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#2146 - Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz
This issue features a collection of statements from scientists on the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!?. They point out the movie's flaws, gaps, and flakiness. The strength of the movie lies in its ability to help the mind release its grip a little. Its grip on anything. If the mind grips something else, such as positive thinking, the implications of quantum mechanics, or J.Z. Knight's videos, then the movie is another contribution to the world of spiritual fashion. Pseudo-science, the article implies, is one tool used to forge spiritual fashion.
The next article is by Rob Rabbin who introduces a new website on spiritual activism: "The core audience for Radical Sages" Rabbin continued, "are those who want to expand their awareness and develop their spiritual connection to others and life without losing touch with the world around them. We don't identify ourselves with labels like Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative; we align ourselves with those principles of living that reflect the highest expression of our common humanity. Radical Sages is not a revolution of ideology but an evolution of spiritual action."
Bearing on the activism theme, Ray Morose confesses an understanding of spiritual impoverishment: "If ever in doubt about the correctness of governmental or corporate policy, simply place it within the filter of 'how does it affect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable amongst us'. And 'amongst us' means everyone in the world, as like it or not humans are one large family. That filter will normally separate the truth from the counterfeit. The counterfeit is usually couched in slick evasive doublespeak; to justify profits, or prevent their loss, and their focus stops there."
May 17, 2005 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1615477,00.html
Scientists mock New Age film as a lot of bleeping nonsense By Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent
IT IS one of the unlikeliest hits in cinematic history: a
documentary exploring the weird world of
quantum physics that confounded its subject matter to spend three months as one of Americas 25
highest grossing films.
What the Bleep Do We Know!?, which opens in Britain on
Thursday, is poised to overtake Super Size
Me as the most successful non-fiction film not made by Michael Moore. Fans of its New Age message
linking science and spirituality include Madonna and Drew Barrymore.
It also has been ridiculed by physicists and psychiatrists,
who say that it hijacks science to
promote dubious and even dangerous misconceptions about the nature of the Universe.
Simon Singh, the physicist, science broadcaster and author of
Big Bang, said that he despised the
film for twisting science to suit an agenda. It claims to be about quantum physics, but it makes
gross distortions that would make any self-respecting scientist squirm, he said.
Professor Raj Persaud, a consultant psychiatrist at the
Maudsley Hospital in London, said that he
was alarmed at one of its central suggestions: that positive thinking can replace medical treatment
for disease. That is a very dangerous message, he said.
The film tells the story of Amanda, a deaf photographer played
by Marlee Matlin, an Oscar-winning
actress, who is depressed after a marital break-up. She gradually overcomes her anxiety through a
series of bizarre encounters that prompt her to question her ideas about reality. Her spiritual
journey, which ends with Amanda throwing away her medication in favour of positive thinking and
drawing love hearts on her body with mascara, is interspersed with a commentary from
serious-sounding academics and mystics.
These experts explain some of the odd ideas of quantum
mechanics such as particles existing in
two places at once and claim that these show perceptions of the physical world to be subjective
and provide a scientific underpinning for personal spirituality.
In one sequence, Amanda views photographs of water crystals
allegedly altered by messages taped to
their bottles. Phrases such as thank you and love produce beautiful patterns, but You make me
sick, I want to kill you generates an evil-looking mess. A bystander then supplies the films key
message: If thoughts can do this to water, what can thoughts do to us?
Only at the end of the film are the identities of the talking
heads revealed. One is John Hagelin,
a perennial presidential candidate from the Natural Law Party. Another is J. Z. Knight, who claims
to be channelling a mystic known as Ramtha, who died 35,000 years ago in Atlantis. The most
authoritative physicist in the film, Professor David Albert, of Columbia University, has since
distanced himself from it, saying that he spent five hours explaining to the film-makers why their
ideas were wrong.
British scientists who watched a screening yesterday said that
What the Bleep Do We Know!? is
misleading and potentially damaging. Several passages such as the altered water provoked them
to laugh at its implausibility.
Professor Persaud said: Its an attempt to hijack
science. Its obvious flaw is a complete absence
of data. I am particularly concerned about the scene when the lead character throws away her
medicine. This New Age idea that you can throw away your medication and think yourself better
is a very dangerous message.
Paul Stephenson, a physicist at the University of Surrey,
said: The film is quite a lot of fun,
but it is a mix of believable and unbelievable science and it would be easy for someone to pick up
the wrong ideas.
Tim Evans, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London,
said: This film is dangerous
because it exploits peoples genuine desire to understand the big questions then gives the answers
the veneer of science.
Jim Al-Khalili, a physicist at the University of Surrey, said:
It will get people thinking about
quantum mechanics, and then theyll find out that a lot of this is a load of rubbish.
AN EVOLUTION OF SPIRITUAL ACTION
Robert Rabbin Launches Web Site For Radical Sages.
San Francisco, CA: San Francisco-based writer, speaker, and life-long mystic Robert Rabbin has just launched Radical Sages, a web site for an emerging group of boomer-generation spiritual seekers who are forsaking the mountain tops of transcendence for the urban streets of social and political activism. The mission of Radical Sages is to inform, inspire, and mobilize this global community into a unified force for social renewal and political reform. The Radical Sages web site is a unique combination of newswire, action center, and resource library - a hub of engagement for spiritual seekers and a refuge of inspiration for hardened activists.
It is also a social movement, the heart of which is the recognition that "inner spiritual work and transformational social action are as inseparable as flower and fragrance." But this realization was not initially apparent to Rabbin; it came slowly into view after many years and many journeys.
With the 1971 publication of Ram Dass' seminal book, Be Here Now, an entire generation of Americans "turned on, tuned in, and dropped out"-embracing the inward journey to self-realization espoused by the consciousness pioneers of that era. Inspired by the burgeoning "new age" of kaleidoscopic mysticism and disillusioned with the cultural touchstone of materialism and the ethos of the military-industrial complex, thousands of people embraced a mixed bag of transcendent philosophies and meditative practices. Robert Rabbin was among them.
As a high school senior in 1968, Rabbin formed a campus political committee to educate and motivate students, worked on Sen. Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign, and joined anti-Viet Nam war marches. "I went to Sacramento to study political science, but an epiphany I had experienced when I was eleven years old wouldn't leave me alone." Over-riding his political interest and social concerns was a spiritual concern: "I had experienced the spiritual world behind this material world, and I was compelled to explore that. I couldn't give myself to anything until I had resolved the questions about who I was and the nature of reality." Traveling restlessly through Europe and the Middle East, he met a number of fellow seekers who had been to India, and he decided to go. Following a four-month overland trek to India, Robert met meditation master Swami Muktananda. "The spiritual awakenings I had with Muktananda were so profound, I knew that is where I belonged." For the next ten years, Rabbin remained under the spiritual tutelage of this famed master. Shortly after Muktananda's death, Robert began an eclectic career of writing, teaching, executive coaching and consulting. "Even though I worked in the world, I maintained a kind of transcendental distance from life. I was only at home in the silence of my inner being; I was not truly comfortable in the world. I had found my Self, but I had lost touch with my humanness. While I had love for everything, I had no feeling or affection for anyone or anything.
"The shadow side of spiritual work is the risk of mistaking detachment for dissociation, and using spiritual concepts and ideals to be socially and politically aloof and disengaged. It's almost as if apathy is a badge of honor among spiritual practitioners, especially those who engage in contemplative practices like meditation. We turn inward to find an antidote to confusion, pain, and alienation, all of which seem to be embedded in the world. Once we find the inner currents of peace and love, we are not inclined to re-engage with the same world from which we turned. I was a poster child for that philosophy."
Coinciding with the events of September 11, 2001, Rabbin says he experienced a full healing of the "core wound of humanity-separation from life itself. I experienced a reunion with life, and every cell in my body realized that there had never been any separation. In both a metaphorical and literal way, I and the world became one. The subtle polarities of inner and outer, spiritual and worldly, ego and Self all disappeared."
As a result of this experience, Rabbin said he was compelled to embody the words of Kabbalah: First we receive the Light. Then we impart the Light. Thus we repair the world. "Repairing the world requires that we add responsibility to realization, caring to love, and action to insight. If there is no inner peace, can there be peace in the world? And, likewise, if there is no peace in the world, can there be inner peace? Inner and outer are more than mirror images of each other: they are each other," he concluded. "Each generation must create its own authentic expression of spiritual wisdom. Our time is calling us to participate wholeheartedly in social and political life, to evolve the ideal of sage as 'aloof witness' to sage as 'passionate advocate for peace, freedom, and social justice.'"
While people often bond with others along religious or political party affiliation, Rabbin avoids this convention. He points to Paul Ray's definitive work on cultural creatives, people associated more by values than by religion or politics. The people who comprise this group are united by their strong support of human rights, ethical business practices, the environment and sustainability, holistic health and spiritual development.
"The core audience for Radical Sages" Rabbin continued, "are those who want to expand their awareness and develop their spiritual connection to others and life without losing touch with the world around them. We don't identify ourselves with labels like Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative; we align ourselves with those principles of living that reflect the highest expression of our common humanity. Radical Sages is not a revolution of ideology but an evolution of spiritual action."
Rabbin started Radical Sages as a portal through which both inner and outer directed people can find new sources of spiritual connection and meaning through action. "The embodiment of spiritual wisdom is through committed action. The only way to distinguish 'altered states' is through 'altered traits.' Such terms as engaged Buddhism and spiritual activism are really redundant - as long as we have life we are engaged and active. We have to convert inner realization to conscious choice."
The user-friendly navigation bar leads visitors through layers of news stories, action alerts, media releases, exclusive essays by well-known spiritual leaders, world documents, speeches and interviews, and Rabbin's SageBlog. There is also a special section for contributions from kids. Another exclusive feature is the stable of social commentators Rabbin has just begun to assemble-yoga and meditation teachers and spiritual leaders who will offer analysis and opinion of current events from a "higher consciousness" perspective. Future plans include a Radical Sages web ring and an online store of merchandise branded with the Radical Sages logo. People are encouraged to volunteer their time and expertise to promote and expand Radical Sages.
Rabbin, who lives in San Francisco, currently funds all Radical Sages activities through his speaking and workshop fees, though donations are welcomed. He is the author of several books, including Igniting The Soul At Work and Echoes of Silence, and more than 200 articles.
Survival in developed and underdeveloped countries has two
different meanings. Physical survival in
underdeveloped countries exposes the raw reality of simply being able to stay alive. Physical
survival in developed countries, even in the most desperate of situations, does not even come close
to the intensity required to stay alive in those countries where its citizens have to scour the
earth to extract even the most meager of meals. Yet it is those who have had to struggle against
all odds to simply survive, where I have met some of the happiest people. They had nothing; the
only thing they had to lose was their life, and that seemed to create a caring and unguarded
genuineness that seems to be missing in developed countries.
In developed countries, physical survival rests upon the
ongoing security of an abundant food
supply, good housing, medical care, law and order and the opportunity to work. In underdeveloped
countries, all of the foregoing can be missing. However, within that deprivation of nearly
everything that developed countries take for granted, they retain their willingness to share what
little they have with another. Whereas in developed countries there are overwhelming undercurrents
to secure whatever each has and accumulate more of the same, just bigger, newer and faster,
establishing isolated guardedness as a way of life.
From the abundance of developed countries a trickle of food
can reach improvised individuals as a
band-aid for survival. The band-aid is just that and nothing else. It lasts a day. The next day a
band-aid may be there, or it may not be there. Through no fault of their own, simply the fact they
are born into an area of the world where physical survival is at its harshest, they are forced to
depend upon band-aids, from another, to survive. Even living within that diminished atmosphere
where self-respect, self-worth and self-image is under constant attack they still find the space
within to smile, and mean it.
Living life on the edge of survival appears to intensify the
reality of personal unguarded honesty
between one human and another. The potential superficiality (newer, better, faster) of living does
not even have an opportunity to arise. Everyday their primary requirement, beyond food, shelter and
clothing, is to discover some form of hope.
Hope either is or is not. There is no in-between. If only one
minuscule thread of hope exists, it
is full on. Sever that thread and hope dies taking with it the force to survive. If only a flicker
of hope exists, hope shines. Remove the source of that flicker and life is easily banished, and
shrouded in darkness. When darkness prevails the light of living is difficult, if not impossible,
to discover. Within that all consuming darkness a band-aid, even if it is for just one day, can
bring a glimmer of light and within that light hope once again shines. Hope either is, or is not,
and turning darkness to light can be as simple as sharing our abundance with those without the
opportunity to live within an area where it overflows.
Developed countries devour world resources as they continue
their quest for newer, better, faster
and greater self-indulgent life styles that grow in extravagance. To support that self-obsessed
need they, with blind abandon, plunder countries of their resources using the vulnerability of its
citizens to produce the goods, in order to maintain their compulsive appetite. The citizens of
underdeveloped countries are seduced into working in conditions and with remuneration that are
prohibited in developed nations, under the guise of survival benefit, while the reality exists
within exploitation. Greed easily converts its own twisted deceit into benefit for others, in the
disguise of progress. It makes those that 'have' want more, to be produced by those that have less,
all maintained within the deception of a false hope flying under the flag of development. Those
that 'have' create a deceptive hope; imprisoning the underprivileged in disguised forms of bondage,
which is devaluing and dehumanizing one for the benefit of another. False hope, although still
hope, can ultimately turn on its creator, not to rid itself of hope, but of the falsehood it exists
To continually endure under false hope is what ultimately
creates hopelessness. Hopelessness
contains the potential to turn compliance into defiance. Defiance, in turn, easily bites the hand
that once threw it crumbs from the loaf of abundance. Then those that, with great magnanimity,
distributed the crumbs are astonished that their generosity had its hand bitten. Those that did the
biting are witnessed as rebels, or even terrorists, to that generosity. The crumbs are quickly
withdrawn and those rebels to false progress are hunted down and eliminated as destroyers of
progressive development. It is, after all, important for 'those that have' to maintain controlling
power in order to generate newer, better and faster toys. In a world filled with artificial
seductive stimulation the toys are an essential aspect of its façade, and that artificiality must
be guarded to protect their way of life. They have tied what they value to 'things' that come and
go, as they have lost the ability to see beyond them, and in that process devalue others as
servants to create 'things' of value to themselves.
The sandpit of materialist endeavors is a recycling game of
accumulation. It is always astonishing
to witness that those who build sandcastles do not even take into consideration that the normal
coming and going of the tides of life will always flatten whatever they construct. That sandcastle
may survive an hour, or even a day, and sometimes a week. However, ultimately it will go. Yet those
sandcastle builders do everything possible to protect their construction against the constantly
shifting world they have built upon. Fear of loss drives that protection as they have lost their
connection to the world of trust, and with that loss, fear naturally arises as the loss opens the
back door, allowing fear to enter. Although the tides of life may wash away what has been built,
the sand always remains. To shift awareness away from fear of loss, to trust, subliminally
communicates our natural and innate ability for unguarded sharing of the sand within the sandpit.
It is in that sharing-trust where real equality, fraternity and progressive civilizations exist.
Sharing does not mean simply providing just enough to keep one
running on the treadmill of life, as
nothing is in reality moving. It just appears as if it is. Eventually those on the treadmill will
realize they have been tricked into believing they were moving when in fact they have not moved at
all. Some may just keep running as they can see no other way to maintain momentum. However, others
will realize their error and stop as the false movement is recognized as false hope. This, of
course, stops the treadmill from moving. The builders of the treadmill will have to move it to
another location where it can begin again, as they must do everything possible to maintain their
sandcastles. Loss is not an option.
Providing false hope in the guise of progress will always come
back to bite, as it fosters
hopelessness, creating the teeth for that action. When hopelessness is an individual reality, the
light of ones life has been turned off. Living within that darkness, witnessing the superficial
brightness beyond their reach, can establish the need to proliferate itself as that artificial
light is blinding to those within that darkness. A fixation to remove that artificiality arises
naturally, appearing as the only way to move as the treadmill is gone. False hope has been
converted into a falsehood of another variety that is now intent upon removing that superficial
artificiality, in the belief that when removed the true light will shine, and the darkness will be
lifted. However, that is just one form of fear confronting another form of fear, and ultimately
Many sandcastles will be built and knocked over, and built
again before it is realized that the
sand is our common heritage and bond. Sharing it is the glue that bonds one to the other, in mutual
respect and support. Denying sand to one who may live on a rocky beach will always break that
natural bond. It is natural as we all have identical needs. However, by taking more, you leave less
for others and that will always create conflict and violence on multiple levels of living. It is
all so unnecessary and an absolute waste of humans and resources.
You may be wondering about the title of this little essay
'Spiritually Impoverished', as it may
appear to have little in common with what has been written. However, you instinctively know the
connection. If ever in doubt about the correctness of governmental or corporate policy, simply
place it within the filter of 'how does it affect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable amongst
us'. And 'amongst us' means everyone in the world, as like it or not humans are one large family.
That filter will normally separate the truth from the counterfeit. The counterfeit is usually
couched in slick evasive doublespeak; to justify profits, or prevent their loss, and their focus
stops there. It is similar to a World War 1 general negligently demanding troops to run into
machine gun fire in the hope of gaining a yard or two of ground. There is no thought of the carnage
that decision creates, as the focus remains on the yard or two gained. The same with profits, as
decisions solely focused upon profits cannot see beyond it, and the potential carnage to humans is
ignored. The most difficult part is to recognize any part you may play in those decisions. If
recognized, what are you going to do about that knowing? You may only be one grain of sand within
the sandcastle but that one grain of sand contains the ability to transform it. Spiritual
impoverishment can be reformed into innovative spiritual development through that transformation.
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