Tuesday, March 28, 2017

CONSCIOUSNESS



Waves, Jamestown, NC
Particles, Jamestown, NC


Science has been making some very profound discoveries and observations lately. USA TODAY announced in 2014 that the “smoking gun” needed to validate the inflation theory of the Big Bang has now been detected by a telescope in Antarctica. The team of U.S. scientists detected the tiny ripples in the cosmic microwave background that affected light created some 13.5 billion years ago. The universe was smaller than a marble just after the Big Bang when it expanded violently and instantaneously. The Bible is no science book and the narrative in Genesis simply states that our God, a conscious spiritual being, spoke the universe into existence. The three big things that astrophysicists are still looking for in the cosmos are dark matter, dark energy and extraterrestrial life. And science still does not have a good scientific answer for the creation of the universe.

Dr. Robert Lanza has been voted the third most important scientist alive by the NY Times. His initial background was in the biology field, but lately he has ventured into the world of physics, quantum mechanics and astrophysics. His biological perspective has enabled him to recently coin the term “biocentrism”, which postulates that life and consciousness are fundamental to the universe. In fact, he reasons that since the ultrafine-tuned laws, forces and constants of the universe sustain life, intelligence must have existed prior to matter. And it is consciousness that creates the material universe, not the common reverse theory. The mystery that is our consciousness can be defined as being mindful or aware of oneself as a thinking, feeling being. Our perception of our surroundings is limited to the brain’s interpretation of the stimuli received from our five senses. We humans have enough receptor cones in our eyes to see a rainbow of colors, but a dog cannot distinguish orange or red. “Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no observer is present”? We perceive the “sound” when disturbed air waves reach our ear drum and electrical impulses are interpreted by our brain. But no sound exists without an observer! The same logic follows with our other senses. Space and time are merely tools for our animal understanding and our God transcends them both.

Folks naturally identify themselves with their body, as we are conscious mortal beings. Many believe that when the body perishes, that’s it. But Lanza agrees with other scientists that no physical laws exist which would prohibit the existence of multiple universes. And our consciousness and soul may have been created right along with everything else at the Big Bang. Our nervous system and brain could be the receptors of this consciousness and the primary sites of quantum processing until our body expires. And then this information with our consciousness merges into another dimension apart from the body. In an era that now routinely resuscitates human bodies from clinical death, especially heart failures, more and more folks are returning back to the living with extraordinary spiritual accounts that try our sensibilities. The spectacular colors some perceive can only be related to our earthly experience with rare jewels.

One of the fascinating and thought-provoking premises of biocentrism is that “the animal observer creates reality and not the other way around…without perception there can be no reality”. Quantum theory tells us that everything in nature has a particle nature and a wave nature. Lanza discusses the “act of observation” in a famous two-hole experiment which “goes straight to the core of quantum physics…if one watches a sub-atomic particle or a bit of light pass through slits in a barrier…it behaves like a particle…it logically passes through one or the other hole…But if the scientists do not observe the particle, then it exhibits the behavior of waves that retain the right to exhibit all possibilities, including somehow passing through both holes at the same time”. German physicist Max Born demonstrated back in 1926 that quantum waves are waves of probability, not waves of material. This phenomenon applies to small discrete particles like photons or electrons. Large objects like a bus have smaller wavelengths that are too close together to be measured. A subatomic particle has been defined as a set of relationships that reach out and interconnect, not with objects, but with other interconnections. Lanza concludes that “without consciousness, matter dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state”. The Bible informs us that human beings were created for relationship with the reasoning power and free will to make the conscious decision to either accept or reject other human beings and even our Creator.

Bernard Haisch has proposed a mind bending theory about consciousness in his book, “The God Theory”. He contends that “ultimately it is consciousness that is the origin of matter, energy, and the laws of nature in this universe and all others that may exist. And the purpose is for God to experience his potential. God’s ideas and abilities become God’s experience in the life of every sentient being…God experiences the richness of his potential through us because we are the incarnations of him in the physical realm.” Many scientists are proponents of the universe of reductionism in which “everything can be reduced to the behavior of particles of matter and energy”, completely apart from any spiritual connection. As a learned astrophysicist Ph.D., he contends that our consciousness is the ultimate connection to God, the spiritual creative force in the universe and the source of all consciousness. While we are in our everyday state of consciousness, we remain aware of our surroundings through the filter of the physical world. But mystics who are conditioned to enter the unfiltered state of ultimate consciousness or nirvana experience a state of peace, love and bliss, something Haisch defines as “a concentration point within a single universal consciousness”. Haisch writes that “My inner life of thought and awareness utterly denies that my consciousness is nothing more than an inanimate, chemical creation. I know better, and so do you.”

Consciousness exists apart from the body and survives death. The temporary physical world was created for the development and evolution of conscious human beings. Our natural timeless home lies in the wider supernatural realm of our conscious spiritual Creator. We are not only IN this universe, but we are OF this universe. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians (4:4-5), "There is one body and one spirit...one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”. And we were created in God's image!

"The human consciousness is really homogeneous. There is no complete forgetting, even in death."--D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, March 23, 2017

WOOD WIDE WEBS



Blue Ridge Forest, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Forest Floor, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC


Enchanted forests are a thing of fairy tales where trees like the legendary Ents walk and talk and live in community—or are they? I’ve always enjoyed watching videos of graceful long legged and long necked giraffes on the African savannah browsing for food among the tree top canopies of umbrella thorn acacias. But I missed the subtle movement of these giraffes as they suddenly stopped eating and moved about 100 yards away to another acacia. Peter Wohlleben writes in his New York Times bestseller, The Hidden Life of Trees, that scientists recently discovered that the acacia trees immediately had begun to pump toxic substances into their leaves to ward off the herbivores. They also began to give off a warning gas of ethylene to signal neighboring acacias of the danger.

When an insect attacks beeches, spruce, and oaks they register pain as soon as the creatures begin to eat their leaves. The leaf tissue immediately begins to send out very slow electrical signals so that within hours defensive materials reach the leaves. The trees even release pheromones to summon beneficial predators. Surprisingly, both chemical and electrical signals are sent through fungal networks around tree roots. Individual tree roots extend more than twice the spread of the crown and become intermingled among other tree roots forming a “wood wide web”. There is an Oregon underground fungus colony known as mycelium that is estimated to be over 2,400 years old and extends for 2,000 acres. These signals are then passed along to other neighbors in the forest. Scientists have found that networked trees even share nutrients with each other if one of the trees is struggling and they will even keep a cut stump on life support for years, especially if the stump belonged to a harvested mother tree that had nourished the younger trees which are now thriving in the opened space.

Wohlleben writes that “A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.” He noted that a pair of trees that grow up alongside one another allowing each partner to share life-giving light and not infringing with dense branches in each other’s space have a sort of symbiotic relationship. And they can become so tightly interconnected at the roots that sometimes they even die together.

Dr. Suzanne Simard coined the term “wood wide web” after researching and writing her doctoral paper. She was studying the mystery of the decline of Douglas firs in Vancouver plantations where paper birches had been weeded out. After injecting stable and radioactive isotopes in a forest with both fir and beeches, she found that they were actively exchanging photosynthetic carbon in a mutually beneficial network! Each took different turns as “mother” depending on the season in a synergistic relationship similar to a caring human social network.

Isn’t it amazing that we humans can still learn so much for our own survival by observing the awesome behavior of the created nature around us?

PS
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today. I've finally realized that also applies to a lot of other things like going to the gym. And the best definition of a legacy is planting a tree whose shade you will never sit under.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

WATCHING YOUTH SPORTS


Youth Soccer, Leawood Kansas

I remember playing sports as a kid and listening to all the parents in the stands or on the sidelines shouting at the top of their lungs to their children on the field. Fortunately, I don’t recall that my parents did that to me. If they had, I might have quit organized sports long before I had played my last game. I still enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of sports, but I also keep it in perspective. I don’t like to lose and I play to win, but losing or hitting a bad shot only inspires me to work a little harder and practice a little more.

I never made it into the big time in sports. At my age, I definitely won’t ever make it into the big time! But I’m OK with that outcome as long as I’m still able to answer the bell and walk out onto the first tee of a beautiful golf course and drive the ball between the ditches onto the short grass. I once reported to a vice president that called all of us direct reports into his office one Monday morning. He had a short and direct message for us; “I understand you guys have been playing a lot of golf lately. If I ever hear that any of you has a single digit handicap, you’re fired because you obviously aren’t spending enough time on the job!” I’m still not sure if he was joking or not, but I never played enough golf to find out or win a tournament because I realized that it was important to find a balance in the basic aspects of my life—family, spiritual, work and leisure.

When I found myself on the sidelines with a young daughter on the field, I remembered the calls from parents when I played sports. My wife and I agreed early on that we would work on controlling our criticisms and focus on practice and encouragement. We discussed the proposition that we’d remain supportive of any initiative as long as we observed that she was giving it her best effort. And she always did that. But there were still parents beside us that I’m certain thought they were challenging their daughters to play better with shouts of “Hustle Jackie, Hustle!” And that only seemed to get negative results.

I recently ran across a shared article by Alex Flanagan, Ilovetowatchyouplay.com about youth sports that caught my attention. She quoted a thirty-year study where kids of all ages were asked “what their parents could say about the sports they played that would make them feel confident and fulfilled. Turns out the words children most want to hear from Mom and Dad are ‘I love to watch you play.’ It’s that easy.” And now that my retired soccer playing daughter and son-in-law have blessed our lives with a beautiful active grandson, I need to brand that advice into my aging brain for the duration!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I AM THE STORM


Meme, Colorado Plains

I converted one of my favorite photographs into a meme that I took years ago on the eastern plains of Colorado as a menacing summer storm approached with lightning, dark clouds and gusting winds. The stalwart wooden windmill had obviously weathered many such storms of life and was still resolutely standing tall, bracing itself to take on one more--and converting the winds into its own power!

This image speaks to me honoring the strength of the land, its people and the resilience of the human spirit.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

REVEALING SECRETS HAIKU



Whirling Sunbeams, Jamestown, NC
Mottled Sunbeams, Jamestown, NC


Bright whirling sunbeams,
streak to the labyrinth core,
revealing secrets.

The colors within,
encapsulated in glass,
dye secret gardens.

Camellia blooms,
absorb colors and unfurl,
revealing secrets.

Warm mottled sunbeams,
belie tomorrow’s secret,
of spring snow showers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

LOVE PERSONIFIED HAIKU


Instant Love, Chicago, IL

An imminent birth,
soon became reality,
and a child was born.

I scheduled a flight,
and traveled one thousand miles,
to meet my grandson.

I entered the room,
where the young child was laying,
serenely sleeping.

He was gently raised,
and I held a miracle,
love personified.

Friday, February 10, 2017

STRENGTHENING OUR LIVES


Sunrise Exercise, Body & Spirit, Kiawah Island, SC

Supervised physical therapy was a very critical aspect for the replacement of both my knee joints. I had known of others that complained the procedure hadn’t given them a whole lot of mobility, but they had also admitted that the difficult therapy caused them too much pain, so they didn’t finish the recovery process. Irreversible scar tissue immediately begins to form in the affected areas which is why it is so important to immediately begin physical therapy and overcome it. Also, my orthopedic doctor counseled me that I would know when to come back in for the operation based on how debilitating the joint would become. Since it is a natural reaction to favor a bum knee, we also allow the muscles and tendons around the joint to atrophy and they need to be stretched back into a stronger state that supports the joint. No pain, no gain!

All the above dictates that we begin physical therapy immediately after an operation. And the process sends natural pain signals to the brain that this area is experiencing some trauma. Normally, we associate these signals with something that is causing harm to our body and we react to neutralize the cause. But thankfully, I received a great reverse key thought from my therapist that sustained me to the end of a successful recovery. Her experience led her to remind me to focus on what was really going on in my body. She told me to focus on the key understanding that the perceived negative signals I was receiving were simply my body and brain communicating that I was experiencing “the process of weakness leaving my body”, being replaced by strength. This also applies to regular exercise and the consequences of ignoring it.

The process is definitely in play for our spirits. I still maintain that the only explanation for living in a broken world is the free will our Creator bestowed on us so that our relationships would be real. This was a big risk that could have only been made by a Creator that wanted us to grow in his created image. Creating beings that don’t have the free will to accept or reject doesn’t allow for the possibility of genuine love. Allowing us to make our own good or bad choices requires an environment in which they exist. I believe it didn’t have to be that way. We could have been created for eternal worship and left in a perfect environment, as other beings created before us. But genuine unconditional love requires work and good choices. It also requires grace when we imperfect beings fall. Love is strengthened when pain enters our lives and we have the desire and relationship that drives us to work through the trauma together.