We all see the world through our own structures and filters, leading us to make certain assumptions about the world. Through our viewpoints, some of us see things more linearly, while some of us see things more non-linearly.
It was Isaac Newton who helped to develop a new way of seeing the world with his far-reaching and far-sighted theories of gravity and three laws of motion. Still to this day scientists have not totally unraveled the mysteries of gravity. Yet even though Newton was a man of vision, he has been derided as the inventor of a paradigm that views the world in a mechanistic fashion.
To see the world as either mechanistic or non-mechanistic and Newton as the one to blame for the world’s ills may be too didactic of a perspective. Instead what is required is a more integrated approach, in which the paradigms we use to view the world can be seen as a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum would be the process of reason void of emotions; at the other end would be far-sighted vision. The spectrum would be graded, with each ascending level encompassing the level below it.
We can use this approach as a means of transforming our worldview and, on a larger scale, our institutions. Ultimately this approach can encompass an evolution of consciousness, leading to both personal and social transformation.
In a recent interview, the biologist and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould ventured onto a subject that is dear to his heart: writing. Over the years, he has written prolifically in scientific journals and the popular media and has a few best sellers to his credit. But what he had to say in the course of the interview regarding scientific writing was certain not to win him any friends and possibly make him a few enemies.
The interviewer asked him what his take was on academic writing. He replied:
Compared to what? I don’t think academic writing ever was wonderful. However, science used to be much less specialized…There wasn’t much technical terminology, and then, most academics are not trained in writing. And there is, I guess, what is probably worse than ever before, the growing professional jargon…I can’t believe that anyone would WANT to write that way.
And then he discussed Goethe, who died in 1832. Goethe did some important scientific work in plant morphology and mineralogy, yet was not taken seriously because he was also a poet. Gould summed up his thoughts about how Goethe was shunned by his scientific contemporaries by saying, “This is not entirely a new phenomenon” (Dreifus, 2000, p. 4).
What Gould is discussing is the issue of how science, and all society for that matter, thinks and forms judgements. There are certain assumptions we all make, certain structures from which we framework our perspectives, and certain filters from which we view the world. Gould is a person who thinks and forms judgements with his head and his heart. What he is inferring about a lot of scientists is that they mainly think with their heads, writing in a language that is technical and specialized, and that there is a certain rigidity and lack of scope in their thinking.
If we were to put that another way, what we would say is that some scientists think in a Cartesian manner. This is defined as mechanistic, deterministic thinking; to Descartes “the material universe was a machine and nothing but a machine. There was no purpose, life, or spirituality in matter” (Capra, 1982, p. 60). Thinking tends to become quite rigid when a person sees a world devoid of meaning or spirit. This is what Gould was alluding to.
The mantle of Cartesian determinism was later passed down to Isaac Newton, who is immortalized for his theories of gravity and three laws of motion; in addition he has erected in his name another monument to eternity: we remember him as the creator of the Newtonian paradigm.
Newton’s theories led him to view matter as “solid, massy impenetrable, movable particles” (Davies and Gribbin, 1992, p. 11), and gave him a vision of a clockwork universe in which the entire universe ran smoothly like a precision clock, governed by immutable laws. “Absolute, true, and mathematical time,” wrote Newton, “of itself and by its own nature, flows uniformly, without regard to anything external” (Capra, 1975, p. 55). Newton’s scientific doctrines set in motion the forces that led Western society to evolve from an agrarian civilization to a machine-driven one and paved the way for the Industrial Revolution.
Newton and the New Sciences
The Newtonian Paradigm has been contrasted with the New Scientific Paradigm, which is considered a way of thinking based on the laws promulgated by such recent scientific developments as quantum theory, complexity theory, and systems thinking. This viewpoint has a number of things in common: the universe is based on probabilities of events occurring; there is a fundamental interconnectedness amongst all, whether animate or inanimate; and instead of an objective universe, we reside in a realm where our subjective experiences play a part. Because the Newtonian paradigm has been blamed by many as the cause of many of our society and the world’s ills, Newton has often been reviled as the devil incarnate.
Some see the Newtonian paradigm as the “bad” paradigm, and the new sciences as the “good” paradigm, and that they are the only two paradigms that exist. Even Fritjof Capra has remarked on this subject, stating that there are only two paradigms, “The old and the new” (Hilton-Kramer, in Marien, 1997, p. viii).
Was Newton a Mystic?
This may be the case and Capra might be correct, but it may be too didactic to state things so absolutely. For one thing, Isaac Newton was somewhat of a mystic and visionary. We think of the Newtonian paradigm as being one that is a hallmark of reason, logic and intellect above all else, yet Newton was devoted to alchemy and metaphysics (Harris, 1997). The economist John Maynard Keynes had this to say about Newton:
He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago (Keynes, 1951, pp. 363-364).
Others chroniclers of Newton understood that his interest in metaphysics helped him in formulating his theories of cosmology. To the dismay of some of his scientific contemporaries, Newton invoked the alchemical notion of hidden and unknown forces of attraction and repulsion between bodies, as against the straightforward mechanistic notion of force via impact (Henry, 1990, pp. 583-596).
Newton made a visionary leap by inventing that an invisible force (an invisible mechanism) existed in nature and could operate across great distances. He envisioned the entire universe as a system that was interconnected by the attractive force of gravity. Moreover, his vision of gravity fit his spiritual/mystical vision of God – gravity was an expression of an invisible (loving) force that connected the universe as a whole (Westfall, 1980).
Albert Einstein. Newton was a visionary who was far ahead of his time. Though the concept of gravity as an unseen force was not completely understood by his contemporaries and later generations of scientists, his theories were accepted. It was not until the work of another visionary, Albert Einstein, that gravity could be more readily comprehended. Einstein didn’t so much break apart Newton’s theories as much as he expounded on them. By virtue of his theory of general relativity, he proved that all mass and energy warps space and time so that bodies fall together. Einstein’s theories transformed the understanding of the universe from one in which space and time were seen as passive witnesses to one in which they were active participants in the dynamics of the cosmos (Hawking, 1999, p. 79).
Quantum thinkers. Einstein’s theories led to further extrapolations by scientists such as Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrodinger; their theories became the foundations of quantum mechanics, which have taken Einstein’s understandings of the world of matter, energy and the cosmos one step further.
Towards a unified field. As scientists continue to probe the underpinnings of the cosmos, one thing that has eluded them is a theory that combines the four known forces of nature: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and gravity. The reason scientists still cannot put together a coherent theory is because of gravity, the most pervasive of forces. Much is now known about gravity – that its sphere of influence is infinite; that it holds sway over all matter and energy; and that it is the weakest of the four forces, at a magnitude of 38 orders (100 trillion trillion trillion) times feebler than the strong nuclear force (Fisher, 1991, p. 74). Yet it remains the stumbling block in the quest for a unified theory. Quantum field theory has successfully united the three other forces, but no one has been able to fit gravity into the picture. Thus, Newton’s vision, legacy and theories still hold scientists at bay.
The only way gravity has been able to be merged with quantum field theory has been through the application of superstring, or M (ironically one of the things M stands for is “magic”), theory. And to unite these forces with M theory, it has been proposed that all the forces are different notes produced by vibrating strings, and that these strings vibrate in a space of ten dimensions (Johnson, 1998a).
Metaphysical physicists. If all these theories and speculations weren’t so well grounded in scientific principles, we would think they were the work of crackpots. But this is now the mainstream of thinking in physics. When you hear of such conjecture, you wonder if these people are channeling mystic voices. Said social scientist Dr. Ullica Segerstrale, “I have never met more metaphysical people than physicists” (Glanz, 1999, p. 3). And one also wonders if these physicists may not understand everything that they theorize; this also occurs with mystical thinking, where people don’t always comprehend what they are envisioning.
For example, at the Strings ’98 conference held in Santa Barbara, California, physicists were so excited by a new theory, proposed by Dr. Juan Maldacena of Harvard, that broke new ground in M theory, that they wrote a song and dance parody of the Macarena that they called the Maldacena. The first verse went like this:
You start with the brane
And the brane is B.P.S.
Then you go near the brane
And the space is A.D.S.
Who knows what it means,
I don’t, I confess (Johnson, 1998b, p. 1).
In other words, they love the theory, though they don’t necessarily comprehend what it means. It’s like the joke the scientist Arthur Eddington told earlier in the century about Einstein’s theories of relativity: “There’s only three people in the world who understand Einstein’s theories, and I’m trying to find out who the third person is” (Golden, 1999, p. 64).
Non-metaphysical physicists. Thus, Newton’s visionary legacy has taken us into the 21st century, yet we’re still trying to unravel his understandings. Therefore, it is a knee-jerk reaction to dismiss his work or his scientific thinking so reflexively. As the scientist Karl Pribram said, “Do not bite my finger; look where I am pointing” (Pribram, cited in Lazlo, 1995). As happens with many visionary people, Newton’s works were passed down generation by generation, with each successive group adding to the body of knowledge. Yet in doing so, they were missing the essence of Newton’s vision. They were seeing the materialistic aspects of Newton’s thoughts, but were missing the metaphysical underpinnings.
Religion and Mysticism
A similar thing occurs with the difference between mysticism and religion. Most organized religions are based on the teachings of a mystic: Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Lao Tzu. The followers of the mystic will write down the teachings and use these as the code of conduct for all followers to come. This gives all followers parameters from which to operate, but it also leads to a certain rigidity in which the essence and flavor of the original message is lost and replaced by rules and laws which everyone in the group is expected to abide by. Gone is the original vision, replaced by a groupthink and materialistic view of God as omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
There is a joke that sums this up, in which the mystic’s followers (the rule makers) play the role of the devil: God and the devil were walking together when God picked up a piece of paper. “What does it say?” the devil asked. “Truth,” said God serenely. “Give it to me,” said the devil eagerly. “I’ll organize it for you” (Goswami, 1993, p. 55). In other words, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
New and Old Paradigms
Kuhn on Paradigms
The dualistic and perhaps absolutist concept of a single new vs. a single old paradigm is not something that sits well with everyone. Thomas Kuhn (1962, p. 49) remarked that the whole of science was implied to be a “single monolithic and unified enterprise that must stand or fall with any one of its paradigms as well as with all of them together.” Instead, Kuhn said, “Science is seldom or never like that…Viewing all fields together, it seems a rather ramshackle structure with little coherence among its various parts.”
Furthermore, Kuhn stated that what may be a revolutionary new approach for one scientific specialty may have no bearing on another specialty. “Though quantum mechanics is a paradigm for many scientific groups, it is not the same paradigm for them all” (Kuhn, 1962, p. 50).
Are New Paradigms Overused?
Many think the term new paradigm gets overused. A search of the literature in 1998 found 124 papers in leading journals invoked the term “new paradigm” (Cohen, 1999, p. 1998). One such paper, in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was entitled “Regulated co-translational ubiquitination of apolipoprotein B100: A new paradigm for proteasomal degradation of a secretory protein.” Daniel Steinberg, an apolipoprotein B100 expert, said the paper offered an “alternative hypothesis,” and that to call it a new paradigm was “stretching the words very thin.” Steinberg was also a colleague of Thomas Kuhn and had many conversations with him. “I thought we should reserve ‘new paradigm’ for Darwin, Freud and Newton,” Steinberg says. “Maybe we use it five times in a century” (Cohen, 1999, p. 1998). And scientist Josef Penninger says that the term new paradigm is an attention-getter, and that he uses it sometimes “but really for political reasons – to make reviewers happy and for funding” (Cohen, 1999, p. 1999).
Newton’s New Paradigm
We could say that Newton’s theories were a new paradigm, for they helped break the church’s stranglehold on scientific thought – it was a time highlighted by a fearfulness, superstition, brutality and condemnation of the scientific impulse. Newton’s work synthesized the earlier works of Johannes Kepler, Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei (Frankel, 1959, p. 2). Each of these men was able to break free of the strictures handed down to them by the church’s basic assumptions and structures. Galileo’s work so outraged the church that he was forced to stand trial and sentenced to life imprisonment, a sentence that was later commuted to permanent house arrest.
Reality as a Great Chain of Being
An Inclusive Viewpoint
Instead of viewing the differing paradigms as an exclusive either/or situation, it is best to see it from the perspective of an inclusive both/and situation: both views can be correct and can be integrated into one another. As Huston Smith has said, “Reality is graded, and with it, cognition” (Smith, cited in Wilber, 1998, p. 35). Newton and his predecessor’s works did not negate the church’s religio-political worldview but instead helped to carve out interrelated spheres of influence for both science and religion. Other philosophers talk about the traditional worldview as being seen as a Great Chain of Being, one in which:
Reality is a rich tapestry of interwoven levels, reaching from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit; and each senior level ‘enfolds’ or ‘envelops’ its junior dimensions – a series of nests within nests within nests of Being – so that every thing and event in the world is interwoven with every other (Wilber, 1998, p. 7).
Good vs. Bad Paradigms
Although this is the way traditional worldviews have seen the world, in our contemporary society many are quick to draw divisions in the sand between what is considered the good paradigm and the bad paradigm. To some, “good” means nature, the body, holism, oneness, linking, primitive cultures, the feminine, quantum physics. And “bad” has come to represent culture, mind, atomism, division, ranking, modernity, the masculine, classical physics (Visser, 1997, p. 3).
Yet this misses the point, for as Ken Wilber has stated, “unity is not more spiritual than division, for there are immature forms of unity, as there are mature and spiritual forms of making divisions.” Furthermore, he states, “so-called primitive cultures are not automatically more spiritual than so-called secularized Western culture. They can be very dogmatic, cultivate a group mentality, and prevent individual growth” (Visser, 1997, p. 4).
Wilber does agree that there has been a revolution in science that has embraced a new paradigm that is holistic rather than atomistic. He groups within this classification such approaches as quantum physics, relativistic physics, dynamical systems theory, autopoiesis, chaos theory, and complexity theory (Wilber, 1998, p. 38-39). Yet he feels that even with these, they can be part of the solution or they can be part of the problem.
Towards A Spectrum of Paradigms
An Integral Approach
What is needed, then, is a different approach to looking at paradigms, a more integral approach, one that understands that both the so-called “old” and “new” paradigms are interrelated and interwoven. I perceive this approach as being a spectrum, with each ensuing level encompassing the previous one, as in the Great Chain of Being. And at the ultimate, or highest end of the spectrum, is a paradigm that unites with spirit, again as with the Great Chain of Being.
What I propose the levels of the spectrum to be called are, in ascending order, mind, heart, heart and mind, and heart/mind.
What I call mind in this sense is what some call thinking with the head only, following the dictum as stated by Descartes that “I think therefore I am:” this follows his belief that reason and emotion were functions separate from one another (Damasio, 1994, p. 144). This type of thinking depends on clear, rational thought.
The heart paradigm would be attributed to those who think based on emotions, feelings, hunches, etc. People who think this way base their decisions and thoughts solely on what feels right.
Heart and mind attempts to balance feelings and reason to think in a way that can be creative, yet tempered by pragmatism.
The heart/mind approach is the way of the visionary, a way that allows someone to access the deeper recesses of the infinite. As mentioned earlier, both Newton and Einstein were visionaries, though in the “old” vs. “new” scenario, only one would be seen in that light.
Each of these levels of the spectrum encompasses the one before: even a visionary must interpret what they are seeing and bring it into a common language, even if it’s a language that may take others some time before they can truly decipher it, as in Einstein’s theories of relativity. This encompassing aspect is an integral/integrated view; it is also possible that a person may use a higher aspect of the spectrum without integrating a lower aspect of the spectrum. Or it is possible that a person may believe that the higher levels of the spectrum are the better ones, and the lower ones are the worse ones. To do that, though, repeats the same simplistic thinking as is done with the division between the “good” and “bad” paradigms as mentioned previously.
At this point, I would like to delve a little further into each of these areas of the spectrum. At first, though, I’d like to discuss my own personal journey along the spectrum of paradigms.
My Personal Journey
My initial training was in mathematics. I was trained to see the world geometrically and linearly, and that everything could be neatly explained via mathematical principles. Yet many mathematicians have a touch of the mystic in them, perhaps from their contemplation of the meaning of infinity.
Some say that mathematics is the language of the Gods, a language that has its own rhythm and cadences. Albert Einstein, when asked about the language of mathematics, replied, “Words and language, whether written or spoken, do not seem to play any part in my thought processes. The psychological entities that serve as building blocks for my thought are certain signs or images, more or less clear, that I can reproduce and recombine at will” (Einstein, cited in Hadamard, 1945, p. 142).
The Greek mathematician Pythagoras is remembered as the founder of the Pythagorean theorem, which states that in a triangle that contains a right angle, the sum of the squares of the sides is equal to the square of the hypotenuse; or in other words, a2 + b2 = c2. This is all I knew about Pythagoras from my schooling. But Pythagoras’ theories went further than hypotenuses. He believed that all was numbers and that the entire cosmos was linked harmonically through mathematics and music in what he called the “harmony of the spheres” (Terenzi, 1998, p. 45-46).
That’s not to say that every mathematician is touched by the mystic’s world. And I don’t necessarily recall that I was drifting off during math classes to ponder celestial symphonies. I was trained to reason and find logical solutions. But I allowed myself to venture into things that were foreign to my training and learned sensibilities; when I discovered Chinese medicine and philosophy I found an inherent logic that resonated with my earlier training and was able to embrace it wholeheartedly. In fact, as I acclimated towards the Asian point of view, I lost interest in the western scientific point of view.
Or so I thought. I recall a lecture I gave a few years ago on Chinese medicine. I commented to my audience that Chinese medicine believes that everything can be explained logically and that every effect has a cause. I thought about my comments afterwards and realized that I was still the geometrician at heart.
I guess once the mathematician, always the mathematician, which has its pluses and minuses. I have had to struggle over the years to learn to think with my heart, to trust my feelings. I also went through a rejection period where I accepted many far-out new age approaches that really had no firm grounding in science.
Now I believe I’ve come to an evolution: I’ve discovered a logic based on some of the new sciences that has helped me to understand things that earlier I didn’t believe explainable; in the past I would’ve either rejected some of these things categorically or accepted them on blind faith. Now I’m learning to trust my feelings more, to listen to my intuition and dreams, and to understand the silent pulse of the universe. I now can understand what the writer George Leonard (1978, p. xii) says:
At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, there exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm, a complex of waveforms and resonances, which is absolutely individual and unique, and yet which connects us to everything in the universe.
The act of getting in touch with this pulse can transform our personal experience and in some way alter the world around us. I feel like I have been through the spectrum of paradigms, and have at one time or another lived by the credo of each of them. I have experienced each one separately, believing that paradigm was the only way; now I am living in a more integrated manner, and try to use all of them, often at the same time.
So now let us examine the different segments along the spectrum of paradigms.
Emotions vs. Reason
This is the domain of reason, of a certain way of thinking that believes that emotions and feelings get in the way of obscuring clear, rational thought (Vogel, 1997, p. 1269). This is a mechanistic way of seeing the world, one that sees everything in black and white terms, and that for every cause there is an effect. One can see things this way whether they subscribe to the old or new paradigm. It is a way that negates the heart and feelings. Feelings are equated with intuition; many professionals find these types of thought processes to be disconcerting and unprofessional (Easen and Wilcockson, 1996, p. 668).
The hallmark for mind thinking is academic intelligence, as measured by the IQ test. It is considered that the higher a person’s IQ, the more intelligent and the more powers of reason they have; this should then allow them to achieve anything they want in life. Often people with these high levels of IQ rise to the professional class, especially the two fields that specifically cherish the powers of reason devoid of emotion: the legal and medical professions.
The Legal Profession. Most people rank lawyers low on the list of trusted professions. An old joke states, Why does New Jersey have the most toxic waste dumps and California the most lawyers? Because New Jersey had first choice. Qualities like kindness, patience and sensitivity, the first things you look for in a friend, are the last traits you want in an attorney (Grutman and Thomas, 1990, p. 14). Lawyers exhibit certain traits because they thrive in a hostile environment where doing business means doing unto others before they do unto you (Grutman and Thomas, 1990, p. 62). In other words, a lawyer with a heart is an oxymoron.
The Biomedical Profession. And the modern biomedical profession, in the 100 plus years it’s been an industry, has stressed reason and objective truth as its modus operandi. This approach has been quite successful to a certain degree; specific germs and specific viruses are envisioned as causing specific diseases, and specific drugs are interpreted as causing specific disorders to disappear (Schwartz and Russek, 1997, p. 10). Yet its strengths are also its weaknesses, as it doesn’t realize, or prefers to deny, that not everything can be mechanistically explained, and that some processes are more complex and non-linear. This inability to grasp the big picture has led most biomedicine adherents to either reject categorically or demand more evidence before they would be willing to accept realms of healing outside their sphere.
There are many things that biomedicine cannot fully comprehend or explain, from the placebo effect, to energy medicine and spiritual healing, to spontaneous remissions. The explanations for these lie beyond a thinking process that sees everything in terms of black and white. To understand these processes, biomedicine would have to understand that there’s a world that exists beyond the realm of matter and that this world encompasses the world of spirit. The ironic thing is that becoming a physician has always been regarded as a spiritual path (Dossey, 1999, p. 226).
In the current practice of biomedicine, there is a place for subjective knowledge and the clinician’s experience; this can aid the practitioner in integrating their feelings into their thinking. Yet, even this is not satisfactory to the biomedical powers-that-be. The new gold standard in biomedicine is now the outcomes movement, which features evidence-based medicine. The purpose of evidence-based medicine is to purge “intuition, unsystematic clinical experience, and physiological rationale” from medical care (Evidence-based Medicine Working Group, cited in Tannenbaum, 1999, p. 759). Furthermore, according to the outcomes movement, a physician’s experience contributes little to, and may actually subvert, medical knowledge (Tanenbaum, 1999, p. 758).
The founder of evidence-based medicine is a man by the name of David Sackett. He was asked in an interview to comment on the artfulness of clinical medicine in treating individual patients. He replied simply, “Art kills” (Zuger, 1997, p. B11).
An approach that believes that subjectivity is an evil that needs to be purged is an approach devoid of heart. It is a way of seeing life strictly from the head, of thinking purely of and by the mind.
Biomedicine and Chaos. One would think it possible that complexity and chaos theories are something that could be more readily integrated into biomedicine’s worldview. They are a scientific approach that combines biology, mathematics and physics, and should appeal to bioscientists, or so you would think. A physician, concurring with this opinion, wrote an article in a medical journal in which he stated that “American medicine is one of the last bastions of the modernist belief that all things are potentially knowable.” He then went on to write that the ability to know all things, based on a deterministic logic, is a fallacy and that chaos theory needs to be integrated into medicine (Goodwin, 1997, pp. 1399-1400).
His essay was met by rebutting physicians who decried “medicine still maintains a degree of reliability and predictability,” that “Chaos theory is still a theory,” and that “Quackery is sure to flourish” if chaos theory grabs a stronghold (Theodoropoulos, Manian, and Goodwin, 1998, pp. 835-836).
In other words, reason is relative to the reasoner. And at this level, the reasoner prefers leaving emotions and the feelings of the heart behind. This type of view believes that the entire world is purely objective, and there is no place for the subjective experience.
Recently, one of my patients, Maureen, came to see me. She was quite upset because she’s been having a hard time of it. Her problem mainly is that she can’t cope. She feels that she’s currently “detoxing,” and because of that she is extremely sensitive to people and other stimuli. Music, television, reading, movies, and more all bother her. Twice in the past few weeks she has spent a few nights alone at a spiritual retreat center; she checks in, goes to her room, and then spends the next few days in her room by herself.
Maureen can’t fathom why she’s going through this. She feels that for the most part she’s been detoxing for the last 10 years and that she should be beyond this kind of thing.
When Maureen said that she has been detoxing for the last ten years, I almost choked. I didn’t say anything to her because I didn’t want to shake her up, but the reality is, how can she have spent the last 10 years thinking she’s detoxing? She doesn’t work; she feels she needs to spend the time working on herself and healing her problems. Because she has no income, she lives with her parents. In my estimation what Maureen needs to do is get real and get a life. There is no doubt in my mind that she is very sensitive to other people’s energies, but so are a lot of other people. She needs to get out there and interact with the world. She is a prime example of what I consider heart thinking; this way negotiates the world solely by feeling, often at the neglect of logic.
Manifesting Your Destiny
Another patient of mine also reminded me of this. Linda is struggling to get her life in order. A year or so ago she went to hear Wayne Dyer talk. The subject of his talk was “Manifest Your Destiny,” which is also the title of Dyer’s book. Linda told me the talk was excellent, but unfortunately she’s doing something wrong, because she has not been able to manifest her destiny.
To me this is another case of screwy logic; it is something that permeates much of new age thinking, which I believe to be heart thinking. One cannot manifest their destiny simply by wishing it to come true.
A friend recently sent me an email in which she was telling me that she wanted to take an upcoming seminar that was fairly costly; she didn’t have the money for it, but was planning to beg, borrow, or go into hock for it. Her thinking was, as she put it, that “the universe rewards those who work towards enlightenment.” I saw this as very simplistic thinking and replied back, “This may be true, but the rewards are not always what you expect or want.”
I am not familiar with Wayne Dyer’s work, so I would be uncomfortable commenting on his theories. But I know he has a large following, which means there probably is some wisdom to his words. I don’t dispute the fact that it is possible that we can manifest our destiny; it’s just that it’s not as simple as many portray. And we surely can’t access the profundity of the concept by heart thinking. Heart thinking tends to believe that most life experiences have fairy tale endings.
Manifesting our destiny is an aspect that lies in the realm of heart/mind thinking. This is the realm of non-local mind, in which we touch upon the unitive consciousness that lies beyond us. In this realm we comprehend that the universe has an intelligence (Schwartz and Russek, 1999), a consciousness (Goswami, 1993), and a wave function (Hawking, 1988) unto itself. Talking about manifesting your destiny from a heart level sounds like wishful thinking; at a higher level this type of thinking sounds plausible. As physicist Hal Puthoff (Cited in Schwartz and Russek, 1999, p. 134) said, “Highly advanced technology is essentially indistinguishable from magic. Fortunately, such magic appears to be waiting in the wings of our deepening understanding of the quantum vacuum in which we live.”
Heart and Mind
Emotions and Reason
With this, people are capable of thinking with their heart and minds in an integrated way, balancing reason, intellect, feelings and emotions. Within this paradigm, there is a spectrum, with some people more mind oriented and some more heart oriented. But the common denominator always will be the integration of the two.
For example, Steven Weinberg, the Nobel-prize winning physicist, has admitted his disdain for matters of the spirit. His discourse on spirituality includes such aphorisms as “I don’t even know what it [spirituality] means” and “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.” Yet Weinberg admits to being frankly romantic and deeply touched by music and poetry in ways that reason can’t justify or explain. “I love grand opera,” he says, “I can’t hear ‘La Boheme’ without dissolving” (Glanz, 2000a, p. 2).
And when Weinberg devised his electroweak theory, a theory that won him the Nobel prize, it came to him in a flash, as he was driving his red Camaro to work at MIT in Cambridge in 1967. Dr. Freeman Dyson, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, said of Weinberg’s theory, “It was absolutely like lightning suddenly flashed. It was immediately obvious that it was great” (Glanz, 2000a, p. 3).
Weinberg’s flash of lightning was a moment of creative thinking, something that occurs to those who allow themselves to think with their hearts and minds. When Murray Gell-Mann, who for years was considered along with Richard Feynman as “the resident genius of Caltech” (Stein, 1999, p. 3), developed his theories of quarks, he creatively borrowed from James Joyce to give them such whimsical and creative names as strangeness, charm, truth, and beauty. And furthermore, when he devised an organizing scheme of the subatomic particles, he again creatively borrowed from Buddhist philosophy to call the scheme the Eightfold Way (Johnson, 1999, p. 5).
Creative, non-linear thinking is one of the hallmarks of the heart and mind approach. Creative thinking is not just the domain of artists and scientists; it permeates all fields and disciplines, including business, government, sports and education. Creative thinking is a process that works in fits and starts, coming to fruition at times that are least expected, like Steven Weinberg’s speculations that came to him while driving in his car. Entrepreneur Cameron Kuhn finds his ideas flow best late at night. “You know that time right before you’re about to fall asleep?” Kuhn asks. “If you stay up, that’s when you get very creative” (Greco, 1998, p. 78).
Creative thinking is the opposite of mind thinking, the way of the linear, geometric approach. Yet it is not a frenetic approach, one that just does something spontaneously that feels good; that would be more heart thinking, which lives a life based on feelings. Some of the most creative people say the reason they are so creative is that they can throw away the bad ideas much quicker than other people can (Csikszentmihalyi and Epstein, 1999, p. 60). In other words, with their mind they maintain an awareness of what their heart is thinking and creating.
Five steps towards the creative process. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book Creativity, discusses five steps that are part of the creative process (1996, p. 79-80):
- Preparation: Becoming immersed in the issues
- Incubation: Ideas churn around below the threshold of consciousness
- Insight: The “Aha!” moment, when pieces of the puzzle fall together
- Evaluation: Is the insight worth pursuing?
- Elaboration: Putting the insight into action
What Csikszentmihalyi is intimating, then, is that the creative process entails both the insight engendered by the heart, and the reason engendered by the brain, the mind.
Business and creative thinking. Businesses thrive on creative thinking, and know that in today’s information-based economy, creative idea development and thinking processes can mean the difference in getting the edge over the competition. The problem is that many companies unwittingly employ managerial practices that kill creativity (Amabile, 1998, p. 76). They do this because many companies still operate from the paradigm of thinking with the mind first and foremost – they stress productivity, efficiency and control, and put a great deal of external pressures on their employees (Amabile, 1998, p. 76).
The actor John Cleese, who is well known as a member of the Monty Python troupe, has been writing and appearing in business training films since 1972, applying his brand of humor as a way to help enlighten business leaders. He had this to say on how to best stamp out creativity in an organization:
One, always behave as though there’s a war on. Two, strangle curiosity at birth – it may spread. Three, open all meetings by reciting the magic mantra, “The problem has not yet been born that cannot be cracked with more data and newer technology.” Four, defend your preconceptions with your life! Five, if you spot a colleague engaging in unfamiliar activity such as wondering out loud or gazing thoughtfully into space, poke them with a sharp stick and accuse them of wasting time. Finally, six, make the questioning of deadlines a capital offense. If you’re in a state which does not allow capital punishment, relocate to Texas (Cleese, 1999, p. 47).
Jerry Hirshberg, the former Nissan Design International vice president, found that when his design group got bogged down, he would do such things as take the entire group to the movies. He found that “The tension began to dissipate. Within days ideas started flowing, knotty problem areas unraveled, and the design began to lead the designers, a sure sign that a strong concept was emerging” (Fisher, 1999, p. 292).
Michael Eisner, the CEO and Chairman of the Disney Corporation, says that creativity “has a way of cleaning up the balance sheet and making the income statement shine very brightly” (Wetlaufer, 2000, p. 114). Eisner also doesn’t believe that the creative process only extends to the creative side of a business; he says that it “doesn’t stop when we talk about strategy or finance…When we sit in business meetings, we stay and talk and talk until we figure out how to increase cash flow, or reduce corporate duplication, or rethink our hurdle rates.” These meetings are important, he believes, because it’s during the last half-hour or so that the best ideas come out. “Everybody starts driving each other crazy with ideas, and then somebody says something and it all comes together” (Wetlaufer, 2000, p. 115).
Creativity and leadership. Business consultant Marsha Madigan believes that it is the responsibility of leadership to help others actualize their creative potential. She believes that leadership is based on consciousness, “The understanding that what we observe with our senses is thought being brought to life” (Madigan, 1999, p. 1). Furthermore, she states:
When leaders see the value of allowing space in between their thoughts, perspective in their thinking, they can see beyond the circumstances and content of problems and situations, to graceful responses and effortless solutions…If we want to change our experience, we need to let go of our current thinking in order to see something new. We need a stance of curiosity, of willingness to give up being ‘right,’ in order to see what we don’t yet know, in order for a new reality to manifest through us (Madigan, 1999, p. 2-3).
Therefore, creative thinking is not just the act of creativity, but a new way of perceiving, of an expanded thinking process; it can lead to an evolution of consciousness, one that embraces and integrates the objective and subjective realms.
Another hallmark of heart and mind thinking is the ability to have a handle on your heart-felt emotions, to have a certain emotional aptitude. You don’t deny your feelings, but you don’t let them overwhelm you. This emotional aptitude is manifested as the ability to regulate your feelings (Epstein, 1999, p. 20). This is now popularly known as “Emotional Intelligence.”
Daniel Goleman, in his best selling book Emotional Intelligence (1995), outlined five skills that make it up:
- Self-awareness: The ability to recognize our feelings
- Managing emotions: The ability to put our feelings in context
- Motivating oneself: Directing the emotional impulses in the service of a goal
- Recognizing emotions in others: Being empathetic to others
- Handling relationships: The ability to manage other people’s emotions
Goleman believes that the development of emotional intelligence and the five above traits can separate people who do well in life from those who fail or who simply never seem to get very far, even if they have high academic intelligence (Fisher, 1998, p. 293). Goleman also demonstrates in his writings that low emotional intelligence can retard people’s full intellectual and life potential by doing such things as flooding the brain with stress hormones that impair memory, learning and thinking (Begley, 1998, p. 74).
As a person climbs higher along the spectrum of paradigms, they maximize more of their potential, because they are balancing their feelings and emotions (and the impulses that come with them), with their capacity to reason.
Little Big Man
One of my most favorite movies of all time is a film that starred Dustin Hoffman entitled Little Big Man. In the film Hoffman plays Jack Crabbe, the only white survivor of Custer’s Last Stand at Little Big Horn. The film begins with Crabbe, now a 121-year-old man, being interviewed as to his recollections. The film is then set as a flashback, telling Crabbe’s story of how he was able to live comfortably with both the Americans and the Native Americans.
One scene that stands out in my mind is towards the end. Crabbe is taking a walk with his adopted Native American father, the chief of the tribe; the chief is now an old man. They walk to the top of a mountain, and then the chief lays down and proclaims he is ready to die, “that it is a good day to die.” Crabbe is distraught that his father has decided that his life is complete and he is ready to return to the Great Spirit; Crabbe pleads with him, but the chief instead says his farewell. A little bit of comedy then ensues when, as the chief lies there, it starts to rain. The rain startles him and forces him to change his decision; he decides that perhaps he still has a few years left.
This approach to death is something that permeates native thinking: there is an innate wisdom some have to be able to discern when the time is near and they are ready to return to the infinite expanse. To have this innate wisdom is to maintain contact with that which lies beyond our bodies, hearts and minds. This way is not limited to those who are part of a native culture, though; it is inherent in each of us.
Take the recent death of the great cartoonist Charles Schulz of “Peanuts” fame. Schulz had been diagnosed with colon cancer in November of 1999; this led him to announce his retirement and that his last cartoon strip would run on Sunday, February 13. On Saturday night, February 12, at 9:45 PM, Schulz died in his sleep.
The person of pure reason, one who thinks solely with their mind, would say that Schulz died of his colon cancer, as his death certificate specified. The fact that it was the night before his strip was coming to an end would be seen as a mere coincidence.
But the more far-sighted people would disagree. They would see it as a significant event, imbued with deep meaning. Two of Schulz’s cartoonist colleagues made public statements in this regard.
One is Lynn Johnston, creator of the cartoon “For Better or for Worse.” She said, “It’s amazing that he dies just before his last strip is published.” She said such an ending was “as if he had written it that way.” Ms. Johnston then recollected something Mr. Schulz said to her last year while she sat with him in the hospital: “You control all these characters and the lives they live. You decide when they get up in the morning, when they’re going to fight with their friends, when they’re going to lose the game. Isn’t it amazing how you have no control over your real life?” Ms. Johnston then added her own comment, saying, “I think, in a way, he did” (Boxer, 2000, p. 2).
The other cartoonist who recently commented is Tom Tomorrow, creator of the strip “This Modern World.” In a recent strip he dedicated to the memory of Charles Schulz, Tomorrow wrote that Schulz told him:
That the strip would die with him – though mainly because his family had insisted that no one else be allowed to take it over…How strange that he passed away as his final strip ran in the weekend papers…The strip didn’t die with him – he died with the strip (Tomorrow, 2000, p. 4).
Infinity, Emptiness and the Zero-Point Field
The way of the heart/mind is an approach that understands and/or intuits that there is a vast realm that is beyond our material senses, yet is still every bit as valid as the world of visible reality. This is the world of infinity.
It begins with empty space. Empty space is a substance of sorts. In this empty space, particles burble in and out of existence as the void fluctuates around complete emptiness (Musser, 1998, p. 24). This sea of particles is known as the zero-point field, or the quantum vacuum. Physicists studying this vacuum have found that any given volume of empty space could contain an infinite amount of vacuum-energy frequencies, leading to an infinite amount of energy. This sea is largely invisible to us because it is completely uniform, bombarding us from all directions such that the net force acting on any object is zero (Yam, 1997, p. 84).
As particle physicists explore the heart of matter – the subatomic particle – they have found that there is virtually no end to the limit of particles to be discovered. There appears to be an infinite amount of life in the subatomic world. At last count hundreds of different particles have been found or postulated, some having life spans of 10[-24] seconds. On this subject, Enrico Fermi said, “If I could remember the names of all these particles, I would have been a botanist” (Fisher, 1991, p. 72).
Residents now populate the subatomic world with names such as pions, mesons, muons, hadrons, leptons, neutrinos, quarks, antiquarks, tauans, tau neutrinos, gluons, baryons, neutralinos, wimps, champs, fermions, and bosons. This is a strange world, yet one that is a verified reality, and one that contains the secrets of the universe, from the beginningless beginning to the endless end. For in the beginning, it is believed that the universe was a primordial soup, or a primordial form of matter (Glanz, 2000b, p. 1), and contained all these life forms.
This primordial soup amounted to the zero-point field, which as mentioned above, has zero net energy. This zero net energy has led some physicists to speculate that the universe arose from nothing, and through a process called “tunneling” space-time came into existence from nothing into a manifold of potential universes (Holt, 1994, p. 73).
Physicist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts has even gone so far as to say that incredibly tiny universes spontaneously nucleate out of nothing. He goes on to say that all of the universes in this metauniverse are disconnected from one another and generally have different initial conditions and values of the fundamental constants (Peterson, 1995, p. 102). Physicist Andrei D. Linde of Stanford has proposed that the universe is a huge, growing fractal (Peterson, 1995, p. 102).
The Mystic Voice
Carlos Castaneda. These theories are made in the arena of physics, yet at times these postulates sound as if they were emanating out of the mouths of mystics. We are used to hearing exotic sounding words out of the mouth of someone like Carlos Castaneda:
It is a thinking universe, a living universe, an exquisite universe! We have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe…One day on my way to the cafeteria at UCLA, I didn’t see people anymore, I saw energies, blobs, luminous spheres. It was dazzling. Before that, nothing existed except me, me, me (Epstein, 1996, p. 30-31).
And discussing the death of his mentor Don Juan, Castaneda said that Don Juan had chosen to “displace his assemblage point from its fixation in the conventional human world,” and had “combusted from within” (Thompson, 1998, p. A15).
Physicists. Many physicists, when faced with the metaphysical nature of their discoveries, have borrowed from mysticism to explain their thoughts. Thus we hear such things as “the most beautiful emotion is the mystical” (Albert Einstein), about how “the mechanism demands a mysticism” (Louis de Broglie), about existing “in the mind of some eternal Spirit” (Sir James Jeans), about why a “synthesis embracing both rational understanding and the mystical experience of unity is mythos, spoken or unspoken, of our present day and age” (Wolfgang Pauli), and about the most important relationship of all: “that of a human soul to a divine spirit” (Sir Arthur Eddington) (Wilber, 1993, pp. 1720).
Morphic fields. Some scientists speculate that what connects everyone are invisible fields. Rupert Sheldrake describes these fields as “invisible, intangible, inaudible, tasteless and odorless” (Sheldrake, cited in Wheatley, 1999, p. 52). Yet the field contains information and consciousness, what Sheldrake calls “morphic resonance.” This morphic field can then influence the behavior of species. Species don’t have to learn a skill; they pull it from the field (Sheldrake, 1995, p. 82). According to David Bohm, these fields provide “a quality of form that can be taken up by the energy of the receiver” (Bohm, cited in Talbot, 1986, p. 68).
Fields and consciousness. Discussions of fields as invisible levels of information that permeate the empty space all around us lead us to the understanding that consciousness is an entity of and by itself. Some scientists believe in a more material orientation for consciousness, that it is an epiphenomenon of the brain (this is mind thinking at its finest). Francis Crick has postulated that consciousness is a result of the adaptive, self-organizing system of neurons inside our heads whose hard wiring is the product of evolution, yet is still malleable at birth (Crick on Consciousness, 1994, p. 75).
The majority of scientists do not agree with Crick’s assessment. A recent survey of scientists found only 12% agreeing with Crick’s view; the great majority feel that consciousness is more a transcendent process (Sutherland, 1997, p. 3).
Amit Goswami, in his book, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World (1993, p. 48), puts forth the thesis that consciousness, not matter, is fundamental. He believes that both the world of matter and the world of thought and mental phenomena are determined by consciousness. He further states that consciousness is the ultimate reality; this reality is fundamentally a transcendent one that is the source of all material and mental phenomena.
Non-local consciousness. This belief lies at the basis of heart/mind thinking. It is a belief that understands that consciousness is non-local, that it is infinite in space and time. It has no boundaries and can extend from our local mind into the infinite depths of the universe, the zero-point energy field, and into the primordial soup from where the universe began. It is a world that encompasses vision, intuition, and far-sightedness.
In Chinese medicine it is said that the spirit, the “shen,” resides in the heart. Through the shen, people can then understand non-local vibrations. In the Chinese classical literature it is said, “through the purpose of the heart, man is in resonance” (Larre and Rochat de la Vallee, 1996, p. 44). The same authors go on to say, when discussing the Chinese pictogram for purpose, yi (pp. 41-42):
It is made with the heart at the bottom. The upper part is a note. This is not just a musical note, it is all kinds of vibrations which can be classified by five. The five notes are a way of organizing and classifying all the vibratory world following the great pattern of life on earth which goes by five…it means that the heart is able to organize the vibration which comes to it. The heart is able to recognize if this vibration conforms to the individual nature of the person of whom it is the center. The heart is like the conductor of an orchestra, recognizing if each vibration conforms to the harmony of the whole orchestra.
Thus, traditionally in China, the heart was seen as the region of the body that received the music and harmony of the spheres. The heart conducted it, then translated the message to the mind, which then translated it into words and images.
The Domain of Unitive Consciousness
Therefore, it is not just by our minds that we access non-local consciousness; it is an integration of heart and mind, but in a way that goes beyond our individual self and into the domain of the unitive consciousness.
A prophetic dream. When a person taps into this domain, it is possible to see into the future. Joseph T. Reilly of Mechanicville, NY, unfortunately knows all too well what this means. The father of twin sons, he had already been through the death of one of the twins, Josh, on October 2, 1998, due to a car crash. On Tuesday night, February 8, 2000, he had a dream. In his dream, his late son was at a family get-together. As the elder Reilly tells it:
There was a family get-together, and Josh was at it. I said to him, ‘Josh, what are you doing here?’ and he said ‘Dad, you can’t talk to me.’ I went to hug him, and he said, ‘Dad, you can’t touch me.’ I tried anyway, and my hands went right through him. Josh said to me, I can only talk to my brother.’
John Reilly wasn’t sure what to make of the dream. He found out two nights later, on February 10, when Josh’s twin brother, Joel, was killed in a snowmobile crash.
Besides the precognitive aspects, there was another non-local aspect. Josh died on Oct. 2, or 10-2. Joel died on Feb. 10, or 2-10. The twins also died two years apart, Josh in 1998, Joel in 2000. The elder Reilly understood the significance. “All the twos are there because they were twins. If you read inside the numbers, no matter how you break this down, Josh came for his brother and they’re one again” (DeMare, 2000, B1).
Remote viewing. The CIA spent over 20 years investigating non-local consciousness under the heading of remote, distant viewing, which is viewing unlimited by distance or time. They set up an institute, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), in Menlo Park, California, headed by physicist Russell Targ to test this possibility. The CIA was interested in getting any sort of edge in the Cold War, and wanted to see if it was possible for people to remotely see into the then-USSR’s top-secret facilities and other highly classified areas.
The CIA has only de-classified some of their files from their remote viewing experiments, but enough has been made public to allow Targ to co-write a recent book about it, called Miracles of Mind (1998). Targ reports in the book on the thousands of successful experiments they did. When Targ and colleagues reported their findings to Congress, to the House Committee on Intelligence Oversight, Congressman Charles Rose stated, “All I can say is that if the results were faked, our security system doesn’t work. What these people ‘saw’ was confirmed by aerial photography. There is no way it could have been faked” (Targ and Katra, 1998, p. 54).
Distant Healing. Targ’s daughter, Elisabeth Targ, has gone on in a similar non-local vein. A practicing psychiatrist, in 1998 she did a scientific experiment, using the proper protocol as expected by western science, with distant healing and AIDS patients. She was interested in seeing if AIDS patients could have a difference made in their health by healers who would be praying for them at a distance. Not once during the trials did the healers and patients meet. Targ was able to verify that the patients being prayed for fared better than a control group of AIDS patients whom were not prayed for (Sicher, Targ, Moore, and Smith, 1998, pp. 356-363).
An Integrated Spectrum
After Ecstasy, the Laundry
Non-local consciousness, the heart/mind paradigm, is the highest level of thinking. Yet it is not enough by itself. The fully integrated human uses the entire spectrum of paradigms. To exist at a pure transcendental level can make for a very difficult life for a person. As the Zen philosopher D.T. Suzuki once wrote (1956, p. 14):
We are all finite, we cannot live out of time and space…Salvation must be sought in the finite itself, there is nothing infinite apart from finite things; if you seek something transcendental, that will cut you off from this world of relativity, which is the same thing as the annihilation of yourself.
As is also said in Zen, “After ecstasy, the laundry.”
Meher Baba’s Disciples
A friend of mine recently made a pilgrimage to India to visit the ashram of his spiritual teacher, the late Meher Baba. While there he heard stories of how Meher Baba used to travel around India helping his most devoted followers. These were people who were so enthralled with the mystic experience that they gave no thought to their physical condition; thus they were in failing health, impoverished, suffering from starvation, etc.
Gurus and Free Will
It is not enough to pursue the spiritual; one must integrate it with the practical. Otherwise one will become like Meher Baba’s disciples, or like followers of other gurus. These followers, in the name of being a seeker of enlightenment, blindly follow a guru, for better or worse. And in being a follower, they lose their capacity of free will, to think for themselves. According to British psychiatrist Anthony Storr, gurus “need disciples to help them believe in their own revelations. Gurus tend to be intolerant of any kind of criticism, believing that anything less than total agreement is equivalent to hostility” (Neimark, 1998, p. 59).
When the guru at the Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, Massachusetts was questioned about his new policy of silence at all meals, a poster went up in the dining room: “Never wound the heart of the guru.” Most disciples signed their name to it (Neimark, 1998, p. 59). This very same