a healer conducting private sessions with clients spanning a fifteen year period, and as a teacher for as many, I can tell you that anything that happens in the physical body will happen in the pattern of the energy field first./146-156, at 146
In between the structured layers of the field is a bioplasma like energy that simply flows along the lines of the structured field pattern. It’s the energy that flows along the lines of the structured field pattern that changes very fast with thoughts and emotions, not the structured pattern itself. For example, if you stop yourself from feeling something, it will stop the flow of energy in the field. And if you experience the feeling, the energy will be released. There is a direct correlation. There are even correlations between the energy field and the part of the brain you are thinking with. As you change your thought patterns, the patterning of the field changes./146-156, at 147
When you forgive yourself, wonderful things happen. There is a certain tension and stagnated energy that is held in the field whenever there is anything that you won’t accept within yourself. It’s kind of like a mucous that you get when you have a cold. So you actually create distortions in your own energy pattern that have to do with unforgiveness towards yourself. These distortions will eventually lead to illness./146-156, at 148
Life is associated with constant movement in the personal energy field, so any attitude of non-forgiveness within the self will create blockage. When you have a non-forgiving attitude towards an individual, there will be a definite pattern in your field. The outer edge of your field will become rigid and brittle when interacting with that person. There will be additional ways that you will not let your life energy flow out towards that person. There are great bands of energy or bioplasmic streamers that normally flow between people when they interact. There’s an exchange of life energy that normally goes on between all living things. It’s not just human beings: there’s a flow between humans and animals, humans and plants. But if there is a sense of unforgiveness, all that will be stopped./146-156, at 149
If you look at the energy field, there are three major aspects: reason, will and emotion. All are associated with psychological phenomena. When you judge another, you stop the flow of your emotions towards that person which would be on the front of your body, and you would be pushing your energy to the back of the body, into the will, and then running it up into the mind. So you ‘will not’ accept that person, and then the energy moves up your body to the head region and you rationalize it in the mental sensors./146-156, at 149
When a person allows love into their field, the field becomes very soft, very flowing, resilient. The whole field blows up sort of like a balloon. It becomes very energized and the energy flows out of the field in a very healthy way./146-156, at 149
To feel grateful is one of the most important experiences we need as humans. When we feel it, there is an acceptance of everything in our life and a surrender to basic values in life. We can see the positive in everything and also feel thankful for it. That’s essential because it allows a connection to take place between the personality self and the deeper regions of the human being, the core essence or the divinity within. The intense energy from the core essence then irradiates out. It’s as if a corridor opens from the core essence of an individual, and the energy is able to flow out and into the entire world. Also, the connection from the personality to the spiritual or divinity within, is open and made more solid. Gratitude also puts the individual in synchronicity with the universal energy field that connects all of life, the flow of the life force, or the morphogenetic fields of the whole planet and the solar system. That is also very important because it puts you in sync with your life./146-156, at 150
There are several things that happen with fluorescent lights. The pulse of the fluorescent beats against the human energy field. It’s like two fields beating against each other, which I realize sounds terrible. Fluorescent lights also emit x-rays. So it really disrupts the human energy field. In my book there is a case study about a female client who came in for a healing session. The woman had been working on a computer under fluorescent lighting for about six months for 12 hours a day. She got very, very ill. She was in her twenties, and she was able to take the skin under her arm and stretch it out four inches. The first layer of her energy field was breaking down. After she quit her job she got well right away. /146-156, at 151
The study of the human energy field is as complicated as the study of the anatomy and physiology of the physical body. There is a subtle anatomy and physiology in the human energy field./146-156, at 151
If you are not getting what you really wanted to create, then what you are going to do is to create pain. That pain then will motivate you to change./146-156, at 153
The field of anyone who hasn’t done a lot of personal development work and transformed themselves will be quite brittle. It will be laden with blocks, stagnated energies, and probably tears, disruptions and imbalances./146-156, at 153
One major thing about the human energy field: energy and consciousness cannot be divided. So whenever the energy moves, you also experience it. You become consciously aware of it. Transformation is about becoming consciously aware of everything. In other words, awakening./146-156, at 153
From the broader spiritual perspective we are all connected in concentric spheres. Those who are closer around us are more involved in the creation of our personal reality than those who are outside of that sphere. You can expand that out concentrically. We not only create as individuals, we create as groups, as communities, as nations, and as the whole of humanity./146-156, at 155
Caroline Myss Ph.D. is an international lecturer in the field of human consciousness and is widely recognized for her pioneering work with Dr. C. Norman Shealy, former president of the American Holistic Medicine Association, in the area of the intuitive diagnosis of illness. Together they have written the book, The Creation of Health. According to Myss, the root cause of disease is not to be found at the level of the physical body, but rather at emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
Editorial Book Reviews
Who can help asking ‘Why?’ when they develop a disease? According to theologian and ‘medical intuitive’ Caroline Myss, Ph.D., and co-worker C. Norman Shealy, M.D., who is a physician, neurosurgeon, and expert on pain and stress management, the answer goes further than a medical explanation. The Creation of Health explores the emotional, physical, and spiritual patterns that form health and the stresses that can cause disease.
Myss identifies eight dysfunctional patterns that lead to illness. Being aware that ‘negative attitudes create negative responses within the physical body’ allows you to make changes toward health after identifying your emotional, psychological, and spiritual stresses. The most interesting chapters discuss specific diseases in terms of lifestyle factors, stress, and psychological patterns and energy factors, with case studies. A heart attack, for example, is ‘an explosion of energy attempting to break down an emotional barrier … caused by warehousing fears and anger’, says Myss. The authors alternate, rather than co-write, chapters and topics, so you know whose perspective you’re reading. The theoretical sections are not easy reading, but the insights you can apply to your own health make the work immensely worthwhile.
The pioneering work of Dr. Shealy and Caroline Myss is the best way I know to learn the dynamics of the human energy system. Applying the principles … outlined in this book in your own life may be the most important thing you do for your health this decade.
—Christiane Northrup M.D. is the author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.
An important book that addresses the crucial spiritual issues which lie at the root of many diseases … Shealy and Myss provide a clear understanding of the reasons behind ‘dis-ease’ as well as solutions that may heal the higher causes of illness.
—Richard Gerber M.D. is the author of Vibrational Medicine.
The human energy field shouldn’t be called that at all, but since we call it that, let’s define it very clearly. It’s better understood as an information center because that’s what it is. And that’s where you store all your messages. That’s where you store all your faxes. That’s where you warehouse everything. Your responses to everything and everyone, all your fear—everything—is stored in your energy field. Your responses form patterns that influence your electromagnetic circuitry. This dictates a quality control signal that influences the creation and quality of cell tissue./136-145, at 137
This means you would be taught to take responsibility for your attitudes and for the thoughts that you generate because you would be taught that from that moment on, every thought you have has a consequence in the physical world. It is irrelevant to me that you can’t see it. You’re going to live your life by that fact./136-145, at 137
Energy is intelligent. It is alive. It is information—energy is information. It is one and the same thing./136-145, at 137
Nobody ever goes to heaven sane. You have to go quite insane before you get enlightened./136-145, at 138
I cluster the 1st, 2nd and 3rd chakras under what I would call the tribal or the group mind. But instead of looking at each of the chakras individually, I cluster them. So the 1st, 2nd and 3rd are one unit, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th are another. Then there’s the 8th, which is symbolic. (…) At some point, every one of us, somewhere along the line—this life, next life—is destined to break free of the tribal mind and develop the upper 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th chakras. It is inevitable. This is the stage of individuation. The 4th thru the 7th chakras have nothing to do with time and space./136-145, at 139
So, in looking at the top level, when you start the journey of individuation—being an individual by pulling away from the tribal mind—you begin the journey of becoming congruent, of getting all the seven chakras lined up with a more mature will. That’s when you have to go into conflict with the tribal mind, because you are now purging yourself of what you want to believe versus you have been programmed to believe./136-145, at 143
If people could stay in present time for two days, their whole life would change, because the consequence of having that much energy would activate synchronicities—coincidences in their lives of being in the right place at the right time and that would change everything./136-145, at 145
Gary Zukav is the author of the book The Dancing Wu Li Masters, which won the 1979 American Book Award in Science, and helped to establish him as one of the foremost interpreters of the new physics. A graduate of Harvard University, he has also authored the book The Seat of the Soul, which describes the evolutionary journey of humanity from external power based upon the perception of the five senses, to authentic power based upon the perceptions and values of the soul.
Amazon Editorial Review
At an Esalen Institute meeting in 1976, tai chi master Al Huang said that the Chinese word for physics is Wu Li, ‘patterns of organic energy.’ Journalist Gary Zukav and the others present developed the idea of physics as the dance of the Wu Li Masters—the teachers of physical essence, Zukav explains.
Mary Ellen Curtin
The ‘new physics’ of Zukav’s 1979 book comprises quantum theory, particle physics, and relativity. Even as these theories age they haven’t percolated all that far into the collective consciousness; they’re too far removed from mundane human experience not to need introduction. The Dancing Wu Li Masters remains an engaging, accessible way to meet the most profound and mind-altering insights of 20th-century science.
This book is an extremely clear and easily understandable account of the latest developments in physics …
The evolutionary transition that humanity is now in has no precedent. There is nothing in our past from which we can extrapolate our future. (…) This evolutionary transition is one from a five sensory species that is evolving through the exploration of physical reality with the five senses to a species that is evolving through the alignment of the personality with the soul and that is not limited to the five senses. /317-330, at 317
Five sensory humans are not much interested in intuition, but multi-sensory humans are very interested in it because intuition is central to the multi-sensory human. Intuition is the voice of the nonphysical world. As we become multi-sensory, we become able to distinguish between personality and soul. (…) Personality is that part of an individual that was born into time, matures in time and dies in time. (…) The soul is that part of the individual that is immortal, that evolves in eternity./317-330, at 318
If we really believed that we were responsible after we leave the Earth for everything that we create while we are on the Earth, we would create very differently./317-330, at 318
The personality usually wants an attractive mate, money, a comfortable place to live, a healthy body—but the Universe gives us what the soul needs, in every case, in every instance, at every moment. /317-330, at 319
Aligning personality with soul is done through responsible choice with the assistance and guidance of nonphysical guides and Teachers. (…) Responsible choice means making choices that create consequences for which you are willing to assume responsibility./317-330, at 319
You create consequences no matter what you choose. If you do not choose consciously, you do not create consciously. It’s as simple as that. You create, but you create unconsciously. What you create unconsciously is what you have created in the past. If you do not choose to create consciously, you will continue to create the same painful experiences that you have created previously. You will continue to do that until, in this lifetime or another, you understand the origin of the pain that you are experiencing. Then you will change. The change will be thorough, complete, and permanent. /317-330, at 320
As we become multi-sensory, we enable accelerated spiritual growth./317-330, at 320
You can choose to cooperate instead of to compete. You can choose to share instead of hoard. You can choose to revere Life instead of exploit Life. You can choose to be interested in and support the growth of others instead of exploiting others. /317-330, at 320
The transformation in the human species is changing all of its social structures, including economics. The economics in which our current commercial activities are embedded is based on the assumption of scarcity and the orientation of exploitation. Economic theory assumes that it is natural for a significant portion of the human family to be in need, to be lacking the basic necessities of life, in addition to many things that are necessary for physical comfort. This perception is contrary to the reality of the Universe in which we are living and growing. As we become multi-sensory, this becomes more and more evident. The Universe is compassionate and abundant. It is alive, wise and eternal. It provides what each soul needs at each moment./317-330, at 321
If you have no meaning in your life, if you do not know why you are alive, you are not on the path that your soul wants to walk. As you begin to move in the direction that your soul wants you to move, you begin to get a sense of meaning. When your life is alive with meaning, when you are excited every day about what you are doing, when you want to get up, when you want to be with people, when you have no fear, when you have forgotten to worry, when you are fully engaged with your life, you are moving in alignment with your soul. That is authentic power./317-330, at 322
Decision-making today is primarily an intellectual function. We use logic and understanding that originates in the mind. This / logic and understanding is linear and exclusionary. That is, you cannot think of one thing without excluding others. You cannot understand something one way and understand it in other ways simultaneously. We are now developing a higher order of logic and understanding that originates in the heart. The heart is inclusive. It accepts. The intellect judges. The higher order of logic and understanding that originates in the heart comprehends nonlinear realities and simultaneous realms of truth./317-330, at 323, 324
Quantum physics is the pinnacle development of science. It leads us to the intellectual realization that consciousness is an aspect of physical reality, that the two can’t be separated. /317-330, at 327
Human history has been the sequential recording of one brutality after another. You will know in yourself that you are striving for authentic empowerment when a part of you decides that it will not participate any longer in this brutality, that your life will contribute something else to this human experience, and you find a way to do that in your day-to-day interactions. These will cumulatively form the course of your life./317-330, at 329
Jacquelyn Small is the the author of Becoming Naturally Therapeutic, Awakening in Time or The Sacred Purpose of Being Human.
Another of her books, the Transformers has become a classic. Small is the former Director of Training for the Texas Commission on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; and she served on the external degree faculty of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Menlo Park, California, for four years.
She currently sits on the Advisory Board for the National Council on Codependence. Her company, Eupsychia, Inc., is a healing and training center dedicated to bridging traditional and transformational psychologies.
Noted psychologist Jacquelyn Small helps us break the cycle of addictive behavior, destructive relationships and self-harm by teaching that we are not human beings learning to be spiritual, we are spiritual beings learning to be human. Jacquelyn Smalls 12 Principles of Wholeness, developed in her 30-year clinical practice, provide a one-year process of psychospiritual inner work. Blending ancient wisdom and modern science, this process has led client after client to the personal transformation of addictive living that precedes spiritual awakening. The readings, exercises and guided imageries in this book will help you access blocked emotions and modify the basic patterns buried within you that are holding unwanted behaviors in place. You will learn how to: Release stuck emotions through ‘inner work’ designed to heal your past. Identify pseudo-personalities that masquerade as your true self. Create the inner space required for a spiritual awakening to occur naturally.
Western psychology is based upon ego psychology. Unfortunately, even though the word psychology comes from the word ‘psyche’, which means ‘soul’, Western psychologists really have not been very knowledgeable of the fact. They have focused their attention upon the ego, which is like studying the shell of an egg and not looking inside to discover the essence of the chick./331-358, at 332
If you bring in a little Eastern thought about the energy centers called ‘chakras’, you will realize that each of us has seven different levels of consciousness that we are capable of experiencing while we, as consciousness, are in human form. Historically, ego psychology in the United States has studied the first three levels of consciousness—the physical body, emotions, and workings of the mind, which has been narrowed unfortunately to the intellect. What many psychologists don’t realize is that beyond body, emotions and mind we have yet another level of consciousness which you might think of as the heart./331-358, at 332
The seventh level of consciousness is where you begin to live your deepest truth and embrace your spiritual will. When people come into that stage of consciousness, they become ‘transformers.’ If they walk into a room full of other people, their very presence begins to cause energy shifts to occur. /331-358, at 332
The transformer is flowing through life, allowing you to be, and they don’t ever view you through judgmental eyes, as needing to be changed. The reformer is always trying to change you because they have already got a preconceived notion of what’s right. If you don’t live up to their ideal, they have a way to either punishing you, making you feel wrong, or pulling away from you. A transformer just doesn’t view you that way at all. They simply meet you in the moment and because they see you from the ‘Bigger Picture’, they know that you are a spirit in human form and that you’ve gotten caught in a condition, trapped in something that is scaring you, beating you up, or taking your energy./331-358, at 333
I see addiction as a way of being stuck in the past through repetitive, self-destructive behavior. /331-358, at 334
There are so many addictions—some are just more subtle than others. The chemical addictions are the easiest ones to spot. People even get addicted to their ideas and beliefs and become extremely unwilling to change their rigid and dysfunctional point of view. Sometimes I think those are the worst addictions of all because they block growth./331-358, at 335
Our intrinsic nature is spiritual. We are made of light particles. We have the ability, just as physics is showing us now, to manifest as both the particle, localized in time and space as the personality that we / know so well, and also as the wave function, which is our spiritual nature. The law of complimentarity rules us. I am an ego in concretized, physical form, but I also can evaporate and be spirit. But spirit is not a belief or dogma. It’s not religion. Spirit is an internal force that moves you toward the realization of your ideal. When we relax our ego-driven controls, we flow naturally toward what inspires us./331-358, at 335, 336
To be healthy individuals we just learn to honor our human nature and also honor the fact that we are spiritual beings and not try to be either/or. If I fall down in my consciousness and think I am just an ego, I get stuck in the muck. Every condition that I butt up against will start defining me— ‘I am a neurotic. I am a divorced woman. I am a basket case. I can’t get it right.’ All those things we say and do when we are in a lower state of consciousness. /331-358, at 336
I am sure you have met people like that. They are always pretending to be positive. Everything is just so full of love and light all the time, but you don’t feel as though you have touched a real person. And you have a little secret knowledge that if you ever did punch one of their buttons an overheated ‘shadow self’ would come out. And in fact, you can bet it does behind closed doors./331-358, at 336
Most of us are from dysfunctional families which means we’ve got some very core issues to deal with—with mom, with dad, with life, with self-image. / So our little earthy self is made up of an ego nature that takes on a ‘persona’ which means ‘mask’ in Greek. It tries to live according to society’s standards so that it won’t get in trouble. It is a very basic structure called ‘personality.’ When I call it ‘lower self’ I don’t really mean that it is ‘less than’ the Higher Self. It’s just closer to the earth, very susceptible to destruction. It’s concrete. /331-358, at 336, 337
We have seen what people are like who have no egos. They are in back wards of state hospitals. They can’t function in the world. The ego is living the earth life and it knows the ways of the outer world./331-358, at 337
We can operate in the world through the laws of materialism, of limitation, of separation, of sensation and of survival. We can live our lives locked into a sense of separateness and isolation, of only looking out for ourselves. We have that power. Unfortunately, some people do that without even knowing it./331-358, at 337
Once you have developed a strong ego and personality structure and have become identified with it, then you’ve got a foundation and the strength to go through the transformational process and experience more of your spiritual nature. And that transformational process is going to be chaotic at times because it’s a ‘death/rebirth’ process. If you don’t have a strong ego, you will not be able to make it. People can shatter into fragments and become mentally ill. /331-358, at 338
The soul wants to play, to dance, to experience life. It just is what it is. The soul lives totally in the moment. When it picks up a piece of paper, it starts to feel the texture of the paper and begins to get really into it. It gazes into a sunset, captivated by its beauty. It is totally caught up in whatever it is doing at the moment. And if you think about it, that’s the way we love to be in life more than anything else—totally and intensely involved. And when we are in that state of consciousness there is no sense of time. You might think you have been sitting somewhere ten minutes and it’s really been an hour. /331-358, at 338
The intellect is in between, and it serves as a bridge between our conscious and unconscious mind. It serves as a gatekeeper. The intellect will only let in so much soul power at once because the soul is light and it’s terrifying to an ego that’s not able to handle it. So our intellect serves as a filter and it will restrict our awareness to as much of reality as we can handle at any one time. The intellect is like a computer, very mechanical and always being programmed with information from what is already the past. /331-358, at 339
The intellect is always drawing its knowledge from the past. It’s like a little researcher and it makes a lot of mistakes because it is using that person’s perception which is going to be distorted if there is a lot of unfinished psychological business going on all the time./331-358, at 339
On the other hand the Higher Self mind, which operates from a very expanded state of consciousness, sees whole patterns. It thinks in terms of the whole, not the part. It might move in and dissect something for a minute, but it won’t get lost in it. It can pull back out and see the whole picture, putting all things in their proper perspective. In Eastern thought, it’s called ‘Big Mind’./331-358, at 340
When I was twenty-nine I had a clinical near-death experience. I was out of my body for a while, looking down upon it from above the hospital bed saying calmly to myself, ‘You don’t want to go back into that body, do you? That body has had it.’ But when my thoughts turned to my son who was eight years old at the time, I felt compelled to return. He didn’t know how to take care of himself. It was my compassion for my son that brought me back. Through this experience I had a wonderful opportunity to know that there is no such thing as the death of the individual. There are only shifts of consciousness to other states of being. In that next state beyond where I am now, my body dissipates and I just become space. Using the language of the new physics, I am dissolving my particle nature and I am moving into a wave function. I can dialogue with myself and with others, even when I am out of my body. /331-358, at 341
We have to continuously be stepping out of our old skin, ‘making dying our profession,’ if we are to grow. And right now, as one Humanity we’re stepping out of one big, huge, human soul skin and we are moving into a new dimension of consciousness. /331-358, at 341
If you allow the law of attraction to draw you, if you allow yourself to be pulled by your bliss rather than deciding from the intellect whom you should mate with, you will find that you are exactly with the partner you need to be with at the time. It may not need to be a marriage. It may just be a love affair. Or it may be a real close friendship or a business partnership. Sometimes we have to go through the trials of a relationship to find out what is our right relationship. Sometimes the role or label we put on a relationship misidentifies it./331-358, at 342
Your desire nature is always moving you towards fulfillment of your ideals. (…) But if your desires are distorted and begin moving you towards self-destructive, addictive and self-defeating behaviors and activities, then you’re going to mess up your energy for awhile which will really slow you down in your growth. Sometimes I think we deliberately choose something dysfunctional to slow us down or send us off course because we start moving too fast. Or because, for some reason, we need the lesson this dysfunction will provide. /331-358, at 342
If you make decisions based on greed, or want too much luxury, or put yourself into debt financially just so you can have a lot of goodies, then you are letting the lords of materialism become your god and rule you. That kind of life always leads to misery./331-358, at 343
I think it is very important to be in our bodies, and to be fully involved with life. To really be willing to commit to being here. (…) Attachment involves getting hooked on outcomes and expectations. It’s an ego thing. It is not a Higher Self state. If I have become attached—let’s say to my mate—in a jealous, possessive way and I feel as though I own him, look how I am going to behave. I am going to act in a way that is going to make me less than proud of my reactions. So attachment is the exact opposite of love. It’s paradoxical because we tend to think of attachment as meaning you are really close and intimate with someone. But attachment blocks intimacy. It blocks true intimacy./331-358, at 344
To use an analogy, the Higher Self is really more an artist than a scientist. It really doesn’t care if it is validated empirically. It just wants to express. It is full of life, full of creativity, full of joy. It is loving whatever is happening in the moment. Even if it is something ‘negative’, it can honor the fact that both positive and negative are part of life./331-358, at 344
The Higher Self, coming from our pattern of wholeness, tends to live from the ‘bigger picture.’ It possesses a creative imagination—meaning that its thoughts are creative—and it knows it. It takes responsibility for how it thinks. (…) It’s light, it’s energy, it’s vibration. It’s experienced through sound, color, music, movement, flow—those are all words that pertain to the Higher Self. The Higher Self is not ‘in-formed’, meaning it’s not in form. It’s energy. It is an energy matrix, or scaffold, that formulates matter into an individual. It is an archetype./331-358, at 345
I can literally start becoming a living representative of that Higher Power in my life. Then people start calling you teacher, or they say, ‘you are representing an archetype.’ You have to be careful. As you begin to attract people to you, which happens when you begin to express your Higher Self a lot, you have to know the responsibility that’s involved. You are more influential than you perhaps realize, so you have to be careful about the words you use and the things you do and be willing to take complete responsibility. /331-358, at 346
The minute that I start realizing that I am a soul in human form, everything changes and my soul consciousness comes alive in me. It always has been, but I just didn’t notice it before. Now I have noticed it; it is a conscious aspect of my experience. I begin to learn about the soul’s qualities—the soul just is quality actually. That’s the definition of the soul, it’s qualities such as inspiration, imagination, joy, celebration, light, play, spontaneity, deep compassion, hope, and faith. The soul is really not a thing, it is our essence, our ‘flavor.’ The soul desires to manifest here on the earth through our physical forms. Our souls are wanting to spiritualize matter. What that means in ordinary language, is that we are learning how to bring the good, the true and the beautiful through in all our relations and in all our activities. /331-358, at 347
I think we are shifting away from fear consciousness to consciousness of love and compassion. We are shifting from separatism to more of a unified wholeness. I think we are realizing now that we are not individual countries, that we are all living on one globe. Television and the media have helped us to realize that we just can’t separate off from each other as we’ve done in the past. And yet because we are both an ego and a soul, we also have a right to have a personal life. We have a right to our privacy. We have a right to make our own decisions and choices and to honor each others individual nature while at the same time recognizing our right relationships with each other as soul brothers and sisters. Ultimately, we’re all here for one reason and that is to bring spirit into the material world. And the only way we can bring spirit into the material world is by becoming it. /331-358, at 347
Our technology is running too far ahead of human consciousness. We have gotten so good at making machines, and yet our consciousness has not caught up with our abilities as technicians. (…) We are building machines and we are making better houses and we are learning how to till the soil better. But then all of a sudden this machine called materialism just starts outrunning everything. I think that just as we get to the place where we are just about to die, we come to the end of the cycle, the Higher Self moves in and begins to send us dreams and visions. /331-358, at 348
Most of us have a huge amount of control issues. We’ve been very well trained by mainstream society to try to be in control of everything and to have to let go of control is not such an easy thing to do. Essentially it’s about making the shift from thinking ‘you’ were living life to suddenly realizing life is living you! It’s a dedication to service./331-358, at 355
We’re not human beings trying to become spiritual. We’re spiritual beings learning how to be human. /331-358, at 355
When I go internal, I am able to live from ‘The Bigger Picture.’ In other words, I can see that my soul is here for a purpose and that I have taken on the form of an ego for awhile, living in the human condition. This gives my life a sacred meaning, and a deep sense of belonging./331-358, at 358
When you step onto the path of the inner unfolding life, you realize that there is no place to ever stop. You become the journey and you become the bridge. And you realize the journey is your home./331-358, at 358
Dr. Larry Dossey is the author of Space, Time and Medicine, Recovering the Soul and Healing Words which explores remissions of illness that are unexplained by the traditional paradigm of medicine. A physician of internal medicine, he served as battalion surgeon in Vietnam and was former Chief of Staff of Humana Medical City Dallas Hospital.
He lectures internationally and in 1988 was invited to deliver the annual Mahatma Gandhi Lecture in New Delhi, the only physician ever invited to do so.
Dr. Dossey is co-chair of the Panel on Mind/Body Interventions, National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Larry Dossey
Now, there is overwhelming evidence that if you take prayer into the laboratory and subject it to testing, you can show that it works. So, that’s the big news. This information has been marginalized and it is practically unknown, even to physicians. It is not taught in medical schools. But it’s out there. /124-135, at 127
My primary interest is not the practical applications of prayer to make diseases go away. It’s really the larger message about who we are, and what our origins and destiny may be. How consciousness manifests in the world. Those are the real issues that go far beyond whether you can use prayer to bail yourself out of a difficult situation or illness. /124-135, at 127
The prevailing notion that prayer is asking for something—basically talking out loud to a cosmic male parent figure who prefers English—either for yourself or somebody else is woefully incomplete. I want to get away from that common way of looking at prayer. Prayer for me is any psychological act which brings us closer to the transcendent. It’s not the territory of any specific religion./124-135, at 127
Love is a felt quality that can change the state of the physical world. We are beyond metaphor and poetry here. We are talking about something that literally can make a difference in outcomes in the world. /124-135, at 128
The materialists cannot account for non-local events. There is currently nothing within the field of biological science that can explain distant, non-local, consciousness-related events. /124-135, at 128
The problem is, the skeptics and the materialists won’t look at non-local data at the level of biology and psychology. They will grant you that non-local phenomena occur at the quantum level—the level of the very small, such as atoms and subatomic particles. That has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But the notion that these things can happen at the level of the psyche and at the level of biology is just not being entertained./124-135, at 128
These non-local manifestations of consciousness—among which prayer is one type—display characteristics that are not displayed by any known form of energy. For example, prayer, transpersonal imagery effects, and so on, are not a function of the amount of distance a person is from their target. These activities are just as effective when done on the other side of the earth as when they are done close up. /124-135, at 128
The reason that many of the dedicated materialistic scientists are so infuriated over the mere discussion of prayer and distant healing, is that it really begins to call into question their world view. It calls into question the adequacy of materialistic science, upon which these people have staked their careers, self-identity and self-esteem. And when you begin to question somebody’s world view, that’s more inflammatory than making derogatory comments about their mother. It generates tremendous animosity and really draws a line in the sand. If the data is right, then the materialist’s model of the universe is inadequate. It’s down to that. That’s why you see people libeling and slandering other people over these issues in the scientific journals./124-135, at 129
Right after I began to attract the attention of cynics, materialists and skeptics in medicine, I pulled a book off my shelf called Garrison’s History of Medicine, written in 1929. It’s one of my favorite books. I went back and looked at the way the great medical authorities of the day treated Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was among the first to suggest hand-washing. He was vilified for proposing the silly idea that washing your hands could cut down on the incidence of infections and death following childbirth, in spite of the fact that there was supportive scientific data which had been collected from the hospital. It showed that the practice of physician hand-washing tremendously lowered the death rate following childbirth. The data was in, yet in spite of that, this man was unbelievably hounded by other leading orthodox obstetricians./124-135, at 130
Physicist Max Planck, commenting about the controversy surrounding quantum physics around the turn of the century said that, science changes funeral by funeral. That’s a clever way of stating that some people are never going to change their mind. /124-135, at 131
You can get a feeling for the profound changes taking place within medicine by looking at Dr. David Eisenburg’s 1992 Harvard survey which found that over 60 million Americans went to alternative therapists that year—one-third of the adult population. That sounds like a huge shift to me. /124-135, at 131
I think that a lot of people in this culture have been deeply brutalized by the false assumption that there are only two ways you can live a life and you have to choose one or the other. You can choose to be intellectual, rational and scientific on one hand, or on the other, you can live your life intuitively, spiritually. It’s being either the scientist or the artist or mystic and there is no way to get those two abilities together in your life. This schizophrenic assumption has caused immense suffering for people in this culture and I think that’s a false divide. If you look at the implications of these prayer studies for example, where you can show under laboratory controlled conditions that things like empathy, compassion, love, and caring can make a difference, and that there is some aspect of the psyche that is eternal, non-local, immortal – spiritual if you will – the fact that we can show that scientifically suggests that this great divide between science, religion and spirituality is false./124-135, at 133
Healing is a word that is particularly forbidden in medical schools and hospitals. You don’t talk about healing. You talk about the mechanics of medicine. /124-135, at 133
Peter Russell graduated with first class honors in theoretical physics and experimental psychology at the University of Cambridge (England).
He has been a business consultant for fifteen years to international corporations such as Apple Computers, Shell, BASF, American Express and BP. He produced a series on meditation for BBC Radio 4, and is the author of seven books, including The Global Brain Awakens, which explores the psychological dimensions of the global crisis and The White Hole In Time.
At this unprecedented moment in history, when escalating crises threaten all life on earth, internationally renowned physicist-futurist Peter Russell weaves together the physical and social sciences, modern technology and ancient mysticism to demonstrate that the possibility of global illumination is now as real-and as imminent-as the threat of mass annihilation.
In this updated edition of The Global Brain Awakens, Russell details an extraordinary new vision of humanity’s potential as a fully conscious super organism in an awakening universe. Presenting evidence that the earth itself is a living being and every person upon it a cell in the planetary nervous system, Russell describes how breakthroughs in telecommunications and computer networks are rapidly linking the human species into an embryonic global brain.
At the same time, the human potential movement is growing faster than any other segment of society, and influencing every aspect of the culture-including business, politics and medicine. Russell shows how the convergence of these powerful trends is creating the required conditions for an evolutionary shift in consciousness from egocentrism to geo-centrism.
First published in 1983 as The Global Brain and translated into ten languages, Russell’s seminal work won acclaim from forward thinkers all over the world. Regarded by many as years ahead of its time, its original predictions about the impact of computer networks and changing social values were quickly fulfilled.
Consciousness is used in many different ways. You can talk about consciousness in the context of whether you’re awake or asleep, or in terms of social consciousness, which involves one’s value system. (…) I tend to look at the current times from a different perspective. As human beings, we are experiencing the most significant era of change in this planet’s history—not just in human history but probably in the history of this planet. Never before has a species arisen which has so much creativity and so much intelligence but also so much destructive capability, which has shown itself through such / things as the environmental crisis. In my view, we are really being pushed to work inwardly and to go through an evolutionary process. If we don’t, I doubt we’ll survive much longer. We’ve come to this point in history where we have to learn how to use our powers of creativity and our intelligence in ways that do not threaten our own future, nor the future of the rest of this planet. I think many people are looking at the ecological crisis as signaling the need for people to change their thinking and to change their values. /359-373, at 359, 360
If you look at what’s happening in the world, you will find that now, we’re all becoming interconnected. The linking together of humanity, which began when the emergence of language allowed us to share information with each other, has now reached a global level. We are sharing information through television, through print, through video, through computer networks. We are beginning to function as a single information system./359-373, at 364
Science fiction writers of thirty or forty years ago had no idea of what was going to happen to computers and information processing. Most science fiction writers were talking about huge computers. They didn’t see the advent of the small, portable personal computer, the lap-top computer which could be networked with other computers. In the same way, very few people can foresee the incredible speed of change and awakening that is possible on the level of consciousness, once things start taking off./359-373, at 364
If a system is sent into a chaotic, disordered state, it can—though not every time—reorganize itself into a higher state of organization and capability. On the global level we are going through chaos. We are seeing breakdowns of economic systems, and the turning around of some of the political systems in Eastern Europe. It appears to be the breaking down, but it’s also a field in which new levels of organization could emerge. They haven’t emerged yet, but the time is ripe for something new to happen./359-373, at 365
One thousand years ago, you could probably predict the next hundred years. One hundred years ago, we could probably predict the following twenty to thirty years. Today, we really can’t predict more than a few months ahead in many areas. What I call the ‘prediction horizon’ is getting closer and closer and closer, so we are certainly moving into a much more unpredictable world. But within that unpredictability, there is so much potential for change. I think we’re in the most exciting time in human history. In our own lifetimes we are going to see as much development, and as much evolution, as perhaps the whole of humanity has witnessed over the last 5000 years./359-373, at 365
We now have—interestingly enough—about the same number of people living on the planet as there are nerve cells in the human brain. We are now entering this process of connectivity. We aren’t yet as interconnected as the nerve cells in the brain and we only communicate with one or two people at a time, but I think the way our technology is going, over the next ten, twenty or thirty years, that connectivity will probably rival that of the human brain. When that happens, I think we are in for a major transformation on a global level. /359-373, at 366
The word ‘synergy’ comes from the Greek—syn and ergos— literally meaning to ‘act together.’ In a high synergy system, the individual units—whether they be people in a society or nerve cells in a brain—while acting in their own interest, are also acting for the good of the whole system. It’s an alignment between individual interests and group interests. /359-373, at 366
Many of us compromise our individuality. We don’t really express ourselves. We don’t live our own truths. We tend to live the truths that the media tell us. We live the truths that the fashion houses tell us. So we wear the latest fashions, do the right things, go to the ‘in’ places. Not because, ‘that’s who I am’ but because we want to belong to the right group. We want to be seen to be part of the system. As we begin to wake up, we also become more open to other people—more compassionate, more loving towards other people, more able to interconnect with other people. At the same time that’s happening, we also gain a greater inner strength to actually be ourselves, to express our own truths./359-373, at 368
The change in world view that I think needs to come, is a shift in values of what we consider to be important. That comes back to a fundamental belief about how we find the peace that we’re looking for in the world. It could come from reading books, but I think they would be books of a more spiritual nature. If one goes back and reads some of the old classic spiritual teachings, one finds the same basic message about letting go of attachments, letting go of our beliefs about how to find happiness and beginning to recognize that whether or not we’re at peace is not a question of what we have or do, but is a question of how we see things./359-373, at 369
The critical decision rests upon how we perceive the world. In each of our lives, in every single moment, and regardless of whatever is happening to us, we have the opportunity to either see this as a threat or as an opportunity: an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, an opportunity to develop our consciousness in some way or other, an opportunity to grow. Part of the shift entails putting this into practice in our own lives so that at every moment of the day we begin to make that choice. Instead of seeing things through the eyes of fear, the eyes of anxiety, the eyes of separation, we begin to see that we are actually in control of our lives. We are in control of how we see things and we begin to exercise that control and learn to use what is happening in the world for our own inner growth and development. /359-373, at 370
Consciousness is something completely nonmaterial and totally indefinable by modern science and yet it is something common to all of us./359-373, at 370
The meta-paradigm of Western society suggests that the material world is real, and that consciousness and mind are somehow offshoots of material reality. (…) I think the new meta-paradigm that is beginning to emerge is saying that consciousness is primary to the universe. In some sense, matter is created in our consciousness, we are the creators of our experience of reality./359-373, at 371
It was my meditation experience in India that made me realize that consciousness is primary, and matter is something we create in our awareness. That’s not to say matter doesn’t exist out there somewhere, but every time I experience it I am re-creating a version of it for me in my mind./359-373, at 372
I think on a more global level, the shift is going to happen as the anomalies build up, as we begin to realize that consciousness cannot be excluded from our understanding of the world as has been suggested by modern physics. As we begin to realize the world doesn’t work without including consciousness, that consciousness is primary. Then I think the shift in world views will happen./359-373, at 372
Peter Senge is Director of the Systems Thinking and Organizational Learning Program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and a founding partner of Innovation Associates in Framingham, Massachusetts. He has introduced thousands of managers at Ford, Digital, Apple and other major corporations to the disciplines of the learning organization through seminars. He is the author of the book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.
Peter Senge, founder of the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, experienced an epiphany while meditating one morning back in the fall of 1987. That was the day he first saw the possibilities of a ‘learning organization’ that used ‘systems thinking’ as the primary tenet of a revolutionary management philosophy.
He advanced the concept into this primer, originally released in 1990, written for those interested in integrating his philosophy into their corporate culture.
The Fifth Discipline has turned many readers into true believers; it remains the ideal introduction to Senge’s carefully integrated corporate framework, which is structured around ‘personal mastery,’ ‘mental models,’ ‘shared vision,’ and ‘team learning.’ Using ideas that originate in fields from science to spirituality, Senge explains why the learning organization matters, provides an unvarnished summary of his management principals, offers some basic tools for practicing it, and shows what it’s like to operate under this system. The book’s concepts remain stimulating and relevant as ever.
The difference between a child at the age of one, two, or three, learning to walk, learning to read, learning all the incredible stuff that kids learn, and that same person at the age of ten or twelve learning grammar because they have to, is the basic difference between aspiration and fear./206-219, at 207
The first principle of real learning is that learners learn what the learner wants to learn./206-219, at 208
This whole idea of tapping the capacity of human beings in an organization to learn because they really want to, not because they have to, is the key for two reasons. Reason one: if people were really learning what they wanted to learn, they would be enthused and excited about what they were doing. The other reason is the key from an organizational standpoint. Learning based on desperation or fear is always going to be episodic in nature. In other words, people will learn as long as they have to, as long as there is a threat that they have to respond to. As soon as that threat goes away, the learning will stop. So you will get episodes of learning and change./206-219, at 208
The Japanese are very, very good at continual learning. It’s part of their culture; part of the very way they manage. For most Westerners, learning is what happened to us in school and when we grow up, we work. We’re not learning anymore. So with that kind of mind-set, we tend to only learn when there is a crisis that compels us to learn. That’s a very important, practical difference between learning that’s based on aspiration versus desperation./206-219, at 208
The second core capability of a learning organization would be the ability to have reflective conversation in organizations. (…) Much important work gets done through conversation. Decisions are made through conversations; decisions are implemented through conversations—people talking to one another. Most conversations are marginally productive; often they are counterproductive. People come in with different views and they end up polarizing and having a debate rather than a conversation. It’s usually not even a very good debate. What people really have in mind remains unsaid. They’re afraid that if they expressed their true thoughts, things would get worse, not better./206-219, at 208, 209
In productive conversations people become more aware of the assumptions they hold, the very basis of why one sees things the way they do. It’s important to realize how relative these assumptions are. Nobody carries God’s truth in their head. We carry views, opinions, interpretations—things that are a product of our life experience. They’re very idiosyncratic to us; they’re not absolute. Yet we treat them as if they are absolute./206-219, at 209
One of the reason that shared visions don’t exist and why we can’t tap collective aspiration is because we don’t know how to manage the communication process whereby individual visions can be articulated and can interact so that, over time, people can truly start to feel a part of something larger than their own individual vision, a part of a really shared vision. /206-219, at 209
By the time many managers rise to any kind of a position of authority, they are usually extremely good at advocating their views and getting others to ‘buy in.’ In fact, what’s really needed is not just the advocacy of my views but an inquiry into my views and the views of the other people. There needs to be a balance of advocacy and inquiry. It’s almost completely absent in most large organizations. /206-219, at 209
We have no idea of the process of going from A to B. We tend to see problems as isolated from one another. If I’m in manufacturing, I see a manufacturing problem. If I’m in research, I see a research problem. If I’m in product development, I see a problem development problem. I treat these separately when, in fact, often they are highly interdependent./206-219, at 210
If you’re building an automobile, you have 12 or 13 major engineering sub-specialties. Each of those specialists is off solving their own isolated problems, but in fact they have to produce one car. The success of the car actually doesn’t depend on having the best transmission system and the best drive train and the best steering. You can put all the best parts together and you won’t necessarily get the best car. What makes the best car is the way all the parts fit together. /206-219, at 210
So, life is integrative. Whenever we’re trying to produce something, we’re producing something that has to work as a whole, but our patterns of thought and our ways of identifying and solving problems are highly fragmented. In our culture, being an ‘expert’ literally means knowing a lot about a little. So the whole notion of expertise is very counterproductive to being effective in organizations because organizations have to produce something that is integrated./206-219, at 210
Customers have real needs and real problems—they don’t care about 13 different features that you have, each of which is world class. They really care about how it all comes together into an integrated product or integrated service. /206-219, at 210
So the third capability has to do with the ability to deal with complexity, to deal with high degrees of interrelatedness and processes which are far from static. They are dynamic, changing over time. It involves systems thinking./206-219, at 211
In the West, we tend to think of knowledge as something that we have in our heads. We actually don’t make any rigorous distinction between knowledge and information. We treat knowledge as a little more important than information. /206-219, at 211
You know something about human relationships when you have some capacity to produce meaningful relationships. It’s not something you’ve read about in a book. You have some capacity to work with other people, particularly those whose ideas, emotions, backgrounds and previous experiences might be very different than yours./206-219, at 211
Real learning is learner directed; it involves self-assessment. In school, we learn that what’s most important is what the teacher says, not what we say about how well we are doing. It’s ironic: for the rest of our lives, we’re / not going to have a teacher around to tell us how we’re doing. Yet most kids do not develop any capability for objective self-assessment, which is absolutely critical for lifelong learning. And so we have a lot of very strange and I would say, counterproductive, notions about learning in the West./206-219, at 211, 212
In Eastern cultures, it’s typical for people to think of learning as something that’s actually in the body, not just in the head. When you say, ‘I know’, in most Eastern languages such as Chinese and Japanese, you literally are saying it from the center of your body—‘I know it; it’s in me’. In the West, we tend to think of it as in our heads. This is a part of the dualistic Western philosophy that makes its presence felt in so many different areas. There is a real disconnect in our thinking about learning between the head and the hand, between our intellectual knowledge and our capacity for action. It actually is deeply rooted culturally./206-219, at 212
In many traditional European cultures, there was a very rigorous, rigid cultural distinction between the people who worked with their hands and the people who did not have to work with their hands. It’s always sobering to remember that Michelangelo could not have dinner with his patrons because the artisans occupied a different social class because they worked with their hands. That fragmentation is very deeply imbedded in Western culture and it’s very relevant to these questions of learning and what we mean by knowledge. We have a lot of executives sitting around in corporate suites who really think that, ‘We come up with the big ideas here, right?’, ‘We create strategy’. Think about the parallel to this: ‘We create the strategy—you guys have to implement it!’ And, of course, what’s one of the biggest problems facing domestic organizations! They can’t implement strategy. The reason they can’t implement strategy is because their entire way of thinking about it is so deeply fragmented. Our notion is that the top of the organization thinks and that the people at the local level, in the guts of the organization so to speak, take action./206-219, at 212
The Japanese think of strategy as something that emerges throughout the whole organization. A lot of the best strategic ideas come from the front lines, and conversely, the people at the top should be spending their life involved at all levels of the organization. If you go to Honda’s corporate headquarters, you will never find any executives there./206-219, at 212
So, you see, this whole separation of head and hand, of intellect and action, of corporate management and local actors, is really a Western product. It’s very much a product of our culture and our heritage, and it represents a huge problem when it comes to learning because real learning, is by its nature, integrative. Real learning integrates new ideas, new insights and new actions. If there is no change in behavior, there’s no learning. But also, if there’s no change in understanding, there’s no learning either. There has to be both./206-219, at 213
There’s a famous library in Oxford, England, that has an ancient, circular courtyard with 12 or 13 different doorways leading in. Over each doorway is printed ‘Geology’, ‘Physics’, ‘Biology’, ‘Literature’, etc. It is a wonderful symbol of our theory of knowledge in the West. You enter through each of those doors and you leave the knowledge contained behind the other doors. So, the whole notion that knowledge could be a more integrated activity is really lost in the West. It’s a profound problem and so is this deep, cultural tendency towards fragmentation—the breaking up of wholes into pieces. /206-219, at 214
There is a profound need to develop integrative disciplines in the sciences. What we have today is an enormous tendency towards educating people in very narrow ways. Occasionally, someone comes along who, just by the sake of their own brilliance, is integrative—they cut across different disciplines and we consider those people real geniuses. Well, I don’t know if they’re real geniuses or they’re just real contrarians. They somehow manage to resist the temptation to fragment knowledge. /206-219, at 214
We tend to think of ourselves as things isolated from one another. If you take seriously the notion of the primacy of wholes, then you arrive at an entirely different view. You seen an individual as the reflection of a community; a strand in a web of interrelationships. /206-219, at 215
Dr. Stanislav Grof , M.D., Ph.D. is a psychiatrist with over thirty-seven years of research experience in non-ordinary states of consciousness.
Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Dr. Grof, along with Abraham Maslow is considered a primary founder and theoretician of transpersonal psychology.
He’s the author of Psychology of the Future, Spiritual Emergency, LSD Psychotherapy, Realms of the Human Unconscious, Beyond the Brain, Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution and co-author, with his wife Christina, of The Stormy Search for The Self.
From the Back Cover
This accessible and comprehensive overview of the work of Stanislav Grof, one of the founders of transpersonal psychology, was specifically written to acquaint newcomers with his work. Serving as a summation of his career and previous works, this entirely new book is the source to introduce Grof’s enormous contributions to the fields of psychiatry and psychology, especially his central concept of holotropic experience, where holotropic signifies ‘moving toward wholeness.’
Grof maintains that the current basic assumptions and concepts of psychology and psychiatry require a radical revision based on the intensive and systematic research of holotropic experience. He suggests that a radical inner transformation of humanity and a rise to a higher level of consciousness might be humankind’s only real hope for the future.
This book is by a pioneering genius in consciousness research. It presents the full spectrum of Grof’s ideas, from his earliest mappings of using LSD psychotherapy, to his clinical work with people facing death, to his more recent work with holotropic breathing, to his latest thoughts about the cosmological implications of consciousness research and the prospects for dealing with an emerging planetary crisis.
Grof has always been one of the most original thinkers in the transpersonal field, and his creativity has kept pace with the maturity of his overall vision.
Non-ordinary states of consciousness are certainly a unique source of profound insights into the deepest recesses of the human psyche. In my opinion their potential significance for psychiatry is comparable to the importance of the microscope for medicine or the telescope for astronomy. It is hard to believe that this area has been largely ignored by traditional psychiatrists and psychologists./98-109, at 98
The attitude of Western psychiatry that sees mental health as simply the absence of symptoms certainly has to be radically revised. (…) In the alternative system of medicine known as homeopathy, the symptoms are seen as expressions of healing, not the disease. Therapy in homeopathy consists of a temporary intensification of the symptoms to achieve wholeness. This approach results in profound healing and positive personality transformation rather than the impoverishment of vitality and functioning that accompanies the suppression of symptoms through the use of prescribed drugs. The emphasis on constructive working with symptoms instead of their routine suppression is the first major difference between the strategies based on modern consciousness research and those used in mainstream psychiatry. /98-109, at 99
Mainstream psychiatry is based upon the Cartesian-Newtonian materialistic world view which maintains that the history of the universe is basically the history of developing matter. The only thing that really exists is matter and life; consciousness, and intelligence are its accidental and insignificant side-products. In this kind of world view, there is no place for spirituality. To be spiritual means to be uneducated, unacquainted with modern scientific discoveries about the nature of the Universe. It means to be involved in superstition, in primitive, or magical thinking. Traditional psychoanalysis explains spirituality as a regression, as a fixation on the infantile stage—a step backwards in development rather than a step forward. In this context, the concept of God is interpreted as the projection of your infantile image of your father in the sky. Interest in religious ritual is seen as analogous to obsessive-compulsive behavior of a neurotic and explained as a regression to the anal stage of libidinal development. /98-109, at 100
And here lies the fundamental difference between traditional psychiatry and transpersonal psychology which considers spirituality to be an intrinsic dimension of the human psyche and a critical factor in the universal scheme of things. This conclusion is not some kind of irrational belief or a speculative metaphysical assumption. It is based on systematic study of non-ordinary states of consciousness in which we can have direct experiences of the spiritual dimensions. These experiences fall into two distinct categories. In the first one are experiences of the Immanent Divine; they involve direct perception of unity underlying the world of separation and a realization that what we experience as material reality is actually the manifestation of creative cosmic energy. The second category includes experiences of the Transcendental Divine; here we perceive dimensions of reality that are normally hidden to our senses, such as visions of deities, or archetypal figures as C.G. Jung would call them, and of various mythological domains./98-109, at 100
Traditional psychology and psychiatry have a model of the psyche that is limited to the body and more specifically the brain, which is / seen as the source of consciousness. It also confines itself to postnatal biography, which means to the history of the individual after he or she was born. It tries to explain all psychological processes in terms of the events which took place in infancy and in childhood. In addition, we also have the Freudian individual unconscious, which is basically a derivative of our life experiences. It is a kind of ‘psychological junkyard’ that harbors various unacceptable tendencies that have been repressed./98-109, at 101
The perinatal level has as its core the record of traumatic experiences associated with biological birth. The memories of the emotions and physical feelings that we experienced during our delivery are often represented here in photographic detail. However, the perinatal level also functions as a kind of gateway into the next domain of the psyche, the transpersonal. (…) Thus people who reexperience the stage of birth where they were stuck in the womb before the cervix opened, might identify with different people throughout history who were in a prison, or who were abused and tortured, such as the victims of the Inquisition and people who were in Nazi concentration camps. Similarly, the reliving of the desperate struggle to free oneself from the clutches of the birth canal after the cervix dilated can be associated with images of revolutions and with experiential identification with freedom fighters of all ages./98-109, at 101
In other words, the insights that people get into the nature of the cosmos in non-ordinary states are in fundamental conflict with the old, Cartesian-Newtonian world view, but are very similar in nature to descriptions that we find in quantum-relativistic physics and other avenues of the new paradigm./98-109, at 103
In non-ordinary states, the material world is experienced as a dynamic process where there are no solid structures and everything is a flow of energy. Everything is perceived as patterns of energy and behind patterns of energy there are patterns of experience. Reality appears to be the result of an incredibly precise orchestration of experiences and the observer plays a very important role in the creation of the universe./98-109, at 104
There exists substantial evidence that consciousness is not a by-product of matter, an epiphenomenon of the neurophysiological processes in our brain, but a primary attribute of existence./98-109, at 104
In the course of this century, quantum-relativistic physics has seriously undermined the belief in the tangible and unambiguous nature of our material reality. It has thrown a new light on the ancient Buddhist idea that form is emptiness and emptiness is form. In the subatomic analysis, matter in the usual sense of the word, disappears and what remains is pattern, relation, mathematical order—elements which we would certainly associate with consciousness rather than matter./98-109, at 105
Traditional science claims in a very authoritarian way that the material universe which we experience through our five senses, is the only existing reality. And if we experience other realities, such as historical or archetypal elements of the collective unconscious, these are seen as illusory experiences derived from the perceptions and memories of this world. In other words, transpersonal experiences are fantasies or hallucinations. This position is presented as an evident scientific fact that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt, but a closer examination clearly shows that it is an unfounded metaphysical assumption. Modern consciousness research actually has brought ample evidence that there are other experiential dimensions of reality with specific and demonstrable characteristics. To borrow an analogy from electronics, material reality is just one ‘holographic cosmic channel’. There are other ‘channels’ that are equally real or unreal as this one./98-109, at 105
Robert Monroe has developed some very effective means of inducing non-ordinary states of consciousness, with special emphasis on those that are conducive to out-of-body experiences. In non-ordinary states, the sharp difference between what is ‘real’ and what is ‘unreal’ tends to disappear. Our ordinary material world appears less real and the world of the archetypal beings and other aspects of the transpersonal world become very convincing and believable. Careful study reveals that they are more than fantasies or hallucinations. Once we realize that in both instances we are dealing with ‘virtual realities,’ the distinction between what is ‘real’ and what is derived becomes rather arbitrary./98-109, at 105
The traditional point of view of Western materialistic science is that we are Newtonian objects, made up of atoms, molecules, cells, tissues and organs, that we are highly developed animals and biological thinking machines. If we seriously consider all the data amassed in the last few decades by modern consciousness research, we discover that this point of view is incorrect, or at least incomplete. It is just one partial aspect of a much more complex picture. It can be maintained only when we suppress all the evidence from parapsychology and the study of non-ordinary states of consciousness, such as mystical, psychedelic, and near-death experiences, or trance phenomena and meditation. In all these situations, we can also function as fields of consciousness which can transcend space, time, and linear causality. /98-109, at 106
Quantum-relativistic physicists have a definition of subatomic matter and also of light that combines in a paradoxical fashion two seemingly incompatible aspects of these phenomena. This is the wave-particle paradox described by Niels Bohr’s principle of complementarity. To understand the nature of subatomic matter or light, you have to accept that they are phenomena which can have characteristics of both particles and waves. These are two complementary aspects of the same phenomena and each of them manifests under different circumstances. We are now discovering that something similar applies to human beings. We are Newtonian objects, highly developed biological thinking machines, but we are also infinite fields of consciousness that transcend time, space, and linear causality. These are two complementary aspects of who we are and each of them manifest under different circumstances, the first in the ordinary state of consciousness, the other when we enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. /98-109, at 106
The most important thing to realize that traditional psychology and psychiatry do not make a distinction between a mystical experience and a psychotic experience. From a traditional point of view, all forms of non-ordinary states of consciousness—with the exception of dreams where there is a certain tolerance—would be interpreted as pathological phenomena. Strictly speaking, Western psychiatry has pathologized the entire history of spirituality. /98-109, at 106
We actually have many psychiatric articles and books that discuss which psychiatric diagnosis would be most appropriate for the founders of various religions, their prophets, and saints. Franz Alexander, a famous psychoanalyst and founder of psychosomatic medicine, even wrote a paper entitled Buddhist Meditation as an Artificial Catatonia, putting spiritual practice into a pathological context. Similarly, anthropologists argue whether shamans should be viewed as hysterics, epileptics, schizophrenics, or maybe ambulant psychotics. Many people who have transpersonal experiences are automatically treated as psychotics, people suffering from a mental disease, because psychiatrists do not make a distinction between a mystical experience and a psychotic experience./98-109, at 107
The concept of spiritual emergency suggests that many episodes of / non-ordinary states of consciousness that are currently diagnosed as psychoses and treated by suppressive medication are actually crises of transformation and spiritual opening. Instead of routine suppression through drugs, we should give these people support and guidance to help them through these experiences. When properly understood and properly guided, these states can result in emotional and psychosomatic healing and positive personality transformation. /98-109, at 108
If you look back at human history, you will find that many people have invested enormous amounts of energy in the spiritual quest. They have also made tremendous sacrifices for this purpose—the sacrifice of material possessions, professional careers, as well as of personal and sexual life. In transpersonal psychology, the impulse toward spirituality is viewed as a very natural and very powerful drive in human beings. In Western culture, we have lost all socially sanctioned contexts in which people can experience non-ordinary states of consciousness and have spiritual experiences. Our attitude toward spirituality is certainly peculiar. There is a bible in every motel room and even leading politicians pay lip service to God; but if a person would have a powerful spiritual experience in the church, an average minister would send them to a psychiatrist./98-109, at 108
Experiential contact with the archetypal domain in and of itself is not necessarily beneficial. It is possible to get inflated by identifying with an archetype, and it can leave you in a state of grandiosity. For example, some people who experience identification with Jesus Christ, which is a very common experience in non-ordinary states, can end up believing that they are actually the historical Jesus. Another common pitfall is to experience one’s own divinity (in the sense of the Tat tvam asi of the Upanishads) and attaching this insight to one’s body ego (I am God and that makes me special). /98-109, at 109