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First Contact: What If We Find Alien Life?

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First Contact: What If We Find Alien Life?
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

If we’re going to spend time and resources searching for extraterrestrial life, we should know what happens when we make alien contact.

Over two decades ago, the first alien planet was detected orbiting another sun. We’ve since spotted more exoplanets, but no discovery has caused a stir quite like the star KIC 8462852 (also known as Tabby’s Star). The odd nature of this alien solar system came to light in September 2015 when astronomers were using Kepler to look for dips in the star’s brightness caused by any orbiting planets passing across its face.

Given that stars are enormous, and planets much smaller by comparison, these fluctuations are usually tiny. Even a Jupiter-sized planet passing in front of a star like the Sun only results in a 1% change. And yet astronomers saw KIC 8462852’s brightness plummeting by up to 22%. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.

What rocketed the find into the news was the fact that some commentators suggested aliens might be responsible for the drop. Since it was too big to be caused by a single planet, some theorised huge mega structures created by an intelligent civilisation might be blotting out the star’s light. They imagined the dimming could be caused by vast banks of solar panels orbiting the star.

Of course there were other, far less fantastic explanations – some said it was likely that a huge swathe of comets was collectively blocking our view. Louisana State University’s Bradley Schaefer disagrees.

Are aliens building a structure around Tabby’s star? (© NASA/JPL-Caltech)

After poring over data, he found that the dimming has been going on for more than a century. His calculations show that nearly 650,000 giant comets would have had to pass by the planet during this time to create the recorded patterns, something he’s dubbed “completely implausible”.

The astronomers behind the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project pointed the radio dishes of the Allen Telescope Array at the star, just in case they could hear something. “We found no indication of an extraterrestrial civilisation at the other end of the telescope,” says SETI’s Douglas Vakoch.

If KIC 8462852 turns out to be a dead end, it’ll be the latest in a line of blanks. Ever since astronomer Frank Drake undertook the first SETI experiment in 1960, we’ve detected no signals that we can definitively say are alien in origin. But that may be about to change.

A Bigger, Better Search For Alien Life

In summer 2015, the late Stephen Hawking and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner launched Breakthrough Listen, a 10-year, $100m (£66.5m) project billed as the biggest scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life, which kicked off in February 2016.

Utilising two of the biggest radio telescopes on the planet – the 100m Green Bank Telescope in the US and the 64m Parkes Telescope in Australia – it’ll be more than 50 times as sensitive as previous searches and will cover 10 times more of the sky. It will also listen over a frequency range five times greater than before and will scan through them 100 times as fast. It will eavesdrop on the million closest stars and 100 nearest galaxies for any sniff of civilisation. The search will be sensitive enough to pick up the equivalent of aircraft radar on any of the 1,000 closest stars to Earth.

Along with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, the pair also announced Project Starshot, which will send tiny rockets to search for habitable planets in Alpha Centauri, our nearest solar system.

The fact that Milner is prepared to spend such a vast sum on hunting for aliens shows just how far we’ve come. We now live in the era of exoplanet astronomy, with more than 4,000 confirmed alien worlds beyond the Galaxy. From what we’ve found so far, astronomers estimate there could be 60 billion potentially habitable planets in our Milky Way.

A famous equation formulated by Frank Drake – the Drake Equation – suggests some of them may host to intelligent life. That’s a rich seam to mine. “The search doesn’t appear as futile as in the past,” says the University of Portsmouth’s Bob Nichol, a member of the UK SETI Research Network.

As well as searching for radio signals, they will also look out for laser transmissions. But with all this excitement about detecting future alien signals, what will we do if we find something?

Confirming First Contact

Should we pick up an alien signal, the first hurdle to leap is being able to show definitively that it doesn’t come from anything else.

“To start with, you’d have to put a low probability on it being alien,” says the University of St Andrews’ Duncan Forgan. Once other possibilities have been ruled out, he believes there are important checks that must be carried out. “The first is whether it’s reproducible,” he says.

If a signal is just a one-off then it’s hard to tell anything about it. This is well illustrated by the Wow! signal heard in August 1977. The intense burst of radio waves lasted for 72 seconds and was very close to the frequency that SETI researchers believe an alien civilisation might choose to communicate at. When astronomer Jerry Ehman first saw the signal on a printout from the Big Ear radio telescope in Ohio, he wrote ‘Wow!’ next to it in red ink.

But despite various efforts since, no repeat signal has ever been heard coming from that part of the sky. If a repeat is found, you can confirm it is coming from another planet by the way that planet’s motion affects the signal. “There should be a measurable shift in its spectrum due to the velocity of the planet around the star compared to us,” says Forgan.

The Wow! signal was picked up by the Big Ear telescope in Ohio in August 1977, but no similar signal has been detected since (© Getty Images)

If the discoverer(s) of the signal cannot find anything to rule out aliens, they’ll then throw it open to others teams of astronomers who will do their best to prove it isn’t from ET. “Any suspected signal would become the subject of extreme scrutiny,” says Forgan.

If extraterrestrial technology remains the most plausible explanation then, according to the official ETI Signal Detection protocol, that information should be passed to the UN Secretary General as well as a host of other international organisations. The frequency at which the signal was heard will be protected to keep that channel free from any other radio clutter, and no reply is to be sent until an international consensus on the matter has been reached.

Details of the discovery will be spread rapidly to the general population through the usual media channels, and the person or persons who discovered the signal will tell the world themselves.

It is all well and good confirming an artificial signal from an alien race elsewhere in the cosmos, but if it is a deliberate message rather some eavesdropped technological hum, how will we know what it says? After all, they are unlikely to be fluent in any Earth language. But civilisations within a few tens of light-years of Earth would have received a few decades’ worth of radio signals from Earth, so perhaps they could package up their message in a way they know we’d understand.

Alternatively, it’s been suggested that mathematics might be the language of choice for interstellar chit-chat. Initial contact could be made by beaming out a radio message encoding the list of prime numbers or the Fibonacci sequence. Once both sides know they both speak the same language – maths – you could use binary numbers to send more detailed messages such as pictures. So we’d search any potential message for mathematical structure.

Should We Call Back?

If we do find alien life and start up a conversation, what impact would that have on the wider population? One insight comes from a 1999 survey by The Roper Organization on behalf of the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS). When asked how they would cope psychologically with confirmed news of an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation, 32% of respondents said they were “fully prepared to handle it” and 17% said they would “rethink their place in the Universe”.

However, when asked how they thought others would respond, 25% said “most people would totally freak out and panic” and 10% said most others would “act irrationally and become dangerous to others”.

“Much would depend on the contents of the message,” says Forgan. Clearly, detecting the existence of advanced alien technology on a far distant planet is different from an aggressive message threatening imminent invasion. A 1997 survey found that 84% of respondents believed aliens would turn out to be friendly rather than hostile.

Perhaps we can learn something about our reaction to extraterrestrial aggression from Orson Welles’ famous War Of The Worlds broadcast in 1938. The radio version of the HG Wells story was said to be so realistic that many people mistook it as factual and believed aliens were really invading. While reports of mass hysteria were overblown, the same cannot be said when a Spanish version was broadcast in Ecuador in 1949. Crazed crowds took to the streets and at least six people ended up dead.

Should the message not threaten imminent invasion, the thorniest question we’d have to confront is whether or not to send a return message. It’s a topic that currently divides astronomers.

“I was recently at a meeting of UK SETI scientists and there was a quick straw poll. The room was split exactly in half,” says Forgan. He doesn’t believe we should be sending out any kind of deliberate message into space. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to speak to someone when you have no idea who they are,” he says. “I’m not convinced we should be advertising the human race at this point in our existence.”

This is a particular issue if we’ve just eavesdropped on another civilisation without them explicitly sending us a message. They might have no idea of our existence. This hasn’t stopped astronomers before, however. The Arecibo message, for example, was beamed towards the star cluster M13 in 1974. It contained fairly intimate details of who we are and where we can be found.

Now that our search for extraterrestrial intelligence is about to move up a level thanks to Breakthrough Listen, these are questions we are going to have to grapple with properly. There may be rules for how scientists should deal with any suspected signal; what the rest of us should do and how we’re going to feel if that day ever comes is anyone’s guess. But it’s certainly an exciting time to be a citizen of the cosmos.

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Awareness

Losing Identity To The Hive Mind

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Photo Credit: Waking Times

Rosanne LindsayGuest Writer

“Rights mean you have a right to your life. You have a right to your liberty, and you should have a right to keep the fruits of your labor….I, in a way, don’t like to use those terms: gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, religious rights. There’s only one type of right. It’s the right to your liberty.” ― Ron Paul

Imagine a future with compulsory euthanasia. One day the government declares, “Let’s end global warming by cutting down on the number of old people.” And the citizenry would bow down to forced euthanasia because they are of one mind in the belief that they must do their duty in service to their country and “for the greater good.”

Sound crazy? Cultish?

This extreme scenario defines the conditions of the Hive Mind, a collective identity in which every decision you make is a committee act. Group think is cohesive intelligence over individual intellect, a super organism. Nobody wins and nobody loses. Everyone is the same. Everyone is dependent. Everything is provided by the hive.

The hive mind plays out in hive society as groups who petition the State for rights: gay rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, a Parents Bill of Rights. People beg the State for permission without realizing the State can neither grant nor abolish ANY rights. Rights cannot be transferred from one person to another; they are “inalienable.” Rights come from “nature’s God” not from the State. States can only grant privileges that are abolished, amended, modified or expanded at the whim of the State.

The most basic Right, that of private property, begins with the self. You “own” your body and soul.  A refusal to recognize this simple truth translates into the abolition of all private property, by extension. In an era of mandates, our foundational mission must be one of power – the Right to choose and the right to object to mandates.

Values vs. Morals; Privileges vs. Rights

Privileges and Rights can be understood in the same way as values and morals. A value is a subjective desire.  A moral is an objective truth.

The subtle difference? Values are found in a Democracy where the majority rules. Morals are found in a constitutional democratic Republic where the individual is protected.

Morals are the basis for The Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. These documents are metaphorical shields to protect individual rights from oppressive forces whose goal is to abolish them.

Politics is a value-based system in a game of “divide and conquer.” The debate of “pro” vs. “anti” are value judgments that serve to divide, distract and invalidate morals. The morality of right and wrong, truth and justice, gets lost in the shuffle. For instance, when “pro-choice” liberals claim to be “pro-vaccine mandate,” the freedom to choose is abolished. When debate is bogged down in the “science” of vaccines, it is a diversion from the real issue of human rights. The core issue is about freedom not science. Politicians purposely object to legislating morality in favour of advancing values. Are they not legislating to abolish morality?

According to Karl Marx, the great enemy of humanity is morality. In a society with Collectivist and Marxist tendencies that show up as “Liberalism,” the mindset is “for the good of all.” Discussions or morals are naturally suppressed.

“The society of the future is one in which the moral distinctions … have all dissolved. We are moving into a Communist world, into the world that Marx wanted without knowing it and without having the kind of revolution that Marx predicted and thought was necessary.” – Harry Jaffa, author A New Birth Of Freedom

In a honeybee Democracy, mandates do not seek to suspend Rights but to abolish them. What kind of “value” is advanced by the abolition of a Right? If the religious exemption is abolished by the vaccine mandate, is the abolition of religion next? Are those acceptable values – to abolish Rights?

“A colony of honeybees is far more than an aggregation of individuals, it is a composite being that functions as an integrated whole.” – David Dobbs, Science, 2011

Governments twist nature to suppress individual power through Scientism. Scientism is not science but religion. It claims to be the only source of real knowledge.  Reason and logic over creativity, memory, and imagination. Scientism creates “Vaccine Science” or “Climate Change Science” as the underlying philosophy that dictates societal norms. Question the science and be demonized. True science asks the questions. Science is debatable, never “settled.”

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.” – Edward Bernays

Social Engineering

How did humans become a swarm of bees? Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations, wrote the book Propaganda in 1928. He believed that “if people are to live together as a smoothly functioning society, then controlling what people think must be engineered.” Bernays suggested that people are followers. He banked on how vulnerable the human mind could be, and used emotions to control the “stock” by keeping them distracted on trivial events.

Social engineers mold public opinion and influence popular attitudes to set society’s norms. These norms are subsidized by government and then carried out by the population who plays its role as victim. These are psychological operations, or PSYOPS. The example of one nation (e.g., America) then becomes the mold to homogenize the rest of the world and standardize the laws on a global scale. Social engineering convinces us to follow the trends: what sports to watch, what fashions to wear, how to style hair (i.e., the bob).

Organized chaos was Bernays’ idea on how order is engineered through the creation of chaos or ordo ab chao. This builds on the Hegelian Dialectic, or Problem>Reaction>Solution. In the U.S. how the people behind-the-scenes mold public opinion is “Public Relations.” The result is that the individual has literally lost his mind and his ability to think critically. Under the system, the plasticity of the mind becomes fixed. Cognitive Dissonance sets in. Even in light of new information, the mind remains rigid, stuck in a value system. Unless the individual regains the POWER to control his mind and body, and regain his RIGHTS…. the struggle will not end at vaccine mandates.

Property Of The State

Agnes George DeMille, choreographer and granddaughter of George DeMille, the author of “Progress and Poverty,” wrote about our current state in 1997:

“This clown civilization is ours. We chose this of our own free will, in our own free democracy, with all the means to legislate intelligently readily at hand. We chose this because it suited a few people to have us do so. They counted on our mental indolence and we freely and obediently conformed. We chose not to think.”

On the heels of the vaccine mandate (SB277) in California, the proposed law SB-18 The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth would remove gun rights, home schooling, parental rights, and health freedom all in one law. From where does this language come? From the UNCRC, an International treaty! Have Americans been led and misled so easily to their doom by a honeycomb Matrix where no individual in government is accountable?

The Declaration of Independence appeals to the Laws of Nature and nature’s God. It reminds us that Life, Liberty, and Property = your Body, Soul, and Self. Liberty prevents any government body from forcing vaccines or removing a child against an individual’s will and consent. The Declaration of Independence connects us to our divinity and reminds us that the right to self-defence is a basic human right. Nature shows us that in a true bee colony “each one [is] an alert individual making tours of inspection looking for things to do and acting on her own to serve the community.”

Marching For Rights

In America, the act of marching for State-granted Rights is an exercise in futility and self-defeating. Citizens are the property of the State. Citizen = property. Property has no rights. When the masses beg for rights as one mind, it is by design, to subvert individual rights. Imagine if specific laws were required to grant every individual and collective interest in society. That’s exactly what we have. Where does it end? If someone or some group is purposely or erroneously left out, are their Rights non- existent?

Rights are inborn. To hand over inherent rights to an all-powerful government captured by corporations (i.e., Fascism) is where we live today. Marxism socializes people through the school system to think in a way that justifies inequality. Children learn to accept there will always be someone in authority who they must obey – the Master-Slave dynamic. The way to assert rights is to remove the group banners and march together for One Law for All. Human Rights.

Technocracy Rising

This Brave New World we face is the Technocracy movement, born in the 1930s to replace Capitalism. Technocracy is a totalitarian dictatorship that uses Marxism as a stepping-stone and scientism as the science of social engineering. Technocracy is economic totalitarianism (TPP, NSA, IMF), set up through the political structure (the World Bank president is appointed by the U.S. President) to replace the economic system on a global level. Where do you think Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, got his inspiration in 1932? 

Patrick Wood, blacklisted author of Technocracy Rising, says the coming Technotronic Era is a controlled society managed by an elite group – think Trilateral Commission. Total control means total surveillance, from smart meters to smart phones, to smart TVs that listen to your every word. Congress is eventually neutered and rendered irrelevant since they don’t understand the technology they attempt to govern. Reflexive Law replaces “Rule of Law.” Under Reflexive Law, “there is no actual legal process at all, but rather a jawboning process that cons actors into compliance.” Under this globalist paradigm, the Constitution is out, and property rights are gone. We are back to the feudal ages, “for the good of the people,” of course. We are back to 1775 before America became a nation when Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.

Have we been deceived? Dumbed down? Duped? Have we allowed our freedoms to disappear through our desire to follow the crowd? If so, what do we do about it? If we fail to understand history, are we doomed to repeat it? Now that dots are being connected, how do we extract ourselves from falling further into the abyss?

Reclaiming Identity

Fortunately, no one group of politicians, scientists, priests, or Technocrats can determine the needs of an individual without suppressing morality, God, Nature, and humanity in the process. No one group of people can deny the nature of how humans and the Earth regulate and sustain themselves on a daily basis. The individual is the value in any group success.

Technology is a blessing. But technology, like the State, serves us. Not the other way around. Are we humans or insects?  Do we own our own thoughts and beliefs, or are our minds the property of the hive? Can we revert back to our humanity, through nature, to connect to our true selves, the ones who came into this world alone, and the ones who will leave this world alone?

As Americans, we must take back the language, take back our morality, and reclaim our true identities. We must reject Technocracy, and be ready to say NO when freedoms are restricted. We can withdraw consent when new laws clump us together as a swarm. We can choose to come together in communities where we have influence. Clean house from the ground up in our local governments. The time for action is now.

About the Author

Rosanne Lindsay is a writer, blogger, and Naturopathic healer. She is the author of two books, The Nature of Healing: Heal the Body, Heal the Planet, and her story of thyroid disease reversal: Free Your Voice, Heal Your Thyroid, Reverse Thyroid Disease Naturally.

Find her at Nature of Healing on Facebook.

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Hypnotic Healing & The Mysterious Relationship Between Mind & Body

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Hypnotic Healing & The Mysterious Relationship Between Mind & Body
Photo Credit: Waking Times

Steve Taylor, Ph.D.Guest Writer

In the 1840s, a Scottish doctor living in India named James Esdaile was frequently visited by men with enormous tumours (weighing up to 45 kg) in the scrotum, caused by mosquito bites. The operation to remove them was so painful that men would often put it off for years, only having it as a last resort.

Esdaile had read about hypnotism (or mesmerism, as he referred to it) and decided to try the technique as a way of relaxing patients, so that they would agree to have the operation.

To his surprise, he found that not only did the patients feel relaxed, but they also didn’t feel any pain during the operations. In other words, hypnosis had somehow acted as a powerful anaesthetic. Esdaile reported that, in some cases, there was no pain or injury after the operation either, and that the healing process was faster. As he wrote, “less constitutional disturbance has followed than under ordinary circumstances. There has not been a death among the cases operated on.”

Word began to spread about this amazing surgeon who could remove the massive tumours in 20 minutes without pain or after effects, and soon patients began to flock to Esdaile’s hospital near Calcutta. Esdaile began to use hypnotism in other procedures too, including eye surgery, the removal of tonsils, breast tumours, and childbirth. Esdaile was sure that it wasn’t a matter of his patients pretending (to themselves and/or to him) that they weren’t feeling any pain — he noted that, in addition to a lack of writhing and moaning, patients didn’t display physiological signs of pain such as changes to pulse rate and eye pupils.

At the time Esdaile was practising, mortality rates for operations were massive: a staggering 50% of patients died during or after them. But in 161 recorded cases of Esdaile’s operations, the mortality rate was only 5%. The reasons for this aren’t clear. Esdaile himself believed it was due to “vital mesmeric fluids” passing from him to the patient, which stimulated the healing process. However, it was probably related to reduced loss of blood, and perhaps an activation of the same self-healing abilities that occur with a placebo.

The Hypnotic State

The hypnotic state is still mysterious — there is no clear explanation of what happens when a person becomes hypnotised, or how the state is different from normal consciousness. But the essential aspect seems to be that, under hypnosis, the normal conscious self becomes immobilised. Normal conscious functions such as volition and control are taken over by the hypnotist. And with the conscious self in abeyance, the hypnotist appears to have direct access to the person’s subconscious mind.

Certainly, one of the most striking aspects of hypnosis is the powerful influence of the mind (via the hypnotist’s suggestions) over the functioning of the body.  Esdaile was by no means the only physician to use hypnosis, but from the mid-nineteenth century, the practice was superseded by the use of chemical anaesthetics. But there were still some areas of medicine where the practice continued — dentistry, in particular. At the turn of the 20th century, hypnosis was dentists’ main method of pain management, and it became almost universal for dentists during the First and Second World Wars, when chemical anaesthetics were scarce and facial trauma was common. Even now, some dentists still use hypnosis, especially in cases where a person’s medical history precludes the use of an anaesthetic.

Recent research with patients who had teeth extracted under hypnosis showed that “hypnotic-focused analgesia” can increase pain thresholds by up to 220%. (1) This research also found that 93% of patients experienced reduced postoperative pain and haemorrhage. (This links to Esdaile’s finding that mortality rates decreased very sharply as a result of his use of hypnosis. Hypnosis can reduce blood loss and haemorrhage.)

Beyond its analgesic properties, there is a great deal of evidence that hypnotism can have a powerful healing effect. During the early to mid-nineteenth century, the technique was used by physicians as a treatment and found to be effective against conditions such as epilepsy, neuralgia, and rheumatism. However, hypnosis appears to be particularly effective with skin conditions. In highly suggestible people, hypnosis has been used to rapidly heal wounds and burns, to make warts and blisters disappear and to control the bleeding of haemophiliacs. Conversely, highly suggestible people may produce blisters or burn marks, if they are told by a hypnotist that their skin has been burnt, or if they are blindfolded and the hypnotist pretends to touch them with a red hot poker or another object. (2)

Explaining Healing Under Hypnosis

Even though the effects of hypnosis are unexplained, it seems likely that the analgesic and healing properties of the state involve similar processes to the placebo effect. Research has made it very clear that the placebo effect isn’t just about patients believing that their conditions have improved. Real physiological and neurological changes take place; genuine healing occurs. Recent research (most notably by Dr. Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School) has found that placebos can have a significant effect even when people know they are taking them.

Both the placebo effect and hypnosis suggest that we have a good deal more influence on our physiological functioning than we usually realise. Our beliefs and intentions seem to be able to activate innate self-regulating and even self-healing powers. A hypnotist simply creates the conditions under which these powers can be activated.

One of the most mysterious aspects is why we don’t have access to these self-regulating powers in our normal conscious state. We can’t simply say to ourselves, “Okay, I’m going to make myself numb to pain” or “I’m going to use my mind’s power over the body to improve the symptoms of my rheumatism or back pain.” We can only use these abilities unconsciously, through the intervention of a doctor of a hypnotist.

For me though, perhaps the most important implication of the regulating and healing effects of hypnosis (and also the placebo effect) are what they suggest about the relationship between the mind and the body. In modern materialistic science, the mind is usually seen as a kind of “shadow” of the brain. Mental activity is a product of — and is equivalent to — brain activity. All mental states can be reduced to brain states.

However, if the mind is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, the powerful physiological effects of hypnosis and the placebo effect don’t make any sense. How could an epiphenomenon bring about such powerful changes to the primary thing that it’s a by-product of? How can a shadow change the object that it’s the shadow of? To use a different metaphor, it would be equivalent to suggesting that the images on the screen of a computer can change the software of the computer.

In other words, hypnosis and the placebo effect (and similar phenomena such as psychosomatic illness and psychogenesis, when mental intention generates illness) suggest that the mind is not just an epiphenomenon of the brain. In fact, since mental intentions (either our own or a hypnotist’s) can bring about such powerful changes to the body, it seems likely that mind is more fundamental than the material stuff of our bodies.

I believe that our culture urgently needs to adopt a “post-materialist” model of reality, which includes the principle that consciousness or mind is not by-products but primary qualities of the world. One possibility is panpsychism, which suggests that consciousness is an intrinsic property of all material particles. Another is what I call “panspiritism” which suggests that the primary reality of the universe is a “fundamental consciousness” (or spirit) that pervades all space and all material forms. (See my bookSpiritual Science for more details.)

Such post-materialist perspectives are the only hope of understanding rogue phenomena such as hypnotic healing and the placebo effect.

About the Author

Steve Taylor Ph.D is a senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. He is the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds and The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era.

Steve’s books have been published in 16 languages and his research has appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Transpersonal Psychology Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, as well as the popular media in the UK, including on BBC World TV, The Guardian, and The Independent.

References

(1) Facco, E. et al. (2011) Effects of Hypnotic Focused Analgesia on Dental Pain Threshold. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis. 59 (4), 454–68.

(2) Kelly, E. F. et al. (2007). Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Awareness

Pop Spirit – The Commodification Of Spirituality & Simulated Desires

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Pop Spirit – The Commodification Of Spirituality & Simulated Desires
Photo Credit: Waking Times

Kingsley L. DennisGuest Writer

spɪrɪt/

noun

the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character.

the prevailing or typical quality, mood, or attitude of a person, group, or period of time.

“A moment of enlightenment is of no use to someone who needs a good week of it.”  ~Idries Shah

We may need more than a week of enlightenment, yet in our modern cultures all we get are bite-sized Youtube-compatible fleeting moments. The prevailing mood of our times is one where the ‘spirit’ is like the radio-friendly three-minute pop song. It is a digestible burst that we can chew on without it giving us indigestion. We have literally thousands of online videos showing us how to improve almost every aspect of our lives by breathing, body postures, mental exercises, visualizations, and the good old self-to-mirror pep talks. We are told that we ‘create our own reality,’ despite the obvious fact that in many countries we have accepted sociopaths in power – or perhaps we voted them into office? If that is our reality, then what does it say about ourselves – that most of us are latent sociopaths with a hidden agenda for inflicting suffering upon others? If this is creating our own reality, then most of us must also be secretly longing for therapy.

It seems that the sublime has become lost or distorted within the grotesque spectacle of the spirit. That is, aspects of our soul nature have become commoditized and watered down so that they are shards or filaments of their real glory. And modern cultures worship these shards as if the fleeting reflections that fall from them are profound insights. Totems once considered sacred are splashed across social media and shared as if spreading them brings us amplified gratification. Phrases of some truth are gobbled rapidly as we scroll down the various quote-images that fill our media feeds. We breakfast on these handy spirit pop-tarts; yet we hardly have time to consume their words of wisdom. We yearn only for the quick fix, the morning shot of ‘feel good’ wisdom packaged with a pleasing image, be it nirvana, Samadhi, or some surreal bliss. Colourful figures in lotus positions with flowers blossoming from their chakras adorn our virtual walls and our desktops; we have their presence programmed as our screen images. Transcendence comes through the third eye as it sits in the center of the forehead awaiting patiently its activation through social-media triggers. And if the colourful chakras in the lotus position don’t get you, then there are countless videos of cute cats to make you go all fluffy and tingly inside. Whilst serious videos online only receive moderate viewing figures, the ones of cat compilations or a cute cat trying to do yoga will get in excess of ten million hits.

Popular cultures the world over have become saccharine playgrounds where fads and aspartame-coated famous-wannabes parade and trot like peacocks. We are in danger of becoming submerged in the sickly successes of such pop cultures, where the spirit is exposed as a short-cut trip to enlightenment. Of course, there is also ample room for those parodies that make light fun of such pseudo-spirit pretensions. And there are many of these humorous parodies out there in the world too. Thankfully they can make us laugh at the things we take so seriously.

Searching Where The Light Is

You may think that staring into a mirror, growling to yourself and saying, ‘You are a lion, rarrh!’ is sort of weird, in a surreal, onanistic sort of way. But we’ve been told to do it, or something similar, in a myriad of books on how to develop the spiritual self. We’ve also been urged to call out to the universe and order what we want to arrive in our lives, naming it as ‘cosmic ordering’ (with Amazon-style delivery). It’s all part of the new quantum reality we live in, or so we are told by ‘experts’ in the quantum field (which is more often people who have taught themselves Life Coaching from an online course). And yet here there is the question of what I term the ‘Quantum Dilemma’ – the understanding that our reality is energy-based and responsive to observation (the observer effect) should have torn down our walls of reality-construction. And yet instead what we got were new-agey fluff ball books on the likes of ‘quantum-ordering’ and how to ask the cosmos for our own riches and fantasized lifestyles. We know there is something strange going on over there in the dark (dark energy, dark matter) but we don’t truly wish to look for it as it’s easier to stay in the mainstream light. There’s a story on this from the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, and it goes like this:

“Someone saw Nasrudin searching for something on the ground. 

‘What have you lost, Mulla?’ he asked. 

‘My key,’ said the Mulla. So they both went down on their knees and looked for it. 

After a time the other man asked: ‘Where exactly did you drop it?’ 

‘In my own house.’ 

‘Then why are you looking here?’ 

‘There is more light here than inside my own house.’1

Inside of our own house is often where we choose not to look. It is too dark, and the discoveries, should they come, are bound to be too close to home – quite literally! Perhaps it would help us if we adorned the house a little. Maybe a talisman here, a crystal there, or any other number of paid-for objects and trinkets that have been imported from elsewhere and now peddled in western markets and online stores.

What is less well-known is the concept that spiritual practices that were once legitimate can lose their functionality if they are taken out of their original context of time and place. Then, even worse, is when such precise tools are used in a haphazard way, such as combining different elements into a new and modern groovy pop-spirit assemblage. When symbols of ‘higher learning’ become atrophied – meaning they are no longer adapted to the culture, the time, and the people – they often incite a ‘Pavlovian’ dog response on the part of the practitioners. Pop spirit emblems, symbols, and trinkets are easily transferred into fetish totems; such as the religion of Rastafari came to be symbolized by the trendy poster of Bob Marley smoking a fat reefa that was sticky-taped onto tens of thousands of student’s bedsit walls. The two things are just not the same: emotional totems do not constitute the real thing. Popular spirituality – today’s pop spirit – has become its own marketplace in the modern world. An old saying comes to mind here – The bird which knows not of sweet water has his beak in salt water all the year.

The pop spirit marketplace is hot – it offers exorbitant choice in the belief that more is good. This encourages some people to take, experiment, taste, and dabble with a rag-bag bunch of spiritual goodies in the hope that the resulting fusion will develop their ‘essential self.’ Whilst there are sincere and genuine developmental tools and practices in the world, the online social media-sphere becomes the window-displays for attractive quotations, phrases, and slogans that are hungrily consumed by a fast-paced crowd. It is easier to ‘like’ and ‘share’ a spiritual tool these days than to consider its use. Pop spirit, like breakfast pop tarts, are tastily consumable, although high in sugary fats. The modern media marketplace delivers an easy ‘on-demand’ lifestyle which is making us lazy and complacent in that we are used to receiving what we request; and either immediately or within 24-hours. Pop spirit fits nicely onto this conveyor belt of spiritual-supply goodies. There are plentiful videos of some young, attractive person telling us how to reach inside for that ‘something higher’ as they have a clean beach and rolling waves in the background. The commodity spirit tells us that having one hundred thousand subscribers is a good sign of the health of the soul. Spreading the Holy Spirit these days gets rated by rising subscribers and on how many people click the thumbs up.

The contemporary world of pop spirit is mainly a material one as it is based in terms of transaction. That is, those involved usually want to get something in exchange for something else. It’s a trade-off, and a commercial one at that. It is a form of seeking that has yet to learn the fundamentals. There is a story which tells of a spiritual seeker who after some time comes upon a spiritual master that she feels is genuine and whom she wishes to learn from. The seeker asks the master if he will accept her as a pupil.

“Why do you seek a spiritual path?’ asks the teacher. 

‘Because I wish to be a generous and virtuous person; I wish to be balanced, mindful, caring, and to be in service for humanity. This is my goal’ said the seeker. 

‘Well’, replied the teacher, ‘these are not goals on the spiritual path; these are the very basics of being human which we need before we even begin to learn’.

Pop spirit may make us feel better as we scroll down the feel-good quotes over breakfast – but will it last until lunch time? Our daily fix of uplifting quotes and video blessings may not be an antidote to the missing essentials. Contemporary societies with their surface acquisitions and quick-fix remedies may only be glossing over a very real emptiness.

The resurrection of novel, intriguing, and peripheral ideologies and trends in the online world has brought about a new celebration of ‘consumer curiosities’ that range from acquired happiness, sexual fetishes, to extra-terrestrials. With previous restraints of access now thawed out we are seeing a reappearance of these various spectacles that are being celebrated in whatever form online surfers desire. And desire, it seems, is highly sought after.

The Simulation Of Desire

There is no doubt that modern life, and its institutions, attempt to seduce us. We are breaking down as well as digitizing our boundaries of longing. Modern cultural landscapes and digital realms are de-territorializing the reach of the voyeur. There is now a shift in how desires are being redirected into new stimulated sensibilities and customized indulgences. We are being drawn into new modes of seduction – a form of ‘always available’ easy access. Seductions no longer tease us with waiting but can be instantaneously ‘streamed’ in the ever-present now. We are entering saturation point of the sexually explicit – online pornography raises its head as the new ‘desire of despair’ at the same time as children are being groomed, pedophiles are virtually gathering, and the beast within us licks its hideous lips.

Our modern cultures are more highly sexualized than ever as pornography has gone mainstream. Our advertising allures us with sexual imagery, references, and innuendoes. We are getting turned on from music videos that are filling up with scantily clad and booty-shaking extras that gyrate to the groove. Porn stars are making cameos in music videos and porn scenes are pantomimed and mimicked across the wide cultural scene. Fitness clubs offer pole-dancing and strip classes, and porn star memoirs are sold by top publishers and given table space in the big corporate bookshops. The once-peripheral world of pornography has now fused with the commercial mainstream. The moral bankruptcy of porn now shapes much of our western popular culture. Sex has always been big business. Sex sells better than bearded gurus and pop spirit combined. And many people see sex as a ticket to fame.

Sex tapes are famously ‘leaked’ online in a new twisted route to celebrity cultdom. These private performances are ‘accidentally’ made public in a bid for publicity and fame that represents a new and odd kind of fetishism, soaked in libidinal online viral flows. The simulation of desire is central to the digital realms, where arousal, demand, and creation co-exist. Almost any desires can be downloaded for instant gratification and viewer deflowering. Online pornography is a form of virus that absorbs endless amounts of libidinal energy that greases the cogs of digitized desire. These desires are soon to be projected into ‘false bodies’ as the robot sex toy becomes the next must-have gadget. Soon, Barbie will seem, well – quite timid. A recent report from futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson predicts that:

  • By 2030, most people will have some form of virtual sex as casually as they browse porn today.
  • By 2035 the majority of people will own sex toys that interact with virtual reality sex.
  • We will start to see some forms of robot sex appearing in high-income, very wealthy households as soon as 2025.
  • We will start to see robot sex overtaking human-human in 2050.2

Suddenly those closet-hidden doll inflatables will look like relics from the past. The experience of desire will soon be mediatized in a totally new way, with virtual reality and robot sex becoming a new and crowded playground. Yet this new experience is also likely to lead to an over-abundance of quick desire that may ultimately leave us unfulfilled – possibly leading to not sexual repression but rather a form of sexual depression. An over-plentiful supply of substitute sex may create a real wound of longing that a hyperreal world will be incapable, and unqualified, to cater for.

The spirit that dwells within us, that makes us a soulful species, is far away from the popular spirituality that invades our news feeds and social media. It is not a collection of colourful pixels or groovy 10-minute videos. I’m positive about the great future awaiting us, yet getting there entails moving beyond the immaturity of our commoditized desires.

About the Author

Kingsley L. Dennis is the author of Bardo Times: hyperreality, high-velocity, simulation, automation, mutation – a hoax?The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion, and Consciousnessand The Sacred Revival: Magic, Mind & Meaning in a Technological Age, available at Amazon.

Visit him on the web at http://www.kingsleydennis.com/.

End Notes

Shah, I. 1985. The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin. London: Octagon Press, p9.

 2 ‘By 2050, human-on-robot sex will be more common than human-on-human sex, says report,’ The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11898241/By-2050-human-on-robot-sex-will-be-more-common-than-human-on-human-sex-says-report.html, 29th September 2015 (accessed 20th June 2017)

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Awareness

Consciousness & Technology – 3 Mind Expanding Comparisons

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Consciousness & Technology – 3 Mind Expanding Comparisons
Photo Credit: www.ntegrallife.com

Dylan Charles, Guest Writer

Of all the pursuits of human kind, the understanding and exploration of consciousness offers the most likely opportunity for us to realize a civilization oriented towards cooperation, compassion, sustainability, and respect for life. Awakening to higher states of consciousness is the process by which a person, or a collective, can re-organize their identity from an ego-centric material orientation to a level of awareness that is capable of holding many perspectives.

Only with an evolution in awareness can we discover the ever-greater aspects of ourselves.

Consciousness might be described as the quality or state of awareness that human beings have of themselves, their environment and their surroundings, including sensation, thought, feeling and intuition. Consciousness functions on many levels, including the dream states, the sub-conscious mind, the ever-present observer mind, waking consciousness, and many meditative and spiritual states of awareness. It is dynamic, always changing throughout the day, and continuously evolving throughout life.

Everything is both a mirror and a reflection of something else, and the technological world that we’ve constructed is a glimpse at our inner universe. The way we use technology is analogous to how the mind interacts with nature, collects and stores sensory data, formulates ideas and adapts to surroundings. Humans first dominated nature by studying and imitating the workings of the natural world, and this process has evolved into a symbiotic relationship where the evolution of the species is heavily warped by our own invention. Now we are totally dependent on technology for survival and for any further evolution.

As such, it is enlightening to consider just how similar the human mind is to the computer, the core technology contributing to the evolution of human consciousness most by enabling communication to occur at synaptic speeds. Consider the following:

1. Consciousness Is The Operating System Of The Human Being

Similar to how an operating system (OS) is loaded onto a computer to command hardware, consciousness is the program which sets the parameters for human behavior and thought, instructing us on how to be ourselves. The user chooses programs to load onto the OS in order to support a wider possibility of functions for the device, and anything that we take in consciously or sub-consciously contributes to the quality of our presence of mind and overall awareness.

As a new-born, the mind is a relative blank disc and we are limited to the default capacities of an infant. Embarking on a journey of acquiring information and formulating it into ideas and behaviours, the baby begins to add programs to the OS. Observation and imitation are keen human instincts, and throughout life we are in a continual process of collecting sensory data and adapting to our environment, imitating that which we see. We adopt programs such as beliefs, mannerisms, and sometimes the habits of our family. We might spend decades in school, then maybe an entire lifetime gaining knowledge and experience, all of which is perpetually woven together to form our awareness and understanding of the world.

The amalgam of our experience becomes our consciousness at any moment, and we can add or subtract programs to this that work either for our benefit or detriment. Choosing to run positive programs enhances the quality of life and our resilience to the suffering in life.

2. Consciousness Can Be Programmed And Hacked, For Better Or For Worse

Consciousness is something that can be manipulated, for better or for worse. The consumption of information, media, advertisements, propaganda, ideas, and belief systems all influence human consciousness, shaping perceptual awareness of the world. Higher consciousness can be cultivated, but we are continuously targeted by external influences… hacked if you will.

Human consciousness is most often manipulated by directly appealing to our most base senses, fear and sex. Corporations use sexual imagery and innuendo to sell products by triggering the consciousness of desire and ego-fulfilment. Fear consciousness is the primary tool of the political and media elite for selling public policy, exerting control and preventing meaningful redress of grievances. The continuous shock of witnessing acts of violence in the media, the ever-impending threat of scarcity, and the insatiable need to aggrandize the ego are all social engineering tools used to limit mass consciousness to within the reptilian spectrum.

The mind can also be hacked by trickery, illusion, confusion, and delusion. We can directly program ourselves with hypnosis and other personal development tricks like neuro-linguistic programming, which are also techniques that can be used against us. Transcendent and transformative experiences, like those found in deep meditation or during an intense spiritual practice like yoga, can have profound and lasting positive effects on consciousness. Profound and enlightening states of altered consciousness can be induced with the ingestion of psycho-active plants, like psilocybin mushroomsayahuasca or iboga.

Without awareness of what is programming and affecting consciousness, we have no control over the impulses generated by consciousness.

3. At Its Core, Consciousness Is Energy

Just as a computer relies on a particular and steady frequency of power for its operation, a person is alive, with consciousness, only when the subtle energy of life is present within the body. Without this life force there is no life, and as devotees of the internal martial arts have discovered, this energy can be refined to produce optimal wellness and a deep connection to source.

At the molecular level, atoms are held together by electrical bonds, not physical bonds, and incredibly, the human body produces its own measurable light in the form of biophoton emissions. The electrical activity of the brain will harmonize when engaging in activities like meditation or yoga, and watching television or movies can cause many people in the same room to involuntarily synchronize brainwaves. Additionally, technological and environmental pollutants such as electro-magnetic radiationwater fluoridation and toxic foods can heavily impact consciousness by interfering with the body’s natural processes, even calcifying the pineal gland, the tiny gland attributed to linking the mind and body to the spirit.

Furthermore, the scientific understanding of the human mind has ballooned in recent years, and we can now interact with the brain as an electro-mechanical instrument, albeit one of extreme complexity. Remarkably, it is possible to capture the brain’s electrical output and interpret brainwaves for use as control signals for consumer devices, like mind-controlled word processors and toy helicopters. Virtual reality technologies trick the senses into believing that what they are receiving is an accurate interpretation of the world. As security and defence tools, the government, and agencies like DARPA are putting tremendous resources into the development of mind-reading, brain-syncing and scanning technologies which interpret and influence consciousness by intercepting and transmitting electrical information relevant to the human brain.

Supporting all life is an energetic system which makes consciousness happen. This is the source of life and technology.

Conclusion

As a mirror reflects its subject, examining the products of the human mind can reveal a deeper understanding of our world and our place in it, offering the opportunity for greater possibility. Underlying our thoughts and behavioural patterns is a programmable interface that can be a product of our intention or a way for others to access and control us. We live in a sea of influences on human consciousness, which must first be recognized in order to develop immunity to them. Consciousness and life are made possible by an ever-present, constant source of universal creative energy, which human beings can cultivate to reach even greater states of consciousness.

About the Author

Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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