This morning, a leading technologist form India sent me a piece on the chakras, which appears to come from the Hindu university of Florida, founded by Prof. K.C. Gupta, a prominent electrical engineer I once worked with
(who used one of the algorithms I developed in practical device design).
Here was my reply:
Happy New Year to you, too .. !
After kundalini yoga worked so well for me in 1972, when I first tried
it, I have wondered "how?" What is the underlying mechanism which
allows it to work?
And also -- why does it work so well for some people, with strong
immediate results in a few cases, but not so well in other cases?
My guess is that it depends mainly on what assumptions people bring to
Many people think of chakras in the same way as some Europeans used to
think about the pineal gland. They think of these as parts of their
bodies which they (their brain) can use to control a kind of
radio-like interface device to the spiritual world. And they try to
imagine the physics of whatever kind of radiation they think these
devices are using to interface with other people and with the
Perhaps one reason why kundalini yoga, traversing the chakras, worked
so well for me the first time was that it was the next stage in a
simple book, preceded by another exercise which focused "qi" or
"prana" in an interesting way, using a little mobile as a focus. (In
my case, the mobile was made up of little plastic fish, hanging from
strings to thin metal arms, able to spin about a center which itself
hung by string from an overhead light. I focused on it in relative
dark, focusing on light, feeling and movement.)
Very crudely, at some level, we are a symbiosis of "soul" and "body,' both.
If we think of a chakra as something which "we" (as soul, or operating
through the soul
"half" of our consciousness) manipulate in order to better interface
with our body
and the world of our body, RATHER THAN the other way around, we get a
better understanding of the real physics at work, and better practical
results. The power of the chakras is not how they connect to the
spiritual world, but how the spiritual side of us can use them to
better connect to the body. It only works if enough of our
is on the spiritual level that we can focus the qi or prana in the required way.
In fact... I had a more recent experience which felt very similar in a
way to the time when
I raised the kundalini to remarkable effect when first I tried it in
1972. The similarity of feeling is very important.
The recent experience was the result of my wife Ludmilla dragging me
and my younger son to a cruise from New York to Florida and Bahamas.
(I would not pay money for such things on my own, but there are many
reasons why I am happy to go with her.) We stayed in an inside cabin,
with no natural light at all. It was a good spiritual exercise, at
night, to cross the room without turning on any light or making any
sound which would disturb the sleep of Luda or of our son. At first,
seeing in the dark seemed impossible,
but after a few days it was not so hard. I deliberately did some
exercises at that time, to test and strengthen that learning a bit.
As I learned to adapt.. I noticed a sensation towards the back of my
head. And I noticed that I could accelerate my adaptation to the dark
each time by recalling and strengthening that sensation. In fact... it
seemed that it worked best if I sent exactly the same kind of feeling
and energy to that area as I once had, years ago, to the chakras.
I then realized... this area is of course also the area of the primary
visual cortex. It is the area one must stimulate in order to create a
visual image directly in the cerebral cortex.
The truth is -- years before I believed in spiritual reality, when I
thought that all our mind is in the brain, I was very interested in
learning how the brain works. I took Harvard's only course in
neuroscience in my freshman year, and I knew the basic geometry.
Because I believe in using empirical evidence as much as possible in
science, I decided to search for clues by doing some introspection,
watching the flow of events and information in my own brain -- for
example, in crucial places like the thalamus, which lies in the very
middle of the brain, perhaps a bit towards the front. It was not so
long after I started such experiments (in 1966-1967) that the
anomalous experiences started to happen which opened my mind, and put
me on this path.
What physics does the soul use to perturb the brain, the chakras and
the body as a whole -- and other parts of the world around us? There
is still a gap between what we really know in physics, and what we see
in life; there are many prerequisites we must master first before our
guesses about this are worth much. I have been working very hard on
those prerequisites.... and I do hope others will be able to continue
that after I die of old age.
As I think further about this example of seeing in the dark on the ship...
I naturally think about what it would take to "to see in the dark" in Washington DC,
in the murky world of complex decisions and murky motives and so on.
It reminds me of an ingredient which I took for granted in the dark room of the ship at night --
the Will to See. Of course, that will was there, and very intense, when I did not want to bump my foot or make a noise which would wake someone up. The Will to See is not always present in DC. In fact, people often quite willfully work to keep their eyes shut, for fear of what they might see. It is worse than what Greeley described,
in his really important report "Are We a Nation of Mystics?"
But even I have my limits, when I know it is not time to receive additional information, because I am not yet ready, and because I have a lot of other stuff I must cope with first. In working on physics challenges, I am often very conscious about structuring my focus, on one issue at a time, to prevent overload... within a context which still includes the other stuff, but focuses very hard. But.. a few days ago, I withdrew at another level, in a way I haven't since graduate school (a brief incident I never wrote down).
A few days ago... when trying to understand how calcite polarizers work ... I decided to put my little $20 calcite crystal on the night table next to my bed. Why not? And when my mind reached a "cosmic consciousness" level
in my usual nightly meditation in bed, and I was thinking in a more normal way about the issue of how light travels in these crystals (and how to model it)... I decided why not pick up that crystal, and look for a moment from a different perspective, and try to get another angle into how it works. I did get to the answer I was looking for (briefly summarized in the extended appendix of my new vixra paper)... but to my surprise I saw a bit more.
The powerful additional image... well, it reminded me of where Icelandic spar actually comes from.
(Volcanoes in Iceland, I think.) But then I was also quite aware of time symmetry at the time, and the flow of two directions... but I didn't want to get from.
What was the thing that happened in graduate school? One of many things that happened, but unique in its way.
For a couple of years, I lived in a graduate student dormitory, Child Hall, on the second floor. My room was on the side away from Harkness Common, where I went to eat and have tea with my friends. The dorm also had a small open common room (a bit like the reception areas in wings of NSF, where there are just a couple of couches where you can wait when you enter). It was decorated by a big color map of temperature variation,
showing how the gap between high and low temperatures in Boston was very extreme, "second only" to Siberia,
which was also on the map.
One evening, I was deep in conversation with a couple of friends in the Vedanta Society and with another friend,
Leo Cohen, in the clinical psychology PhD program, when the conversation got so deep... yet fuzzy in a way, because it was very late... when it seemed my consciousness was beginning to slip directly from my body to one of the others. THAT I recoiled form before it happened. I have at times wondered what would have happened if I had not recoiled.
Last night I had an assumption/materialization experience which was more interesting, but perhaps a bit much even for an obscure blog. BUt why not a very crude summary? OK -- assumption into student wanting help
in an ecological university of the future (whose very existence even as a possibility is somewhat cheering),
all goes well; then he comes back, meets female friend in his room, decides it is time for me to go. But she decides otherwise, creating what I now analyze as a conflict of wills. So I just plain materialize as I am, an old man, sitting on the couch, a third person, with even some echoes of other intellectual old men in the background. Not at all a ghost scene (something I have seen before, albeit more from the ghost perspective); the only lack of perception of me on their part was lack of clearly seeing I am an old man compared to them.
Whatever. Can't prove anything of course, and don't ask for anyone else to take it seriously. Could be like the last part of Solaris, which we watched again yesterday. (Luda and I watched it... our first time in decades.)
Who knows? But I do wonder, as there have been veridical aspects in previous experience with assumption.
Actually, the most logical interpretation for me is that this was all at an "astral" level, a kind of simulation
within the noosphere, where future possibilities (with later veridical content) can play out in surprising detail,
and where assumption certainly can occur, sometimes at four levels at once in my experience. But is it that simple? For now, our hard core physics needs to hang on very tight to 3+1 dimensions, because we need to understand 3+1 dimensions better than we do; however, the larger reality might or might not be so simple.
We do not yet know what time games might ultimately teach us.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
As I write, it is a beautiful calm Christmas morning. As I eat some delicious duck soup and milk… I feel called to pass on a few things from our family get-together yesterday for Christmas Eve. Last night, a friendly relative (let’s call her “Kitty”) from a “red state” asked good questions – which is an important spiritual activity in itself. And so she evoked some candid truth.
First – the tale of the spiritual couch potato.
Decades ago, I was one of the people who set up a new Quaker school focused heavily on three key goals – to nourish and strength the full power of children’s brains, bodies and souls. What would happen to our physical bodies if we treated them the way some people treat their souls?
Imagine a kind of lodge or living room for people dedicated to physical fitness. Physical fitness is the supreme goal they pursue in their lives. Imagine them all sitting on a gigantic couch, drinking beer, in front of a gigantic TV screen. They don’t just watch football – they dedicate their lives to watching football. They feel proud that they are devoted to physical fitness and to football, and that they have tremendous loyalty to their team. But the only exercise they get is screaming for their team and against the other team. Their bodies become hopelessly fat, diabetic, diseased… and prematurely dead, in the end. One day, when a guy walks into the lodge with a normal body shape, sweating and a bit quite after a grueling fifty mile hike, they all look at him – even scream at him – with contempt. Where is his loyalty to the cause of physical fitness, as witnessed on the TV? To his team… And as for exercise, that is heresy, except for the one exercise of screaming… which really isn’t the best path to health.
Not that exercise of the soul is easy or trivial. (Nor is exercise of the brain or body.) It was a major large effort in setting up that school. Beyond the scope of this post.
Kitty pressed hard to everyone in the room at one point: “Do you really believe in the existence of a higher, greater intelligence?” After she and the younger generation stared at each other, I said: “Please forgive… but it’s time to tell a joke. It’s really not true but it feels right for this moment: For my part, I really do believe in a higher intelligence, but I am deeply troubled by the question of whether it runs on Linux or on the Mac operating system. It couldn’t be running Windows, because if it were lots of people would have hacked the universe by now.”
Later, more quietly, I felt she deserved a better answer. “To be honest, Kitty, I was convinced that all that spiritual stuff is totally absolute nonsense, until I was 19. But then … “ I told her the Mao/newspaper story (see http://www.werbos.com/Space_personal_Werbos.htm). “After that, I decided I would be 50-50 about the possibility that life is more than it seems. I was NOT convinced to just reverse my thinking, but I was convinced that I should be open-minded and open eyed… and look very intensely to try to see what’s going on. The effect of that over a few years… was pretty heavy.
“I remember going home to my family then… My mother was an intense Catholic, but my was never part of that when I was young. I told my father that I was changing my views of life… and I wondered whether he would say I was losing it. I was a bit surprised when he said: ‘We were wondering when you would finally start to grow up. What do you think both sides of your family have been doing for centuries? And what do you think my business is based on? For many years, my clients have learned that if they take me out for lunch and have enough beer… I can tell them their future. And…’ I asked him why he never told me all this before. He replied: ‘Because it has to come from inside of you. If it comes from some kind of belief or ideology from outside you, it turns into a useless fantasy, or worse. It blocks you from seeing or appreciating the real thing.’”
But Kitty was still not satisfied. (Good for her!). “But you still haven’t told me. Do you believe in a superior being or not. You told me about Quakers, but what do Quakers BELIEVE?”
I did mention how Quakers in this area can generally be clustered into Christocentric Quakers (who view themselves as a sect of Christianity) versus Quaker Universalists (which is where I would put myself here). I said... for people rooted in experience, experience is complex, and we hesitate to try to reduce it to a few simple words which we expect people could misunderstand one way or another. "But... I can tell a story which gives some feeling for it. I remember years ago when a woman named Mary Lord got up and spoke in Meeting. You should understand – people are not supposed to get up and speak in Meeting unless they feel they have really heard an authentic voice of the spirit, what you might call ‘the Voce of God.’ Mary had spent years exercising the meditation practice of Quakerism, and in working for world peace in a serious diligent way. And as she did so, she began to appreciate the importance of world environmental problems, and the Gaia movement, and the spirit we share in common on this earth. So she spoke in Meeting: ‘I realized the importance of better tuning into our mother, the earth, but it didn’t come naturally to me in my practice, and others I talked to could not help me with that kind of real spiritual attunement. Who could introduce me to our mother? And so I realized – who knows our mother? Our Father of course. So I asked him, and he took care of it, and it worked.”
“That’s a pretty personal way of looking at it,” said the uberMarine sitting next to me on the other side. “Yes… real life IS personal.” More precisely – that which is alive has personality (unless you count the universe itself, which is not “alive” in the way we usually use that word). I view “Gaia” as a kind of popularization or shorthand for the concept of “noosphere,” which I have talked about in a more detailed technical way at times in this blog.
So that’s the basic story, but there are a few postscripts.
One time, when we had a meeting of Quakers and parents to discuss setting up the new school, we had some discussion of things we could do to exercise the soul.
At one point I said: “Posing a really hard math challenge is one way to do it.”
I remember the face expression of the woman (a parent) who looked puzzled and then said: “I guess I can see that. If the math problem is hard enough, you could generate some really intense sincere prayer..” I felt a bit like laughing. That was valid, but it wasn’t what I was thinking. I was thinking of… something I would now call.. the pure clear light of truth… an exercise of the whole mind, freeing itself from the usual invisible Lilliput ropes of society and thought which ties us down.. a hard exercise, like climbing a mountain, but an invigorating and healthy one too.
I was very happy on Christmas Eve to receive an email from good old Eshua of the House of David, saying he liked my latest venture in pursuit of the clear light of truth… in foundations of quantum theory, a subject he is getting into more himself.
The newest paper is supposed to be posted on arxiv.org today – and my next homework assignment is to explain how to CONNECT the two new papers, the methods for discrete and continuous variables. Bouncy basins of attraction and all that…
A couple of other minor notes…
We showed videos of our road trip last summer
including West Point. “I was surprised that West Point was founded on almost the same three points as our Quaker School! But for development of the soul, they mainly chose football..”
And: I mentioned how a woman asked me this week: “Are you a Believer?” I didn’t say much in response.. but perhaps the real answer is “I am less of a Believer than anyone you have ever met in your life. It is better to see than to believe… and it is better to face up to uncertainty when you do not see or know…” (Though facing up to uncertainty does Not mean acting like a jellyfish or picking negative extremes.)
Yet… a certain kind of “faith” in staying alive and moving?
There are a lot of things in life today which require a whole lot more of what some folks call “faith,” keeping at it… as the old Disney children’s films used to emphasize. In discussing that with Luda this morning… it reminds me of the time I walked from a waterfront town in Italy, called Moltrasio (sp?), towards the Swiss border. The walk started with a stretch of trail I found very hard at the time, labeled with The Twelve Stages of the Cross. If you think of the goal of getting to the end of the trail, you could fall into despair.. . but if you focus on one stage at a time, you can see that despair is not needed or rational. I was worried at the time, because I knew the whole trail was much longer... but somehow, after the top of the twelve stages, the clearer air invigorated me and it was easier to go much faster. With so many big challenges today, there are people who think of the big challenge and get lost and confused… and others stuck in the mud who make no real progress… but seeing what the stages are ahead, and how they fit together, and struggling for one at a time… well, it sounds pretty easy, but for most of the challenges I deal with most people have freaked out, given up, or otherwise lost their way.
But next… one of those, the hybrid quantum optics things…