Key To Success

What do you do when you come across a key to success in a book you're reading? You ponder over it. Since I read many books and come across many keys, I thought it would be fun to share the ideas that arise as I contemplate a key to success. Reading is not just about absorbing information, it's also about contemplating, allowing the ideas to blossom within, and nurturing a seed tossed in the rich soil of the inner garden.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

I got my Master's degree in psychotherapy more than a decade ago. Since then I've studied the human condition with fascination. Over the years, I've learned a singular lesson: your life does not work when you oppose your soul nature. If you want a magical life, you have to drop your inauthentic transactions with the world. You discover your own power when you spend time alone to figure out what you really love to do.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Awareness As A Portal To Flow

Awareness can be seen as a methodology, a plan for personal and professional achievement. It is a way to manage change.

Awareness arises when doing requires learning. In sports, for example. As you play your sport, you are not only acting it but learning about how to act. The more fluid
your actions, the more well-rehearsed your form, the better you will play it.

The absence of awareness is an ungraceful dance between experiencing yourself as both a subject and an object. This method makes skill enhancement a challenge. The challenge arises not because you are self-conscious, but because your self-consciousness makes you self-critical. What makes things even more confusing is having an observer add to your own inner dialogue with comments.

The result of all this criticism is not an improved performance, but a worse one.

Unfortunately, this is the way most people learn new skills. They fumble rather than flow. And the more they learn about how it should be done, the more even the fundamentals escape them.

Somehow, despite all of this, people do learn skills, and sometimes become very good
at something that they once used to be excruciatingly bad at. On the other hand, a lot of people settle for mediocrity or give up altogether.

Introduce awareness into this process of learning, as a substitute for self-criticism, and all the dynamics shift. What was painful becomes pleasurable; what was embarrassing becomes amusing; what was serious becomes playful; and what was rigid and stiff becomes pliable and creative.

Awareness is noticing, and not trying to fix something; it is getting into the feeling and the sensation of something with detachment. Balance, enjoyment, learning, and performance improvement happen by themselves.

The reason for the shift is because the attention is taken from the left hemisphere, which is verbally-oriented, to the right hemisphere, which can perceive patterns much more acutely.

Another way of looking at it is a transference of a critical inner parent to a playful inner child. A parent tends to correct. A child tends to explore.

While awareness, the cultivation of silent attention, is highly useful as a learning strategy for physical events from learning how to play an instrument to playing a sport, it can be used, equally well, for any skill, even mathematics, or art, or the ability to make a speech.

When you are doing something and just can't seem to get it, it is because, in a sense, you are not really in your body, but outside it, feeling disassociated. You are not focusing on what is happening, what an experience feels like. Instead you are focusing on ideas of what should be happening and you are looking at yourself in an unsympathetic way.

The emphasis on what you should do, ought to do, and eventually must do, is, to say the least, unnerving. Your expectation means you are in an imagined future time and the contradiction between where you are and where you want to be throws you off balance. In other words, neither your mind nor your body is processing the existing information. Rather, it is lost in a confused fantasy of future dexterity.

Awareness helps you to hone in on the desired pattern. It is motivation in motion.

One possible reason why the obvious idea of awareness may appear insightful is that awareness asks you to embrace the unknown and make it your ally. It asks you to be vulnerable. It seeks the wisdom of insecurity. Ironically, as you explore this possibility, you find it truly liberating.

Criticism, on the other hand, enforces the known. It is the struggle to embody the known and established theory of how something should be done. In other words, it makes the learning process a lot harder.

Profound learning happens when you learn through yourself.

Generally people are so disconnected from themselves that this feels weird.

The real gift of using awareness as a learning strategy is not learning more faster, but learning how to dance with the movement, falling into its flow, experiencing its inner dynamics and unifying with it completely. It is having a time out of time experience.

Sometimes, it is when you don't try hard that you succeed more easily.

Resource Box

Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Thinking Made Easy

Dr. Seuss created a funny little story about Mrs. McCave. She had 23 sons and she named them all Dave. Now when you ask, "Who Is Dave?" The question, under
normal circumstances, would lead to a normal answer. But if you were to ask her, it
would be baffling.

Similarly, if you ask "what is thinking?" you tend to baffle your listener.

This is because there is no singular way of thinking.

It has even been said that you can make people do almost anything, except think.

While this is supposed to be funny. It is also sad, in a way.

Because thinking is essential to evolution. Both your own and that of humanity as a whole.

It is also ironic, because all we appear to do all day is think.

Yet can this ceaseless stream of thoughts really be classified as thinking? After all, it seldom results in new ideas, new solutions, or a new way to grow.

From this we can assume that thinking is more than stream-of-consciousness thinking.

It is, in fact, a discipline.

Thinking is a strategic game. Most people try to think through things without a strategy.
This results in a completely muddled thought process. And it is this that makes thinking difficult, frustrating, and something most people avoid.

However, once you introduce strategy into your thinking, it actually becomes enjoyable, the frustration disappears, and surprising and often paradigm-shattering answers appear.

Here are the two most famous ways of thinking.

The first is visual thinking. This method was named Gedanken, which is the German word for thought. But really, the translation is more a thought experiment. In other words, imagine a scenario which examines a question.

Einstein was a champion at this way of thinking, although he did not invent it. By imagining riding on a beam of light, he got rid of the idea of an ether and created the Special Theory of Relativity.

Similarly, Nikola Tesla said that he could run a machine in his mind to see if it worked properly.

This method is powerful because it occurs at the alpha or theta level of consciousness.

Alpha waves (8 - 12 Hz) are seen when we are both alert and relaxed. These waves decrease with physical activity. Theta Waves are 4 - 8 Hz . We see these brain waves when we are falling asleep or just waking up and during the early stages of sleep.

Another method was that of Socrates, who would ask questions, get an answer, and turn that answer into a new question. In other words, he would create a chain reaction, and be
able to probe deep into moral and philosophical concepts. This method revolutionized the soldier-farmer culture of Athens to become one of the most brilliant cultures per population number in the history of the world.

This thinking, I believe, functioned at the gamma level (26-80 Hz), the brain waves associated with higher level thinking, problem solving, and interpretive consciousness.

Incidentally, the reason why stream-of-consciousness thinking does not result in much originality, is because it is usually at beta waves, (12-26 Hz) which is a high stress or anxious type of thinking and because it is unsystematic. Basically, your thoughts run around in loops.

Ironically, one of the reasons for a decline in thinking, is modern education, with it's emphasis on knowledge gathering, rather than interpretive thought. It is the result of an industrial age mentality, large numbers of people are taught the same thing similar to a factory that makes a large number of the same products. By stripping away individuality, it also does away with originality.

In education, today, with the emphasis on didactic teaching, thinking, in the sense of original and creative discovery, does not happen much. Usually, a teacher talks and a student listens and follows a reading assignment. The only feedback required of the student is to repeat back the ideas at some future time, and usually under conditions of a lot of fear and tension.

Because of the relative passivity of the student using this method, little is reflected upon and what has been memorized also soon fades away.

Besides the visual thinking method of artists and scientists and the questioning method of philosophers, another strategy of thinking has emerged, which, for want of a better name,
we will call creative thinking.

There are numerous methods of creative thinking, from brainstorming to lateral thinking to mind-mapping.

Here is one method that might prove helpful to you. This method is particularly good for completely baffling practical problems, in particular business or personal problems.

1. Write down everything about a difficult problem that bothers you. Blow off steam.

2. Write down all possible solutions. Do this until you feel you have exhausted every possible answer. The answers do not have to be original, just any answer. Also, don't repeat an answer.

3. Do something completely unrelated.

4. Out of the blue, you will suddenly know the best answers from step 2 or you may even come up with something new.

The reason this method works is because it causes a break in neuronal habituation. Initially, in step one, you exhaust all aspects of your stuck state. Then in step two, you exhaust all known or possible answers. In step three, you let your subconscious mind do all the work. Finally, in step four, it gives you an answer.

The reason thinking is important is that it helps you to transcend levels of difficulties and evolve as a human being much faster. If the thinking is original enough, it can even evolve a whole culture or humanity as a whole.

Resource Box

Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Techniques For Accelerating Personal Growth

The most fascinating theme in any movie is the transformation of the main character, who evolves from a lower state of awareness to a higher one. Although this theme is repeated with minor variations in one movie after another, people do not tire of it because it represents their own story.

The meaning of life may itself be entirely about personal growth. Enlightenment is the final vision, where you see everything in a whole new light, with the universe and your neighbors as part of a massive conspiracy of beauty, elegance, love, and wisdom.

Personal growth happens by default.

Life itself forces it to happen.

The more stimulating the environment, the more it challenges you to accelerate your personal growth.

Personal growth can be defined as the evolution of awareness, a journey from a narrow, dysfunction perspective to a broader, functional one. It is an expansion of perception.

The reason why it can be thought of as an evolutionary force is because it is the result of adaptation to a stressor. All problems are due to an error in perception; a challenge is posed by the environment for you to adapt or suffer the consequences of failure.

For example, a poor state of health is due to a physical challenge, a rocky relationship is due to an interaction challenge, and a scarcity of finances is due to an economic challenge.
The reason it is a challenge is because it threatens your sense of well-being, and failure to
respond in a more adaptive way is to experience the collapse of what you need.

In a nutshell, personal growth happens when your inner map of how the world works is incorrect. You discover that your perception is inaccurate because your experience is misaligned with your desire.

What is needed is more information, an upgrade of your inner map. New streets need to be drawn in, new paths need to be discovered.

Every problem is an evolutionary taunt.

For example, if you are being financially challenged, what is needed is a new model on how to earn more and manage your money better. A bill that you do not have the means to pay is a financial challenge.

Adaptation occurs when new information is learned. This information changes the structure of the challenge. The result of your mental upgrade about what works now
becomes your new model. Using the money example, new information may come in the form of learning how to make more money. This information is then available for you to respond to the world in a more functional way.

Life is constantly posing challenges like this and we are constantly learning how to adapt to these pressures. Each successfully resolved challenge is soon followed by another challenge at the next level. Each unsuccessfully resolved challenge results in your staying at your current level. It's called "feeling stuck" or "in a rut."

This is the process of personal growth.

The growth proceeds along two trajectories: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical growth is learning something new and the new knowledge then fashions a new reality. Our college years, with its academic challenges, is probably the time of the most accelerated personal growth. Similarly, starting a new business or raising a new family are all vertical growth experiences.

Horizontal growth is integrating this new information. You are adjusting to the changes stimulated by vertical growth.

Furthermore, this growth also advances on three levels: ego-centric, ethno-centric, and world-centric. Each is a developmental stage.

In the ego-centric stage, your focus is on improving your own personal experience. In the ethno-centric stage, your focus is on improving your group. This could be an ethnic group, a religious group, or a national group; in other words, any particular tribe that makes you feel that you are one of its members. In the world-centric stage, your focus is on improving things for everyone.

Each stage is not necessarily clearly delineated. The higher stage may incorporate some features of the lower stage. In addition, each stage is broken up into further developmental stages.

The more challenges you overcome, the more you evolve to inhabit a higher stage. In addition, each stage has sub-stages which have to be transcended.

Factoring in the idea of incarnation, most people may spend their whole life in only one sub-stage or may move through several sub-stages but not leave their main stage. Other people may evolve from one stage to another. A few, rare individuals move through all the stages. Those who hit the final sub-stage of the final stage are considered enlightened and do not need to stay on the karmic wheel.

These growth stages also apply to cultures and civilizations.

While growth happens by default; it can also be engineered, or artificially stimulated.

This process is called learning.

Throughout history, those who choose to be self-evolving, do it using two specific methods.

One is using the imagistic aspect of mind and the other is through the linguistic aspect of mind. One can, of course, use both aspects of mind. Usually, however, most people have a predominant and favorite method. It is similar to how most people make one hand more dominant than the other, while only a few are ambidextrous.

Using the imagistic method, or visual thinking, remarkable progress can be made.
Those with a scientific bent appear to favor this method. Kekule dropped off to sleep by a fireplace, had a dream about a snake swallowing its own tail, and developed the basis of all organic chemistry, the benzene ring. Einstein precipitated the biggest leap in Science since Newton by day dreaming about a train ride on a beam of light.

In terms of the Jungian model of the mind: this would incorporate intellect, intuition, feeling, and sensation. For example, Kekule had a dream, which includes intuition, emotion and a tactile sense. Upon awakening, he then used intellect to define the benzene ring.

This method of visual thinking is as powerful as the transition between Roman numerals and Arabic numerals. Using Roman numerals, for example, the mathematics needed to create String theory in Physics would have been impossible. Since, to date, String theory is neither empirical nor observable, it could not exist without mathematics. Considering that this may very well end up being a complete theory of everything, you will appreciate the value of the use of Arabic numerals.

Another method is the Socratic Method, which is about 2,300 years old.

The Socratic method is essentially asking and answering questions. Questions probe consciousness and stimulate a search for answers.

This method is not to be confused with the didactic teaching that is referred to as modern education.

The Socratic method was used during the era of Classical Greece and the Renaissance, two epochs that produced more highly intelligent people than has ever been known.

The reason these two methods are so powerful is because they disrupt "neuronal habituation" the phenomenon that with a constant signal, nerves and brain fall sleep.
Changing the stimulation causes the brain to start working in a new and unusual way.

Ironically, our current educational methods across the globe stimulate only a limited amount of personal growth because they result in the stabilization of signals, creating
neuronal habitation. Subjectively, people claim to fall asleep or drift into a day dream during a class session. They miss the lesson because the repeated signal created boredom and disassociation. It did not provoke them to move beyond passivity.

With these two methods, learning becomes interactive and stimulating, resulting in a quantum leap in personal growth.

You don't have to wait for all the right conditions before you can experience vertical growth; you can invite it to happen through choosing immersion in new, stimulating, life-affirming information.

Resource Box

Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Brief History Of Everything

I was wondering about how everything we know came together to be the way it is right now and what will happen to us as a species.

The story of everything started 15 billion years ago.

The universe, as we know it, was created by an enormous explosion of matter to create space-time. A fiery, dense universe started to inflate.

For three billion years, optically dense matter/energy decoupled and created an invisible universe.

It took another billion years for clusters of matter to form. As heavier nuclei synthesized they formed protogalaxies.

After more than 5 billion years after the big bang, galaxies formed. Later, new galaxies, more like our own, with heavier nuclei came into being.

Around the 10 billion year-mark, our solar system, with orbiting planets formed.

A billion years later, in the primordial oceans of earth, atoms combined to form macromolecules capable of self-reproduction and self-assembly. This was DNA, the basis of all life.

DNA is the alphabet of life. Two strands of a double helix are linked by pairs of bases. There are four bases: adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine. All living organisms are formed by these four bases.

DNA resembles a spiral staircase and the order of how the bases are arranged in it create a particular organism. This DNA assembles an organism around it and copies itself. This copying is not always accurate. In most cases, the new mutations result in those organisms dying out. In some cases, however, it increases the chances of the DNA surviving and becomes biological adaptation.

Around 3 million years ago, our first ancestors inhabited the earth. They became increasingly more sophisticated. From the first hominid to 8,000 B.C. was the Old Stone Age; from 8,000 B.C. to 6,000 B.C. was the Stone Age, and from 6,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C. was the New Stone Age. From 3,000 B.C. to 2, 000 B.C. was the Bronze Age. And from 2,000 B.C. to the time the Christian calendar begins was the Iron Age.

The last millennium covered the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. The most critical stages came after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages; the pestilence that spread from Asia all the way to Africa, the Black Death; and the two world wars, which has resulted in the new threat of nuclear proliferation.

Where will we go now?

The next 100 years will be the most critical. It is at this stage where the pressure of new changes will force themselves on us. Besides the obvious political and economic problems, there are new problems that threaten our survival as a species: nuclear proliferation, environmental disasters, the population explosion, and epidemics and famines.

One solution may be the creation of a world government because the problems will be too much for any one nation. Assuming that by sharing of resources, peace and stability is established and most of our critical problems are solved, there will still be an evolutionary thrust to push us to build civilizations under the sea and move towards space.
The reason for this is that the world population will be around 36 billion people at the end of the century if it continues at its current rate of 1.9 percent, which means that it doubles every 40 years.

This will result in the creation of a new species of human beings to cope with building and inhabiting the new environments. Failure to do this will mean that by the year 2600, people will be standing shoulder to shoulder and the earth will literally be red-hot because of electrical consumption.

Over the past 10,000 years, there has been no significant change in human DNA, but it may all change dramatically over the next 1000 years as genetic engineering works on creating improved human beings. It will probably start with plants and animals, with many restrictions against it being used on human beings, but someone will break the taboo and start creating human beings outside the womb. These human beings will not be restricted by the size of the birth canal and will grow bigger brains. Our current brains are 3 pounds. Future brains may be around 5 pounds. They will also probably be bigger and stronger than we are now.

Overall, the entire thrust of everything, from our perspective, has been the evolution of matter from nothing, then life forms from apparent random permutations, and then the evolution of one particular species until it took over the entire planet.

It's an amazing story.

Of course there are many missing links to it--

What happened before the big bang? What banged? How did the atoms necessary for life sort themselves out to create the macromolecule that defined all life? How did one creature create a superior brain and nervous system?

One thing is for sure: the future is not going to be anything like the past. The prevailing wisdom that there is nothing new under the sun is in for a shock.

Resource Box

Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Don't Wait! Celebrate!

We usually give ourselves permission to celebrate our fondest victory after we have achieved it. This is a perfectly logical and sensible way to behave--but it is all wrong!

The proof of the absurdity of this sequence is that your victories are probably few and far between and only the result of the most heroic effort.

Gedanken is a German word that means thoughts. It's what Einstein called his famous thought experiments. We are going to make our own Gedanken to show how modifying the standard rules of celebration affect the game of life.

Imagine you are the new coach of your local soccer team. You have 12 practice sessions to go before you meet the first team in the tournament. Unfortunately, the team you are playing against happen to be last year's champions. In addition, to make things worse, your team are last year's biggest losers. To put pressure on you, if your team doesn't win the tournament, you will get fired. Since you really, really need the job, because you have to keep your house from falling into foreclosure, you know you just have to win. In fact, the only reason you got this job in the first place is because no-one else was even willing to take on the job.

The only positive thing you can see right now is that you are being well-paid and the owner of the team has given you carte blanche to use any psychological or training procedure you like.

What are you going to do with this unrestricted power to act at your own discretion?

After your first practice game, you decide to celebrate a mock victory. Although your team is a bunch of losers, they are a congenial lot and really get into going ape wild in the locker room in mock celebration.

You do the same thing, week after week.

What is going to happen?

The pleasure of winning will become entrenched in their nervous system. Each practice of victory will bathe each team member's nervous system with an exhilarating rush of endorphins, enkephalins, catecholamines and serotonin to make them brighter. Their brain will respond to this stimulation and over time each brain will develop a more advanced neural network.

Besides the neurochemical transfiguration that is going on within them, they will also be increasing their vibrational levels and exciting the law of attraction to work in their favor.

In addition, they will train with more enthusiasm, enhance their skills sets, and work in a spirit of harmony.

The combination of neuro-stimulation, raising their vibrational levels, and the obvious expansion of skill and group coordination will drown at any vestiges of fear and doubt from their previous debacle and create a group consciousness of irresistible success.

When you unleash them during the first playoff, they will mow down the opposition, because that team will be complacent while yours will be highly motivated and empowered with well-honed skill sets.

Their first celebration in the locker room will be a highly-emotional experience as the realization of the cybernetic transposition between the past and the present experience sinks in.

This flow state will continue throughout the rest of the tournament and the probability of your winning it will be very high indeed.

Now how does this apply to you and your life?

Imagine that you are the head coach of your own sub-ego states. In the past, you have encountered defeat in achieving your desired goal. The team, in other words, is not in really good shape. However, through repeated mock celebrations, you will have completely routed out any opposition to victory.

You will attain your goal, whatever it is; no matter how many times you may have failed before.

In summary: a simulation of joy and a rehearsal of intended victory will create a completely new neuropsychological force in your life. When you practice the change you hope to see in your life, you will reach a point where it will be your experience.

Resource Box

Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Rise And Fall Of Curiosity

It is not really clear whether humanity developed intelligence because it was curious or its curiosity developed its intelligence. It could very well be a combination of both, with our natural genetic capacity for inquiry stimulating more complex and interconnected neural nets and bigger brains.

For a long time, psychologists believed that intelligence was fixed, but new evidence shows that the more we learn, the more neural connections are formed and the more we can learn.

The driving force behind all learning is curiosity, the desire to know, to explore, to experience new things.

A curious lesson about the implications of appreciating and withdrawing from curiosity occurred between 1405 and 1433, when the Ming government, under the foresighted Yongle Emperor decided to establish a Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean basin. He assigned Zheng He 317 ships, with 28,000 armed troops. This expedition awed the people of the coastlines, who were amazed by the nine-masted ships. These were the biggest ships ever known in the world, with a technology about 500 years ahead of its time.

During his first three voyages, Zheng He visited southeast Asia, India, and Ceylon, and on the next one, he traveled as far as East Africa. Liberally dispensing gifts of silk, porcelain, and other Chinese wonders, he also received amazing presents from his hosts.
The Chinese people learned much about other people, their customs, and their deities. Zheng He was also respectful. For example, in Ceylon, they erected monuments honoring Buddha, Allah, and Vishnu. They also astonished the people back home when they brought back "mythological animals" like the Zebra and the Giraffe.

Suddenly the world of the Chinese people expanded beyond belief, as did those of the people visited.

Zheng He himself was reported to be a remarkable man, who was rumored to be very tall and broad and walked like a tiger. Chinese scholars escorted him, drew nautical maps and wrote fabulous reports on all that was being discovered.

Then in 1424, the Yongle Emperor died and with him the curiosity aroused by the Chinese expeditions. His successor, the Hongxi Emperor, who reigned from 1424 to 1425 slowly eroded the popularity of the expeditions. He was followed by the Xuande Emperor, who permitted one last expedition, during which time Zheng He died and was buried at sea.

A huge surge of conservatism not only ended the expeditions, but the bureaucrats even went as far as to destroy all known records of the expeditions. The nautical charts were burned. The treasure ships sat in the harbors until they rotted away. And the technology of how to build such sophisticated ships gradually passed into oblivion.

Zheng He discovered many countries, including Sumatra, Malacca, Java, Ceylon, India, Persia, the Persian Gulf, Arabia, the Red Sea, Africa, and Taiwan. He brought back to China trophies and envoys from more than 30 kingdoms. His records and maps may even have shown the Americas, Antarctica, and the tip of Africa.

What killed China's exploration of the world? Chinese bureaucrats steeped in Neo-Confucianism thought that since China was obviously the greatest civilization in the world that they had nothing to gain from mixing with foreign people.

China became insular and the Western World, so far behind in technology and the learning arts began to catch up. Eventually, a few centuries later, by the time of the Opium Wars, the small island of Britain had enough technology to completely humiliate this giant country and seize its major ports.

And just as the decline of a whole civilization can be traced back to the eclipse of curiosity, even on an individual level, most people only enjoy a brief expedition into learning about new worlds. After their schooling years, most people settle into a routine of quiet desperation and fail to realize that they live in a world of wonder and mystery.

The wonders of learning are enormous; besides personal growth, there is a thrill to it that makes everything else pale in comparison. Here for example is the poetic euphoria felt by Zheng He:

"We have traversed more than 100,000 li (50,000 kilometers) of immense water spaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds day and night, continued their course (as rapidly) as a star, traversing those savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare…" (Tablet erected by Zhen He, Changle, Fujian, 1432.)

Conservative scholars at court, clinging to an outmoded philosophy, did not realize that
with the death of curiosity, they had also condemned the future of a great civilization. 100 years before Columbus opened up the Americas, China lost its chance to know and explore the world.

Without a sense of wonder, life is but a petty affair. Whenever a civilization, a country, an institution, or a person loses it, their world shrinks and entropy begins. Entrenched in the quotidian, life loses its luster, and the promise of what could be fades away like a dying sunset.

Resource Box

Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Will Our Collective Ignorance Kill Us?

With three pounds of matter, called the brain, the human race has gained complete dominion over all of life on this planet. It has discovered the raw power of steam and used it to create the industrial revolution. It has discovered the raw power of splitting the atom and used it to create its own nightmare. It has discovered how to prolong and improve human life and this will result in a population explosion, where the rate of the human race doubles every forty years. Ironically, the great gift of humankind, superlative intelligence, may be the cause of its demise.

The solution, paradoxically, is more intelligence. Intelligence has to move from the few to the many. Literally, a new race has to emerge to keep civilization, even earth life as a whole, alive past this century.

The analogy often used is that most people are asleep, while others, those who are noticing the collapse of the environment and the coming storm, are said to be awakening. What does this really mean?

Perhaps, it means that most people, stuck in habituated or conditioned thought, are not capable of rising to a place where they can contribute anything more than resistance to the idea of the change that needs to happen.

Another analogy might work better.

The Internet is an artificial global brain. Theoretically, it allows anyone to contact anyone else. Those who use this medium to learn and communicate are "online." They are part of the aggregate of humanity that can share a community.

The rest of the world, either due to lack of interest or insufficient economic resources, are living in a more local environment. They are said to be "offline." They only know and communicate based on immediate stimulation.

As you can imagine, there is a huge disparity between the two populations. Those online have any kind of information available to them literally at their fingertips. Those offline have very little information to work on. The result is a growing disparity between the human race. Those who are informed and those who are not.

Similarly, in regards to the human race, only a small number are even aware that the world as a whole is in jeopardy. They have a poor knowledge of history, and do not realize how fortunate humanity was to have survived the dictators and the escalation of raw military power that emerged in the past century. They also have a poor knowledge of science, and do not realize that there is enough raw power to blow up the world eleven times over. Finally, they have a poor knowledge of social issues, ranging from pollution to self-seeking political and economic organizations.

The reason that they do not have this knowledge is because they do not think it is important. In many cases, too, they may not have access to this knowledge. In the past, the general ignorance of the masses did not matter that much. This was because there was never such a pressing need to create worldwide consensus on many issues, there was never a pressing need to reorganize and reprioritize human interests, and there was never the open possibility of general ignorance becoming deadly.

While it is not necessary to become a savant; it is necessary to become more intelligent, which means less conditioned, less ill-informed, less self-oriented, and less apathetic. A critical mass of intelligent people is necessary before the tide turns. Compassion and genius will not flourish in an atmosphere of indifference and confusion.

How can we make the upgrading of intelligence an important agenda for human beings?

We can improve the quality of all our media presentations, from print media to Television to Radio to movies to be less focused on trivial entertainment and more on providing meaningful messages. We can upgrade the educational institutions all over the world, from the model that is currently operating, which is still based on the ideas of the industrial revolution. And we can take individual responsibility and try to read more, understand more, communicate more.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Heralds Of The Dawn, Explorers Of The Light

These groups, for the most part, fall into two classes, science and religion. (And those who seek to interpret and present the meanings of these two groups are the artists.)

Many religions have two branches. There is the exoteric branch, where the basic ideas and the story of its founders and the various histories are recorded. Here too is the big book, the manual, that describes how to follow its teachings. The new comer is fascinated by it, believing it to be the book of truth, where the mystery of all creation is finally unveiled. The veteran either accepts the big book as it is or makes a few fresh interpretations. Those who belong to the exoteric group are large in number.

But many long-established religions also have a secret branch, where the interpretation is wholly different, more insightful, and often informed by experiences of personal revelation. This is the esoteric branch. This group is seldom organized. If it is, then you can only join through a personal invitation. The qualifications to join are not clear and what you may learn may be startlingly different from what is taught in the main religion. This group is often secretive because the main branch may often consider the new ideas heresy. As you can imagine, the members of this group are few in number.

In Judaism, the esoteric branch were the Essenes. In Christianity, the esoteric branch were the Gnostics. And in Islam, the esoteric branch were the Sufis. Those who belonged to the esoteric branch were called mystics. Whether these groups still exist today, of course, is a whole other discussion. Besides these groups, there have been many other schools of mysticism.

In the 20th century, as both knowledge and communication technology expanded exponentially many ancient secrets were revealed. Out of this, a new brand of mysticism has unfolded, some may have their roots in earlier traditions, but others have many roots and can be considered eclectic. In fact, one can even be a lone mystic without relation to any group at all.

The essential difference between these two groups is the level of revelation. Both groups may have high levels of erudition and faith, both may believe that they have a firm grip on the truth, but the dividing line is that the mystic has an unworldly sense of awe and wonder, which may be due to spiritual experiences that made the knowledge more intimate and more alive.

While all scientists are in a quest for the truth, Physics is the specialized group that seeks to understand the whole universe.

Similarly, in Physics, too, I believe there is an exoteric and an esoteric branch. Everyone may know the same thing in both branches, but the level of intimacy with the knowledge is different.

Technicians are the large group. They know the mathematics, understand the formulas, and can present a decent exposition of the ideas.

The mystics of Physics, however, are harder to define. They have a different attitude and "feel" for Physics.

Perhaps an example might make it more clear. You will see at once that this type of person views Physics as a multi-dimensional experience.

"Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavor to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears it ticking, but has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility of the meaning of such a comparison."

The mystic? Albert Einstein. (The Evolution of Physics, p. 31).

In Physics today, the masters are in pursuit of essence. They seek the essence of quantum mechanics, quantum logic, special relativity, general relativity, and some new directions that Physics is currently moving in.

I compare Physicists to mystics because they have much in common.

One, they both share the same quest: understanding the meaning of everything; coming up with a brief history of everything by examining the underlying principles or laws that govern the universe.

Two, many of their findings are remarkably similar. I'll give a really quick example. The lay person, informed by commonsensical observation, may believe that there is only one spatiotemporal dimension. The religious person may believe that there is at least a heaven and an earth (although some may factor in a few more dimensions referred to as purgatory and hell). But both mystics and physicists believe that there may be many dimensions. Mystics hold as many as 7 or more dimensions, while physicists hold as may as 11 or more (a new branch known as String Theory).

Three, both physicists and mystics, appear to gather their understanding from more than observation and experimentation; they develop insight. In-sight. They literally look within. For example, Albert Einstein would sit in silence, holding two rocks in either hand and slip into a state of deep relaxation, a Theta-level of consciousness, where he could then visualize his thought experiments more clearly. When he slipped into Delta, the brainwave state of sleep, he would wake himself up by dropping a rock. Mystics use a similar device, referred to as meditation or contemplation. They both understand that at the beta level of consciousness, the brainwaves of everyday waking consciousness, you pretty much have the same level of thoughts, and that to really understand anything, you need to drop to Alpha or, if you can, into Theta.

Ultimately, it is our appreciation for novelty that determines our capacity to open new fields of knowledge from the appearance of things. Those who wed a sense of awe and wonder with inquiry are those who discover the secrets of life. It does not matter to which group, if any, you belong to in your quest for the truth about the meaning of life, what matters most is the spirit of your quest. Your spirit and sense of adventure will inform the depths of your experiences and give you startling conclusions. In a world where most people are in a coma of habituated thought, it is remarkably refreshing to look upon everything with the eyes of a child; over time, with sufficient inquiry, this process then results in the evolution of the mind of a sage.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

An Open Letter To A Dying Planet

It will soon be a new year and we are almost a quarter of the way into the first decade of the new century. Where are we heading now? What will happen to the human race? Will it overcome its shadow side and migrate to the stars, a vision of Star Trek, or will it annihilate itself, the way the Roman empire, the greatest empire on earth, the pride of the ancient world, whose brilliant legislature, political organization, unrivalled military might, grand architecture, innovative engineering and artistic achievements have now been relegated to dusty archives?

The future of humanity depends on awareness of its plight. Without awareness, extinction is highly possible. With awareness, a critical mass for change can happen.

At no time in the last ten thousand years since the Ice Age have we exhibited such astonishing genius or such abominable disregard for sentient life. Somehow we have arrived here in this new century despite the worldwide suffering and traumatic events of the past one.

The greatest peril facing our species may be the overpopulation of our planet. Our very success with science and technology to improve the survival of all human life may be our downfall. The current rate of growth is about 1.9 percent a year. This may not sound like an alarming figure but it means that the population doubles every forty years. Right now it is around 6 billion. By the end of this century it will be around 40 billion. By then, it will be too late to do anything. That is the current lifetime left for humanity unless we become sophisticated enough to migrate to the stars.

Can we do it? Can we survive as a species? In order to answer that question, let us look at the greatest century ever in the history of the human race, the twentieth century. Unless we learn from our mistakes, we will be condemned to repeat them. But this time, we may not have a second chance.

The journey of the exploration of inner space began in the twentieth century. Sigmund Freud explored the unconscious, linked neurosis to the sex drive, and sought to heal the past by examining it in the present. Initially shocked by his ideas, those who read and understood him then spread a new burst of awareness.

In the famous painting, The Scream, Edvard Munch, a Norwegian artist who followed the tradition of French Impressionism, epitomized the anxiety and terror of the human psyche, the grief that arose from recognizing the personal and collective pain in the unconscious mind.

Pablo Picasso's Cubism and Salvador Dali's Surrealism created more waves of awareness about the anguish of the individual soul tormented by the traumas of life, and this imagery of suppressed emotional pain spread even faster through the medium of surrealistic films.

But while a small proportion of artists were making public the existential angst of humanity, other great minds were marveling at the mystery of the universe. Albert Einstein declared that energy and matter could be exchanged, x-rays showed the insides of a living human being, and microscopes and telescopes started to reveal the world of the very small and the very large. In addition, amongst numerous other wonders, science developed contraceptives, giving couples the chance to experience intimacy without the need to raise a new family.

Human genius was on the rise everywhere. Startling discoveries were being made in the sciences that were radically transforming the very essence of human understanding and the way society functioned. But the most startling of them all, was the power of the atom. By isolating, smashing and splitting atoms, an enormous power of unimaginable magnitude had been discovered.

After the first atomic bomb was tested in Los Alamos, the chief scientist Robert Oppenheimer quoted a passage in the Bhagavad-Gita, "Now I have become death and the destroyer of worlds." The scientists were shocked at what they had discovered, but the use to which the power was put changed the entire history of humanity for the worse. The powers of the Western World opted for the short-term benefit of defeating Japan, but did not then realize that it had introduced an unfathomable nightmare of weapons proliferation that could destroy every living creature in the known universe.

Before the nuclear shadow fell on humankind, the most horrific cause of anxiety in the collective unconscious, total war had already been invented.

The first world war escalated human territoriality and aggression to an industrial scale. The mechanical energy that had been used to transform humanity from an agrarian and localized population to an industrialized and globally expanding population was now used for wholesale slaughter. Man became the victim of his own machines. Armaments could be manufactured on a large and rapid scale. The lethal invention of the gun now became the even deadlier machine gun; in the few seconds it took to kill one man, now a dozen could be killed.

But this was only the beginning of mass-scale suffering because never in the history of humankind had evil men had the means to exploit and destroy so many people so efficiently.

Joseph Stalin initiated the collective farms of communism. Under his interpretation of the ideology of communism, 22 million people died in the labor camps of his slave empire.

The Japanese invaded China in 1937 and slaughtered 60 million Chinese.

Adolph Hitler promised the German people the restoration of their honor and self-respect after the humiliation of Germany's earlier defeat and the penalty imposed upon them by their victorious enemies. Nazi Germany slaughtered another 50 million. 27 million of these were Soviet citizens. 6 million of them were Jewish people, who were systematically hunted and captured, stripped of all human dignity and murdered with ruthless efficiency.

Yet the havoc that was unleashed by the machinery of the industrial age was only the beginning of the flagrant abuse of raw power.

The second world war had leveled down many previously flourishing cities through continuous bombing over months like Rotterdam, Dresden, and Tokyo, but when the atomic bomb was dropped by America on Japan, two whole cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were leveled in seconds.

Despite the overwhelming violence of these horrors, human cruelty continued unabated on a scale that had never ever before been witnessed on the face of creation.

Mao-tse Tung promising the Chinese people "a great leap forward," publicly humiliated landowners, initiated widescale persecution and torture on anyone who disagreed with him and gave the land to the peasants. These peasants overworked the soil, creating a famine of immense proportions and 30 million Chinese starved to death.

In Cambodia, Pol Pot, waged a war on his own people and one out of three Cambodians was murdered.

In Cambodia, Viet Nam, Rwanda, and Kosovo the bloodbath was relentless.

War had become remote, precise, and deadly. Human beings had become the cruelest and most savage creatures ever to have walked upon the earth. Even the Dinosaurs that once roamed the earth in the distant past did not have the same vicious intensity. They killed to survive, but human beings killed because of wounded pride. Intelligence enlisted to satisfy dark human drives created unspeakable suffering.

Yet somehow, remarkably, humanity, despite its new penchant for efficient slaughter, as a whole, still continued to progress.

Around 1950, America's statue of liberty became a symbol of hope for immigrants from around the world. With their zestful energy they infused renewed life into the country. Some of these immigrants were the greatest scientists in the world, including Albert Einstein; others transformed the New World through backbreaking labor. The result of this influx of brilliance and massive effort transformed the United States into a formidable economic and military power. To the rest of the world, exhausted and depleted by the aftermath of war, everything appeared bigger and better in America. It boasted taller buildings, bigger cars, a vast network of roads and railways, and a love for innovation and technology. America became the new hope, its vision of a promising new humanity dominating the rest of the world.

However a migrational shift existed across the whole world. Those who could not travel abroad moved in large numbers from the country to the city. Calcutta became overwhelmed with a population of 10 million people; Tokyo swelled as millions of country people became urban dwellers; and in the 18,000 square miles of Mexico city, an urban sprawl developed around the fringes of the city and discarded waste materials spread outwards.

All over the world, in rich and poor countries, cities became highly attractive: a place for greater wealth, broader freedom, and more excitement. Running out of room, cities began to grow upwards, becoming vertical, climate-controlled, and neon-lit. Their growth was due to a flight from the poverty experienced in the countryside and the lure of the promise of living in a consumer paradise. Shanty towns became common place around the fringes of many cities in the developing world, and the gap between the rich and the poor widened, with women becoming the poorest of the world's citizens.

Europe having exhausted its resources and population in colonization and total war now experienced an influx of the people whom they had subjugated. In the spread of imperialism, ties had been made with the conquered people. For example, Asians from India, Pakistan, East Africa, and Trinidad made England their new home. In Wembley, North London, the local Hindu people imported a magnificent temple, stone by precious stone, from their native country.

In the United States, too, migration continued, not only from overseas and from the country to the city, but also from its borders. Los Angeles has the largest Mexican population outside Mexico city. Preserving their cultural traditions, the growing Hispanic population is slowly changing the European mix of America into a Latino one.

After its victory in the Second World War, the United States became the strongest economy on the earth. Besides the influx of new ideas and labor from immigrants, the emphasis on science and technology created a revolution in telecommunications. Radio, television, Hollywood movies, satellites, and advertising from America influenced the rest of the world. American celebrities became popular everywhere, from the songs of Elvis Presley to the fights of Muhammad Ali. A celebrity in America usually became an international celebrity. Towards the last decade of the century, America initiated the network of computers that we now know as the world wide web.

Communications created the first sense of a global community. Everyone was able to see everyone else and share common human interests and values. 200 million people watched the wedding of Princess Diana and a little over two million watched her funeral. During the final World Cup Soccer match in 1998, 2 billion people watched it on television. With the advent of the mobile telephone, anybody on any street in the world could talk to anyone else anywhere on the planet.

Besides the thrill of watching each other, the human race also had a chance to watch itself. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the lunar expeditions was not pictures of a dead moon but the pictures of a living planet. Humanity began to see itself for the first time as a single species, rather than a collection of warring factions. From space, the planet looked like a big, blue marble floating in inky darkness. People noticed more ocean than land, the absence of any political borders, and the possibility of multinational friendships and the sharing of common experiences. Besides seeing itself, humanity also vicariously experienced the thrill of watching their home planet as a whole. Listening in to the astronauts live broadcast, they shared in their sense of awe.

While the balance of power shifted from Europe to North America, it then slowly began to shift from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim. American supremacy was being challenged by the countries of the East.

One thousand years ago, Japan was isolated; in the 20th Century it started becoming an economic super-power.

Similarly, other "tiger economies" also erupted around the Pacific, with Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore creating cities that rivaled the cosmopolitan grandeur of North America. In Singapore, for example, the island has become a metropolis whose breathtaking skyline is only rivaled by that of Shanghai.

One thousand years ago, the silk roads to China led to the most refined civilization on earth. China had already invented printing, paper currency, the compass, and gunpowder. In the 21st Century, it is poised to become the new global super-power, because of huge foreign investments, particularly from Chinese living overseas, as well as its population of one billion people.

The greatest dilemma of the future is not our powerlessness, but our power, and not our stupidity, but our immense intelligence.

Initially, we used industrial and nuclear power to create carnage that made the terror of Genghis Khan look mild.

Later, despite whole populations being destroyed, we built up cities, explored space and our own minds and hearts, migrated closer to each other, and shared technology and communication.

In our most glorious century, we have known both the agony of wide scale destruction and the joy of rebirth.

We have seen what we all look like and shared our fondest cultural snapshots with each other.

It seems that in the last century of the last millennium everything changed for humanity.
Sigmund Freud exposed our dark human instincts. Evil men dominated whole nations and slaughtered millions. Conquering people began to coexist with those that they had once subjugated. Economic power shifted from one part of the globe to another. And the rate of knowledge expanded at a bewildering pace. Never before had humankind experienced so much, learned so much, and been exposed to so much raw power that it had learned to harness from nature.

In this new century we find ourselves experiencing an expansion of the cultural and global patterns we created earlier, and our greatest strength, our raw power and unsurpassed intelligence, can also turn out be our greatest weakness.

What will happen to humanity? Will the currently existing outbreaks of war expand to become an Armageddon? Will political, economic, military, industrial, and religious rivalry outweigh any common sense? Will we simply overpopulate and pollute ourselves to death? Will the accelerating economic inequality and exploitation of natural resources create its own brand of chaos? Will prevailing human helplessness at the size of our global problems overshadow us or will we choose to become more aware, educated, cooperative and communicative?

Humanity's future has become extreme: it faces either an apocalypse or evolution to a species that will live in space-stations and travel in star-ships. Everything hangs in the balance based on what we do this century. We have survived the past, but if the same naive patterns continue into the future, we will not make it.

Ultimately, even if we can overcome our individual and collective shadows, even if human decency can outweigh primitive aggression, even if human collaboration is finally possible and human genius is allowed full self-expression, we have one last hurdle to overcome, otherwise the past millennium will have been the last one for our species. Each decade, the stakes are rising. The warning of futurists has fallen on deaf ears. The probability of perishing in the coming millenium is no longer science fiction, it is becoming observable fact to even the most indifferent and ill-informed people.

A time will come when we will need a new home. No force on earth can stop over-population other than widespread devastation due to belligerence or the depletion of limited resources. Our only possible hope is to become star travelers.

Will we be ready to make the new leap to the stars or will the light of human genius, hindered by territorial animal disputes, fail to rise to a level that will save our race from oblivion?

Instant communication and rapid travel has shrunk the world. Can we now use our global brain, the Internet, to communicate in a meaningful way to create a collective change in the consciousness of humanity? We owe this not to ourselves but to generations yet to come. Positive action has to happen this century, a critical mass of awareness has to be reached, otherwise the resulting chaos will be beyond control.

In the past, according to the literature of various traditions, avatars would show up to guide us to wisdom, but we persecuted them. As witnessed by the atrocities of the past century, our shallow intentions and brute instincts are still with us. The only hope for humanity is a collective renaissance of awareness, because only the birth of a widespread intelligence will prevent catastrophe. An expansion of mind and heart has to happen at a critical mass.

Like you, I am no-one, but with you, we can be everyone. Please pass this message on. Throw this message in the bottle back into the ocean. A thousand years from now, one of our descendents will read it and be grateful for the life that they are now living; and it will probably not be on earth anymore. If you had the perseverance to read to this line, don't click "delete", click "forward." Here is why: The future can no longer be a revalidation of the past. There is too much at stake. Intelligence has evolved us from the apes, but the lack of it's positive application may also be our nemesis. Alone as individuals, we will not have much of a chance of saving our planet, but collectively, there is no limit to human genius. Can we evolve to a species that colonizes space or will we perish before we get there?

We are living on a dying planet, and you and I can sound the alarm bell. The Internet can make this possible. With each passing decade, the price of human ignorance will be extracting a heavier toll.

The antidote to apathy and withdrawal is awareness, which is the reason for this essay. Paraphrasing the words of Mahatma Gandhi, we can be the change we wish to see in the world. It begins with the click of a mouse button.

Unless sleeping humanity begins to wake up, it's emerging power of numbers, economic expansion, scientific exploration, and technological advances will be used for extinction not evolution. As you can see, we have already grossly abused the power that we possess; there is no guarantee that we will become wiser in the new year and in the new decade which will soon be upon us. Our power in all areas is expanding as our knowledge expands. Military toys are becoming deadlier; viruses are adapting to our most potent antibiotics and becoming unstoppably virulent; and ideological fanaticism is reaching a point where nuclear proliferation is not possible to contain. Awareness right now is our only hope. Unless, through awareness, humanity as a whole is willing to give up its conscious and unconscious hostilities, disaster is inevitable.

We can use the Internet to spread these ideas to every home and corporation and government in the world. Only 6 degrees of separation lie between us and anyone else in the world.

Without awareness, positive change is not possible. We owe it to generations yet unborn to spread awareness. This is the meme that will save our species. Awareness can blossom into knowledge and knowledge into positive action; but without awareness; through mere blind, reflexive living, chaos will erupt as surely as night follows day, or one century follows the next.

Please send this article to one or more people or post it somewhere. You can click "delete" or "forward." In a strange way, the fate of the world may have something to do with us. You and I will probably never meet, but we share a common bond. Despite all our differences, we are all connected. It is our greatest value. Let us act, each in our own small way, on an impulse, no matter how faint, to help the greater good.
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Friday, December 15, 2006

Applied Mysticism

Life has a way of working itself out. In the process of living your life, things have a way of resolving themselves.

Another way of saying this is "ask and receive."

Of course, to the logical, sequential-processing, fact-based mind, this makes no sense at all. It sounds like airy-fairy nonsense, mere wishful thinking.

How does it happen? Is it divine intervention, the presence of angels, or the subconscious mind suddenly paying attention?

I really don't know. I can tell you the process and you can apply your favorite explanation.

Here are the five steps:

One, ask for a solution to a current problem.

Two, envision a happy outcome.

Three, trust that an answer will show up

Four, let it go.

Five, the answer will appear.

I'll give you an example that happened yesterday. I was wondering how anything could be understood because the nature of all things is infinitely complex. Was it ever possible to have a theory of everything?

This was my question. It baffled me, and I did not even get to the stage where I could envision a happy outcome.

Not being able to resolve it, I gave up.

That same day, in the evening, I stumbled upon how Albert Einstein had spent his life pursing the same question. After his General and Special Theory, his dream was to find a theory of everything, a unified field theory. He believed in an elegant theory, where gravitation and electro-magnetism could be united. Unfortunately, what rudely disrupted his plans was the eruption of Quantum Mechanics, where elegance was not the norm and subatomic elements could either be observed or measured, but not both. Quantum Mechanics posited two more forces, the strong force and the weak force. The strong force is what holds an atomic nucleus together and a weak force is what is responsible for radioactive decay. Well, now, not one, but two theories of everything coexisted. One for the world of the very large, planetary bodies. And one for the world of the very small, subatomic particles. Albert Einstein died a puzzled man. He could not figure out how to unite gravity, the force created on a planet because of a curvature in space-time as it traveled around its sun, with electro-magnetism, the forces of light, electricity, and magnetism, with the strong force, the "glue" that bound protons and neutrons together in a nucleus, and the weak force, the force that was responsible for radioactive decay.

How could a theory of everything work on the scale of the very large yet fail on the scale of the very small? How could the elegant laws that governed the planetary bodies and systems of the universe fail to have any application in the world of electrons spinning around a nucleus? (Initially, when scientists had perceived the atom as a "miniature" solar system, this problem was not observed; but after learning how to split atoms, this model was considered nonsensical, because only probability patterns of energy existed at the subatomic level.)

How could the theory of everything have two completely different theories? It would be like a one way street where the signs pointed in both directions or a traffic light which had all three colors on at the same time.

"God does not play dice," he declared. But according to experiment after experiment in Quantum Mechanics, that is all that He did all day long.

Half a century after he died, however, along came String Theory, which posited that there was even something smaller than a quark and that it was a string, a vibrating string of energy that functioned in multiple dimensions to create the subatomic particles that could be observed. The entire universe, then, was an orchestra, a vibration at the level of the infinitesimally small, that played out different frequencies to create different constituents of things.

This debate, of course, is still raging, with many Physicists believing that since String Theory could never be experimentally verified (because the size of vibrating strings were infinitesimally small) that it was not valid, and more philosophy than science.

The point of this discussion, however, is that Applied Mysticism works.

I asked what I consider to be an impossible question. Can one understand everything? Is such a thing even possible? I thought this question so outlandish that I gave up on ever finding an answer. I even experienced some despair, that I would spend the rest of my life bewildered by everything. Then to my surprise, through a series of coincidences, I found that not only was my question not original but that this entire phenomena of the universe could be broken down into a quest for a handful of unifying principles.

Even though I did the steps in a random way and none of them fully, I still got amazing results. I actually developed the steps afterwards, through recapitulation of these events that I have just narrated to you.

I am still testing it, but I think that they should work better than my original haphazard application of Applied Mysticism, a term I have coined to describe this phenomena.

Here, however, is one possible explanation.

I do not know the agency that creates the answer but I think the process is made possible because one steps outside thought itself for a moment.

My take on this is that the problem of problems is a systematic one. It is not one or two rogue thoughts that are the problem. It is not a result of negative thinking or misperception because of erroneous presuppositions. The entire system of thinking itself is flawed because it is based on a need to find and resolve problems.

This is not an original idea, either. David Bohm had expanded on it fully. David Joseph Bohm was an American-born quantum physicist, who made significant contributions in theoretical physics, philosophy and neuropsychology, and to the Manhattan Project.

David Bohm, in his book Thought as a System, defined the problem with thinking itself.

"So one begins to wonder what is going to happen to the human race. Technology keeps on advancing with greater and greater power, either for good or for destruction."

"What is the source of all this trouble? I am saying that the source is basically in thought. Many people would think that such a statement is crazy, because thought is the one thing we have with which to solve our problems. That's part of our tradition. Yet it looks as if the thing we use to solve our problems with is the source of our problems. It's like going to the doctor and having him make you ill. In fact, in 20% of medical cases we do apparently have that going on. But in the case of thought, it's far over 20%."

"…the general tacit assumption in thought is that it's just telling you the way things are and that it's not doing anything - that 'you' are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don't decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us."

"Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally. This is another major feature of thought: Thought doesn't know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it is doing. It doesn't want to know that it is doing it. And thought struggles against the results, trying to avoid those unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of thinking. That is what I call 'sustained incoherence.'"

"What I mean by 'thought' is the whole thing - thought, 'felt', the body, the whole society sharing thoughts - it's all one process. It is essential for me not to break that up, because it's all one process; somebody else's thoughts becomes my thoughts, and vice versa. Therefore it would be wrong and misleading to break it up into my thoughts, your thoughts, my feelings, these feelings, those feelings... I would say that thought makes what is often called in modern language a system. A system means a set of connected things or parts. But the way people commonly use the word nowadays it means something all of whose parts are mutually interdependent - not only for their mutual action, but for their meaning and for their existence. A corporation is organized as a system - it has this department, that department, that department. They don't have any meaning separately; they only can function together. And also the body is a system. Society is a system in some sense. And so on.

"Similarly, thought is a system. That system not only includes thoughts, 'felts' and feelings, but it includes the state of the body; it includes the whole of society - as thought is passing back and forth between people in a process by which thought evolved from ancient times. A system is constantly engaged in a process of development, change, evolution and structure changes...although there are certain features of the system which become relatively fixed. We call this the structure....Thought has been constantly evolving and we can't say when that structure began. But with the growth of civilization it has developed a great deal. It was probably very simple thought before civilization, and now it has become very complex and ramified and has much more incoherence than before.

"Now, I say that this system has a fault in it - a 'systematic fault'. It is not a fault here, there or here, but it is a fault that is all throughout the system. Can you picture that? It is everywhere and nowhere. You may say "I see a problem here, so I will bring my thoughts to bear on this problem". But 'my' thought is part of the system. It has the same fault as the fault I am trying to look at, or a similar fault.

"Thought is constantly creating problems that way and then trying to solve them. But as it tries to solve them it makes it worse because it doesn’t notice that it's creating them, and the more it thinks, the more problems it creates. (P. 18-19)"

Thus, the reason we have problems in the first place is because we think of things in a problematic way and manifest the situation. We then get stuck in it. The system of thought itself created the problem. Of course, we like to believe that the problem existed in reality and that we just smacked into it.

But reality does not exist without us, it is, after all, only an interpretation of sensory data. I know that this is not clear either, so let me draw a quick thought-experiment here.

Imagine if one early morning, 10 people were put on a bus and taken to a new town that none of them had ever been before. They were then allowed to roam around it for the whole day. Finally, in the evening, they would return back to their city of origin. Now, each one would be surprised by a separate interview. The physical aspects of the town (an objective reality) would be interpreted by the minds of those ten people based on their own interests, views, habits, predilections, patterns of observation, past history, favorite sensory modalities and submodalities, and soon. Each one would notice different things and filter out different things. In fact because of their differences, they probably would have dispersed and visited completely different places in that town. After the interviewers themselves got together, they would wonder if the visitors had been to the same town or ten different towns.

Reality-creation is an interpretive experience.

So the only way to escape the system of interpretive thought you are in is to follow the five steps I have outlined in Applied Mysticism.

Let us run through a theoretical example to make it clear.

Suppose, you need more money than you can currently receive from your job to pay some bills. Here is how you apply the five steps.

1. Ask for a way to pay the bills.
2. Imagine paying the bills.
3. Trust that the bills are paid.
4. Let it go.
5. The answer will appear.

How? How will the answer appear? It literally appears in a way that you had not thought of while trying to figure it out.

Your mind can only run over what you know:

The people you can borrow the money from.

The extra work you can do to find the money.

The things you can sell.

But all this data is mined from the past, because that is where all known variables exist.

However, what you need is an answer from the future. This answer comes in an unexpected way. In my own experience it has come as an insight, someone just showing up with the answer, and my finding the answer in a book that I happen to pick up. However, it can show up in any number of ways.

The only way to prove it, of course, is to try it. Then you will see the evidence for yourself. Follow the five steps. Something will happen. I found a whole steam of answers to my impossible question; imagine how much easier it would be to get the answer to a practical problem.

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Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

What On Earth Is Going On Here?

It's all a miracle, when you come to think of it.

All of it.

Billions of years ago, out of nothing, a universe evolved from a sound. The vibration of this "big bang" still continues to expand.

A planet evolved out of the masses of dead planets that would support life. As far as we currently know, no other planet in our galaxy supports life. There are rumors of space visitors but few of us have ever seen them, or their magnificent ships. It's all hearsay, and since pictures can be doctored and governments tend to suppress things in a reflexive way, the more we think about it, the more confused we get.

Millions of creatures on this planet; some of them in the deepest recesses of the ocean; some alive in the depths of the soil; some flying in the air; some leaping across the tree tops; some slithering down the rocks; and then, of course, there's us, living in concrete jungles, a species so intelligent that our closest biological parallel, the monkey, has the intelligence similar to that of a three-year-old human being.

We not only have an awareness of what is going on in our neighborhood but we have some pretty good ideas of what the rest of the galaxy looks like, as well as the universe as a whole. We have also developed enough mathematics and instruments to show us the smallest of things, a subatomic particle. To our surprise, we have found that it isn't a thing at all, but a cloud of energy, a probability pattern that appears to dance in and out of existence and may even travel back and forth in time.

Where did all these creatures, so many, so spectacular, and so astonishing at times, come from, and why are they here anyway? What, for example, is the destiny of a rat? an earthworm? a culture of bacteria? Do they have a higher purpose, too, or are they just here to breed, consume, excrete, and die?

But it gets stranger still.

Biologically, you had a high probability of not being here in the first place.

Out of millions of sperms that completely happened to miss the egg, you happened to be the one who made that biochemical "handshake." This, in turn, created a massive replication of very specialized cells that formed itself into a completely organized biological system of some trillions of cells. For the most part these trillions of cells appear to get along together and effortlessly run on autopilot for decades, maybe even three-quarters of a century.

And while all of this has happened and is still happening, you aren't, as far as you can tell, taking an active role in running the show. Your liver, without a thought from you, seems to know exactly what to do to keep you around despite that extra shot of Vodka you took to cheer yourself up yesterday.

Again, out of billions of people, it only took the probability of two to meet to bring you here. In fact, those two people may not even have gotten along very well with each other; but still, you're here, despite all the arguments they've had and may still be having with each other. Somehow you snuck in when they were in a good mood.

Spiritually, too, there was not much of a chance that you would show up here, either.

Assuming there is a spiritual dimension, there is probably a long waiting list to get a human body. The odds of getting one must be as astonishing as winning the lottery. After all, if there are billions here already, and all souls never die, then there must be an astronomical number in the other dimension. Since space-time is infinite, assuming they even have space-time there, the number of souls may rival the number of stars in the universe.

Out of all possible experiences, you had a select number that have shaped your personality to be the way it is. And out of the 60,000 or more thoughts you have had every day of your life, there are only a select few that you acted on to make your day the way it is today.

It's all so strange and mysterious that there is a group of us, called scientists, dedicated to looking into it, and this group has become so specialized because there is so much information that now very few of us even know what they are talking about.

Another group has formed as well, called philosophers, who try to piece all the disciplines together to create a big picture, but even this group has become overwhelmed and broken up into splinter units, and we will never ever again have the grand schemes of a Plato, a Kant, or a Spencer. The idea of a grand unified theory of life has all but been abandoned. Of course, there are still a few renegades, like Ken Wilber, who still like to write a brief history of everything, but even these attempts are more about creating huge sweeping classifications, then really explaining anything. It's not anybody's fault really,
there is just too much to consider and still too much to discover to allow a neat, overall pattern to be envisioned.

Then there are other groups, called politicians, who work hard on writing the rule books based on the prevailing ideas of world domination. And, they are followed quite closely, by people whom we will politely call industrialists, who are trying to do the same thing, except that they use a different kind of paper to determine the rules on how the rest of the species should live.

But, of course, the quest for power, does not stop there. There are also the armed forces, the environmentalists, the activists, the musicians, the theologians, and every other imaginable social cluster that is trying to weave a coherent pattern out of their own particular world-view.

The main difficulty everyone is having is not getting a clear idea of what is going on.

In the days of ancient Greece, a sapient homo sapient, like Aristotle, could embrace a complete world view. He impressed everyone for centuries as appearing to know something about everything.

But today, we know, for sure, that he didn't really know that much. Ironically, the awe that centuries of scholars had held him in was mainly due to the fact that very few people were willing to look into anything deeply at all. In fact, those who did ended up getting crucified or burned at the stake or some other gruesome finish.

Fortunately, along came epochs like the Renaissance and the Age of Reason where human curiosity finally broke the bonds of collective stupidity and original inquiry became acceptable again.

This, in itself, took on a massive momentum. After centuries of intellectual suppression, in this century, we ended up figuring out and inventing more than in the entire history of the human race. Today, the rate of knowledge is expanding at such a rapid rate each day that no one can keep up with it anymore.

A multi-talented individual, a "universal man" like Leonardo Da Vinci or Isaac Newton will never be known again. Unfortunately, this has happened not only because of the rate of expansion of knowledge but because toleration for genius has also faded. For example, someone like William Sidis, who in 1910, at age 11, lectured Harvard Mathematical club on "Four-Dimensional Bodies," spent most of his adult life hiding from the vituperation of the popular press.

Albert Einstein did not have a great start either. However, after being scorned by the university system and being forced to take the menial job of a patent office clerk, he managed to break free of the prejudice against intelligence by coming up with such startling ideas that the dozen or so people who understood what he was talking about embraced it and he became the first really smart celebrity.

But even Albert Einstein, after his few shocking revelations, spent most of his life in bewilderment. He constantly argued with Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and the ever growing army of the exponents of Quantum Physics. In this battle of wits, he never really gained any ground because the mathematical and experimental evidence kept on showing the world of the very small to be constantly more bizarre than anyone had ever previously imagined.

Albert Einstein argued that "God does not play dice." He believed that a grand, logical, aesthetic design should explain everything, but the evidence kept on piling up to show that God was indeed playing dice all day long.

Speaking of dice, even your own life, when you come to think of it, has been filled with many improbable interventions that rescued you from certain disasters, gave you insight when you needed it most, and created an entire pattern when you look back at it. No doubt, at the current moment, you're witnessing another role of the dice, and despite how rational and sensible you're trying to be things are working out in a most unusual way.

The probability of anything happening the way it has happened is so unlikely that about the only statement one can make about living on earth is that it is all a miracle.

At best, we only have a vague idea of what is really going on, and we have a way of muddling up our facts and inventing our own versions to explain the gaps, which only adds to the confusion. And we are not alone in this quest to keep things as befuddled as possible. Despite the astonishing discoveries of neuroscience, all educational systems throughout the world still operate on roughly the same educational paradigms invented a century or two earlier. And some even fail to rival that of the 17th Century.

Ironically, despite the beauty of this entire scheme of life on Earth, our internal agitation, both as individuals and as a culture, appear to have taken over for the most part. It appears that we are all simultaneously wrecking as much havoc as possible while crying for help. This is not a cynical comment. Evidence for it is as close as the nearest newspaper or Television or Radio News Channel.

Perhaps the greatest miracle is yet to come. At the current rate of overpopulation, pollution, nuclear arms escalation, genocidal outbreaks, archaic educational systems, rampant militarism, the machinations of multinational corporations, religious dogma, social unrest, economic spirals, environmental disasters, and the disappearance of entire species of flora and fauna, it's going to take another miracle to keep the Earth itself from total collapse. Again, there are rumors of this as having happened before, and there are talks of civilizations like Atlantis and Lemuria which appear to have disappeared without much of a trace, apart from archeological artifacts, which could also be explained in any other number of ways. Like the notion of life on other planets, we have, at present, no clear idea if a flourishing civilization once existed before we showed up. (And, if we assume the idea of reincarnation, we may be the very same rascals who messed things up in the first place.)

In conclusion, then, whatever we make of the prevailing ideas of the earth, its confused inhabitants, and its possible future, one thing is rather clear: everything that exists has happened out of a huge improbability of it ever occurring in the first place.

What will it take for us, then, as a species, to appreciate the miracle of life and have more of it, not only for ourselves and other life-forms, but for generations of sentient life yet to come?

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Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Conversations With God

Words define our reality.

We use words to translate the split-second images in our minds into describing our experiences for others.

William Shakespeare invented 25,000 words, which are now part of our regular vocabulary, thus broadening our abilities to perceive our world in a unique and much broader way.

For the most part, language has been used as a means of communication between people.

However, it has also been used as a way to converse with God, or the great mystery of causation and origination, the pervasive pure consciousness that informs all experiences.

In some cultures, certain words, like those Sanskrit words used in the Ancient India, were used to connect a person with ultimate reality. This unique language appears in the earliest Upanishads (7th-8th century b.c.e.). But exactly how and when it evolved by the seers of that time remains a mystery.

These sacred words were called mantras and sutras.

A mantra is a sound that does not mean anything but which helps you transcend the limitations of thought and move to a state of ascending awareness. An example is "Om" which is used to represent the sound of creation, the primeval vibration that is believed
to have created all the other vibratory phenomena we call a universe. By sitting still and repeating this word with full attention, you transcend the limitations of the senses, the limitations of your identifications, and the limitations of your sequential thought processes. You attain stillness, poise, and equanimity over time because the word comes to inform your awareness.

A sutra is a sound as well, but it is also a word; it is something that has meaning. The word "sutra" itself means a stitch; it stitches the finite being with its infinite capacity.
The word "suture" that is used in English to describe a stitch by a surgeon comes from this word.

Sutras abound in Sanskrit, and in fact the entire language of Sanskrit can be said to have been invented as a way for a person to communicate with the divine. It is even believed that saying the word has an impact on the chakras, energy vortexes in the each of the subtle bodies, and the nadis, the subtle nerves. Their purpose is to conduct prana or vital force through the subtle bodies.

Many cryptic traditions refer to a number of discrete planes of existence, each with its own parallel "vehicle" of consciousness. Instead of a single physical body housing the soul, we have a series of "bodies" or "vehicles of consciousness". All these planes and bodies are connected by a pervasive consciousness.

Thus by using a sacred language, we not only connect with divinity, but with our own subtle powers that exist in an invisible way.

Here are a few examples of sutras.

Tat Tvam Asi (that tvam AH-see) which means "I am that." That, of course, refers to our spiritual essence.

Aham Brahmasmi (a-HUM-brah-MAHS-mee) which means "the core of my being is the ultimate reality and the source of all that exists."

Namaste (nah-mah-STAY) which means "my divine nature acknowledges the divine in you."

Sutras, however, are not merely brief statements. They can also be woven into complete dialogues that invoke the potentiality of the non-local mind.

The most famous is the Gayatri Mantra:

Om Bhoor Bhuwah Swaha, Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodayat.

A rough translation might be: "Oh God! Thou art the giver of life, remover of pain and sorrow. The bestower of happiness. Oh! Creator of the universe, may we receive they supreme light. May thou guide our intellect in the right direction."

The purpose of this invocation is to make the devotee more intelligent, more capable of insight, ingenuity and inspiration. This wisdom will then create a life of balance and harmony, truth and meaning, purpose and fulfillment, and ultimately a life of transcendental joy.

This mantra is said to be so potent that some people consider it their only form of devotion. There are numerous anecdotal reports of people who have miraculously resolved complex situation by using this mantra. They range from resolution of court cases, relief from debt, and escape from life-threatening circumstances, ranging from potential violence to a critical illness.

Over eons, the concept of God has changed to represent the idea of a physical being of sorts, but in the time the language of Sanskrit was evolving to connect with God, divinity was considered more along the lines of Baruch Spinoza, as an intelligence that informed all of creation, an abstract, energetic, and effortless organizing principle.

Baruch de Spinoza (1632 ���1677), a Dutch philosopher, was considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. He created a sharp separation from the medieval approach, especially scholasticism, which considered God as a being that was separate and distinct from its creation, an authoratative figure, not unlike the Grecian God, Zeus, or the Nordic God, Odin, that demanded a survile obedience that reflected the relationship between a Medeval lord and his serf.

Today Quantum Mechanics finds that the entire universe is intimately inter-related at a subatomic level. This leads to the speculation that the idea of separation itself may be the ultimate illusion.

Everything may, in fact, be stitched together by consciousness, what has been referred to as "the nonlocal mind." Thus, through the use of the sacred language, the spiritual aspirant hoped to suture the relationship between individual, conditioned consciousness with universal, pure consciousness, to suture the linear with the synchronistic, and to suture the time-bound and limited with the timeless and infinite. He sought to find the rhythm in the universe that would bless his life with a stream of well-being, and that would heal the schism of separation and seal the wound of fear with the balm of love.

The ultimate purpose of sentience appears to be to embrace the mystery, and for this it has evolved beings capable of creating sounds to penetrate the veils of existence in an attempt to suture the visible and the invisible worlds, the realm of effort with the effortless experience, the algorithmic with the non-algorithmic, and the conscious with the supra-conscious.

Language has been used to connect us with each other, to share our experience with one another, but once upon a time, in a world now almost completely forgotten, language was used to try to connect all the worlds together and to experience the bliss of transcendental harmony.
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Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from


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