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LSD and the Quantum Brain: Where Science and Spirituality Come Together

Today, the debate between the secular and the religious, as well as the scientific and the spiritual, is alive and well. It is common to hear one side attempt to discredit the other. However, as with most cases, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Many wonder if there is enough scientific research to support various religious or spiritual concepts. It appears that as science continues to progress, more and more evidence is revealed suggesting that, indeed, there is far more beyond the physical world that we know. One “quantum brain” theory (supported by famous physicist Sir Roger Penrose) gives a scientifically plausible explanation for some kind of life after death. The video below (narrated by Morgan Freeman) explains:

One book that offers a plethora of solid scientific evidence supporting spiritual phenomena is Michael Talbot’s The Holographic Universe. In chapter 3, after discussing Carl Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’, research showing how one person’s thoughts and impact another’s dreams, and the possibility of parallel universes, Talbot goes into detailing various experiments with the psychedelic drug LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide. The following is an eye-opening excerpt from the book:

Hitching a Ride on the Infinite Subway

The idea that we are able to access images from the collective unconscious, or even visit parallel dream universes, pales beside the conclusions of another prominent researcher who has been influenced by the holographic model. He is Stanislav Grof, chief of psychiatric research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After more than thirty years of studying nonordinary states of consciousness, Grof has concluded that the avenues of exploration available to our psyches via holographic interconnectedness are more than vast. They are virtually endless.

Grof first became interested in nonordinary states of consciousness in the 1950s while investigating the clinical uses of the hallucinogen LSD at the Psychiatric Research Institute in his native Prague, Czechoslovakia. The purpose of his research was to determine whether LSD had any therapeutic applications. When Grof began his research, most scientists viewed the LSD experience as little more than a stress reaction, the brain’s way of responding to a noxious chemical. But when Grof studied the records of his patient’s experiences he did not find evidence of any recurring stress reaction. Instead, there was a definite continuity running through each of the patient’s sessions. “Rather than being unrelated and random, the experiential content seemed to represent a successive unfolding of deeper and deeper levels of the unconscious,” says Grof. This suggested that repeated LSD sessions had important ramifications for the practice and theory of psychotherapy, and provided Grof and his colleagues with the impetus they needed to continue the research. The results were striking. It quickly became clear that serial LSD sessions were able to expedite the psychotherapeutic process and shorten the time necessary for the treatment of many disorders. Traumatic memories that had haunted individuals for years were unearthed and dealt with, and sometimes even serious conditions, such as schizophrenia, were cured. But what was even more startling was that many of the patients rapidly moved beyond issues involving their illnesses and into areas that were uncharted by Western psychology.

One common experience was the reliving of what it was like to be in the womb. At first Grof thought these were just imagined experiences, but as the evidence continued to amass he realized that the knowledge of embryology inherent in the descriptions was often far superior to the patients’ previous education in the area. Patients accurately described certain characteristics of the heart sounds of their mother, the nature of acoustic phenomena in the peritoneal cavity, specific details concerning blood circulation in the placenta, and even details about the various cellular and biochemical processes taking place. They also described important thoughts and feelings their mother had had during pregnancy and events such as physical traumas she had experienced.

Whenever possible Grof investigated these assertions, and on several occasions was able to verify them by questioning the mother and other individuals involved. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and biologists who experienced prebirth memories during their training for the program (all the therapists who participated in the study also had to undergo several sessions of LSD psychotherapy) expressed similar astonishment at the apparent authenticity of the experiences.

Most disconcerting of all were those experiences in which the patient’s consciousness appeared to expand beyond the usual boundaries of the ego and explore what it was like to be other living things and even other objects. For example, Grof had one female patient who suddenly became convinced she had assumed the identity of a female prehistoric reptile. She not only gave a richly detailed description of what it felt like to be encapsuled in such a form, but noted that the portion of the male of the species’ anatomy she found most sexually arousing was a patch of colored scales on the side of its head. Although the woman had no prior knowledge of such things, a conversation Grof had with a zoologist later confirmed that in certain species of reptiles, colored areas on the head do indeed play an important role as triggers of sexual arousal.

Patients were also able to tap into the consciousness of their relatives and ancestors. One woman experienced what it was like to be her mother at the age of three and accurately described a frightening event that had befallen her mother at the time. The woman also gave a precise description of the house her mother had lived in as well as the white pinafore she had been wearing—all details her mother later confirmed and admitted she had never talked about before. Other patients gave equally accurate descriptions of events that had befallen ancestors who had lived decades and even centuries before.

Other experiences included the accessing of racial and collective memories. Individuals of Slavic origin experienced what it was like to participate in the conquests of Genghis Khan’s Mongolian hordes, to dance in trance with the Kalahari bushmen, to undergo the initiation rites of the Australian aborigines, and to die as sacrificial victims of the Aztecs. And again the descriptions frequently contained obscure historical facts and a degree of knowledge that was often completely at odds with the patient’s education, race, and previous exposure to the subject. For instance, one uneducated patient gave a richly detailed account of the techniques involved in the Egyptian practice of embalming and mummification, including the form and meaning of various amulets and sepulchral boxes, a list of the materials used in the fixing of the mummy cloth, the size and shape of the mummy bandages, and other esoteric facets of Egyptian funeral services. Other individuals tuned into the cultures of the Far East and not only gave impressive descriptions of what it was like to have a Japanese, Chinese, or Tibetan psyche, but also related various Taoist or Buddhist teachings.

In fact, there did not seem to be any limit to what Grof’s LSD subjects could tap into. They seemed capable of knowing what it was like to be every animal, and even plant, on the tree of evolution. They could experience what it was like to be a blood cell, an atom, a thermonuclear process inside the sun, the consciousness of the entire planet, and even the consciousness of the entire cosmos. More than that, they displayed the ability to transcend space and time, and occasionally they related uncannily accurate precognitive information. In an even stranger vein they sometimes encountered nonhuman intelligences during their cerebral travels, discarnate beings, spirit guides from “higher planes of consciousness,” and other suprahuman entities.

On occasion subjects also traveled to what appeared to be other universes and other levels of reality. In one particularly unnerving session a young man suffering from depression found himself in what seemed to be another dimension. It had an eerie luminescence, and although he could not see anyone he sensed that it was crowded with discarnate beings. Suddenly he sensed a presence very close to him, and to his surprise it began to communicate with him telepathically. It asked him to please contact a couple who lived in the Moravian city of Kromeriz and let them know that their son Ladislav was well taken care of and doing all right. It then gave him the couple’s name, street address, and telephone number.

The information meant nothing to either Grof or the young man and seemed totally unrelated to the young man’s problems and treatment. Still, Grof could not put it out of his mind. “After some hesitation and with mixed feelings, I finally decided to do what certainly would have made me the target of my colleagues’ jokes, had they found out,” says Grof. “I went to the telephone, dialed the number in Kromeriz, and asked if I could speak with Ladislav. To my astonishment, the woman on the other side of the line started to cry. When she calmed down, she told me with a broken voice: ‘Our son is not with us anymore; he passed away, we lost him three weeks ago. ‘”

In the 1960s Grof was offered a position at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and moved to the United States. The center was also doing controlled studies of the psychotherapeutic applications of LSD, and this allowed Grof to continue his research. In addition to examining the effects of repeated LSD sessions on individuals with various mental disorders, the center also studied its effects on “normal” volunteers—doctors, nurses, painters, musicians, philosophers, scientists, priests, and theologians. Again Grof found the same kind of phenomena occurring again and again. It was almost as if LSD provided the human consciousness with access to a kind of infinite subway system, a labyrinth of tunnels and byways that existed in the subterranean reaches of the unconscious, and one that literally connected everything in the universe with everything else.

After personally guiding over three thousand LSD sessions (each lasting at least five hours) and studying the records of more than two thousand sessions conducted by colleagues, Grof became unalterably convinced that something extraordinary was going on. “After years of conceptual struggle and confusion, I have concluded that the data from LSD research indicate an urgent need for a drastic revision of the existing paradigms for psychology, psychiatry, medicine, and possibly science in general,” he states. “There is at present little doubt in my mind that our current understanding of the universe, of the nature of reality, and particularly of human beings, is superficial, incorrect, and incomplete.”

Grof coined the term transpersonal to describe such phenomena, experiences in which the consciousness transcends the customary boundaries of the personality, and in the late 1960s he joined with several other like-minded professionals, including the psychologist and educator Abraham Maslow, to found a new branch of psychology called transpersonal psychology

(The Holographic Universe, pgs. 66-70)

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Major World Issues That No One Is Talking About

With all the attention on the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the Golden State Warriors, ISIS and an endless stream of shootings and terror attacks, it appears the world has forgotten about all of the other pressing issues around the globe. Presented below is a small sample of some of the major events going on that the world has pretty much turned a blind eye to.

Indonesia: Forest Fires, Orangutans, and a Quiet War

Since July, Indonesia has been on fire. Its biodiverse forests are aflame, from coast to coast. It has caused some half million respiratory infections and roughly 20 deaths, with another 100,000 premature deaths estimated to come. In just three weeks, these fires released more CO2 than an entire year’s worth of emissions from Germany. It has already caused nearly $50 billion in damage, and some have called it the worst environmental catastrophe of the 21st century.

The fires have exacerbated the plight of Indonesia’s precious orangutans. Each hour, an area of forest the size of three hundred football fields is cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. As many as a dozen orangutans are killed in the process each day. Over the past two decades, more than 90% of orangutan habitats have been destroyed, along with some 50,000 of the apes, who share approximately 97% of our genes and whose Malay name literally means “forest person”. Their extinction is imminent.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is fighting a quiet war against the indigenous people of West Papua. Since the 1960s, it has taken around 100,000 lives, and the Indonesia army has been accused of brutal oppression. The UN is silent on this issue (while over the same time period adopting more than 80 resolutions with regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which in comparison has caused 75% less casualties).

Dubai: Glamour, Riches, and Slavery

Transformation of Dubai (Credit: Techeblog.com)
Transformation of Dubai (Credit: Techeblog.com)

Dubai is known for its oil wealth, soaring skyscrapers, and artificial fun-shaped islands. In just three decades, it has transformed itself from a barren desert into a sprawling metropolis. However, all of this unbounded growth comes at a price. It has been accomplished through the labour of migrant workers, primarily from India.

These workers are recruited from their homelands with an “American Dream”-style promise of opportunity. In reality, they are brought into dilapidated workers camps on the outskirts of the city, living with eight or more others in a tiny room. Just one such camp, called Sonapur, has over 150,000 workers. Many of them have their passports confiscated at the airport, preventing them from leaving. Not that they could afford to leave anyway, with a typical salary of under $200 a month, from which they have to pay for their own rent and food. The labourers are forced to work twelve to fourteen hours a day, sometimes longer, under blistering heat. Human rights violations abound. Yet, Dubai is consistently praised on the global stage.

The Balance of Power in the Middle East

A proxy war continues to be waged in Yemen. Earlier this year, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels launched a successful insurrection that forced the Yemenite president to flee. In response, Saudi Arabia organized a coalition to defeat the Houthis, with the support of the United States, who is providing intelligence and weapons. In addition to air strikes, the coalition has imposed an aerial and naval blockade on Yemen. Nearly 80% of the Yemenite population is now in need of food and medical aid. Over 300,000 have been displaced. The Saudis are also preventing entry to journalists, helping to keep the world ignorant of the humanitarian crisis.

This is just one of several conflicts being fought indirectly between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are vying for supremacy in the Middle East. In Syria, too, Iran is supporting Assad’s regime while Saudi Arabia is arming the rebels. Over 200 of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops have already been killed, together with nearly a thousand more Hezbollah fighters whom they are funding.

Despite all the positive talk around the nuclear deal with Iran, it has only spurred the Saudis to develop their own nuclear weapons. On the 10th of October and the 21st of November, Iran tested ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in breach of UN Security Council resolutions. This has only made Saudi Arabia more nervous, while the “deeply concerned” US government has said that this “would not derail the nuclear deal.” Meanwhile, the ever-desperate North Korea has announced the development of a hydrogen bomb.

Of course, the above is just a small sample of the many critical issues taking place around the world. Having said that, it is important not to lose sight of all the positive things happening, too. While today’s media is constantly inundating us with a barrage of primarily negative images, the world is nonetheless rapidly progressing and improving. It is this thought that inspired the following video:

 

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The World Today, by Continent, Beliefs, and Language

After some 6000 years of civilized human history, the world today is divided into roughly 200 states. The United Nations officially recognizes 193 member states (with 2 more “observer states” and 6 which are “partially recognized”).

By continent, Europe has 47 states, Africa has 52, and Asia has 48. In the Americas, North and Central America have 26 states, while South America has 13. Oceania (which includes Australia and the Pacific Ocean nations) has 14.

Approximately 70 states have a Christian majority today, of which 14 nations have Christianity as a state religion. Christianity remains the world’s largest religion, with some 2.4 billion followers. However, this number is likely not very accurate, since many in the Western world may have been born Christian, but no longer practice any form of the religion, and may identify as atheists. For example, a 2014 Pew study found that nearly 23% of people in the United States report being religiously unaffiliated, even though the US is still considered the nation with the largest Christian population in the world.Muslim Populations Pew Research

Meanwhile, 49 states are currently Muslim-majority nations, with 1.2 billion Muslims living in these countries, and another half a billion living in other non-Muslim majority states. The Pew Research Center predicts that by 2050, Islam may be the world’s most populous religion, and by then, Nigeria will become the 50th Muslim-majority state.

Non-religious population of the world, by percentage, based on 2006 Dentsu Institute data and 2005 Zuckerman data
Non-religious population of the world, by percentage, based on 2006 Dentsu Institute data and 2005 Zuckerman data

Three countries have Hindu majorities (Nepal, India, and Mauritius), seven have Buddhist majorities (led by Cambodia), and only one has a Jewish majority (Israel). Approximately 10 states have an atheist or agnostic majority, led by Estonia, Japan, and Denmark.

By far, the most-commonly spoken language in the world is Mandarin, with nearly a billion speakers. Spanish is a distant second with roughly 400 million speakers, followed by English, with 360 million speakers. Filling the top ten, by millions of speakers, are: Hindi (310), Arabic (295), Portuguese (205), Bengali (200), Russian (160), Japanese (125), and Punjabi (100).

Despite all of this phenomenal diversity, pretty much everyone agrees that all of us came from the same source: whether it is Adam and Eve, as in the Abrahamic religions, or “Y-chromosomal Adam” and “mitochondrial Eve”, the genetic ancestors of all human beings, estimated by scientists to have lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

Ultimately, all of the Earth’s inhabitants are part of one, massive, dysfunctional family.

by garofanomarcio
by garofanomarcio

Sources:

2011 Pew Study on Christianity

2014 Pew Study on America’s Changing Religious Landscape

2015 Pew Study on Islam

List of religions by country (Wikipedia)

List of countries by continent (Wikipedia)

Language statistics from the 2010 Nationalencyklopedin

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