“To fathom hell or soar angelic just take a pinch of psychedelic.” -Humphry Osmond
When we talk about drugs, we have to keep in mind that the word ”drug” is a general term used for a vast variety of substances and plants which has physiological and biological effects on humans. Sugar and coffee, for example, are just a few on the list.
Are all drugs bad? Are all drugs good? Is there a difference between chemicals and plants? Can a truthful education about this matter prevent the negative effects caused by the bad drugs and reveal the benefits of the good ones?
In my previous article: ‘’The Catalysts for Change: Why consciousness expanding plants are feared and deemed illegal?’’, I have proposed an idea of education which is not exactly the type of education we were exposed to in schools. Although some of the things which are taught in schools might be useful later on in life, the absence of truthful drug education in the curriculum can and actually does cause harm, potentially leading to undesirable consequences. I wish I would have had this kind of education during my youth. It sure would have spared a lot of problems for me, my parents and countless other people I knew, some of whom didn’t live long enough to know better.
Is the fear instilled on us by the government slogans: ‘’Say No to Drugs’’, effective? Does this prevent the people from having their lives ruined by the dangerous street drugs, not knowing the difference nor the alternatives?
Is it not the time to have a honest talk?
How about we start from the worse and talk about heroin and cocaine which are found in abundance on the streets of every city. What do we actually know about these substances?
Well, neither heroin nor cocaine in the form which is available on the streets is natural; both are processed chemicals.
Let’s talk about heroin first. Heroin is a street name for a synthesized morphine which is naturally occurring alkaloid in the opium poppy. Morphine is a classic example for abused medicine. Morphine is a powerful analgesic which should be only used for medical purposes. Does the abuse of morphine means that the opium poppy is bad? Of course not. The poppy grows for a reason and has a specific purpose.
Is heroin bad? Yes, if abused. If not, it’s an analgesic medicine.
What is cocaine? Well, what you buy on the street as cocaine is not really cocaine. Cocaine is one of 14 alkaloids found in the coca leafs which we call Sacred in the Andes. On every shamanic altar you will find coca leafs which are prayed with and made as an offering. Coca is truly a gift from Mother Nature. It gives you the strength and stamina when needed, fights fatigue and suppresses thirst and hunger. Make you work or walk all day in the mountains without food, water or getting tired. This is how people survive in the Andes. Fernando Cabieses Molina, respected Peruvian neurosurgeon and educator, founder of Peru’s National Institute of Traditional Medicine, world-renowned authority and longtime defender of native use of herbal medicines including coca, has studied the chemical properties of coca leaf and cocaine for 40 years. He argues that the coca leaf, when chewed in quantity, relieves hunger, thirst and fatigue. His conclusion was certain: chewing coca leafs does not produce the euphoria, anxiety, depression or addiction that is experienced by cocaine users. He further explains that extraction of one alkaloid results in a qualitatively different substance, which like the distinctive methods by which it is introduced into the body, produces different physiological consequences. It is, as he says, “…as if instead of smoking or chewing tobacco, we refined and injected it…”
I do agree and can support the doctor’s views with my own humble experience. Chewing coca is not addictive. It is impossible to get addicted to the leaf. I have been chewing and drinking coca for six consecutive years, and in big quantities when needed. Then, when I don’t need it, I don’t use it.
You are being served coca tea in every restaurant and hotel while being in Cusco or the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. This is the way of the Andes.
But is the same coca that reaches you? No! What’s reaching you is one extracted alkaloid which then gets mixed with methamphetamines (synthetic drugs) to increase its weigh and thus the profit to the manufacturer. And this is where the problem starts. The synthetic additives are causing the addiction and consequently psychosis.
Is cocaine bad? Yes but not the Coca. Coca is stimulating, highly nutritive, longevity medicine.
It contains proteins, vitamins and high concentration of calcium. Coca is pure medicine when respected and used in traditional way.
It’s how we use the plant that matters.
Let’s say that you left the fire on in the chimney on the way out from your house. Then when you have returned, you found your house burnt to the ground. Is the fire bad? But is it not the same fire that keeps you warm and helps you cook your food?
When you hear about violent crimes when firearm is used, do you blame the guns or the people using them?
Is it not the same gun that can protect your family from home invasion, robbery, rape or murder?
It’s how we use the tools that matters.
When we dealing with any tools and forms of energy, we need to remember that they are morally transparent and it is our intention that gives them the color. A responsible and knowledgeable use of medicinal plants and psychedelics can be beneficial just as the mindless use of legal substances can be destructive.
Before we proceed to the other category of plants, let us remind ourselves that the two plants above are related to sedatives and stimulants, not to psychedelics or consciousness expanding plants, which are completely different story.
Psychedelic simply means: mind manifesting, a term first sculpted out from the clay of words by doctor Hampry Osmand while preparing for the psychiatric conference in 1956. He was the same doctor who has administrated mescaline, a naturally occurring alkaloid in San Pedro and Peyote cactus, to Aldous Huxley who wrote about his experience in his epic book, “the Doors of Perception’’, which took off like a wild fire, sparkling both delight and critique. Although being aware of the book, for the first time I’ve read it when I already have had 10 years of experience and roughly 700 mescaline journeys, always done in shamanic setting, and was rather looking for faults in Huxley’s writing. Found none, however, I was rather humbled by such a brilliant account of his. He has definitely seen the essence and touched the heart of the mystical experience, to which mescaline served as the key unlocking the forbidden doors of perception.
We should look at psychedelics as powerful tools for studying the inner world of man, just as the telescope is used as an instrument to study stars. That which is seen and learned through the telescope will remain unknown for the man who looks at the stars with the naked eye. And just as the telescope is helping to focus the light emitted from the darker corners of the cosmos, thus making it seen, in similar manner psychedelics are helping us to focus the attention on our consciousness, magnifying it to a comprehensible size.
But what is a psychedelic experience?
Well, for certain, it is not contained in the words describing it. It is in fact a wordless, internal and intimate encounter with the Other, which has many faces. Some of these astonishing, others are bearing teaching. When we refer to the mescaline experience in particular, the closest word to describe an indescribable experience would be: ‘’beatific vision’’, as it has been rightly noted earlier by mystics. We can write poetry about it and still be far from the experience itself. Words are only symbols, a finger pointing to the moon, not the moon themselves. ‘’Words are utter but fail to enlighten’’- as Aldous Huxley has precisely said.
Through mescaline, one gains admission to the real world, escaping limitations of the linguistic prison, which although is rich with a tapestry of words and concepts, is still a prison.
The validation of this experience is a personal quest and a solitary journey, even when taken together with others. It’s like life and death; we are born and die alone. Same with the psychedelic journey. A mescaline experience is capable of opening the inner vision, revealing the unseen. It is a key with which you can unlock the mental shackles and set your mind free. It is the fuel we need to reach the stars without taking off the ground.
But a psychedelic experience cannot be viewed and studied only scientifically as merely a chemical reaction in the brain. In addition to this kind of study, the scientists who are on the case must have the experience themselves. How can one otherwise learn about the water without ever getting wet? This whole phenomenon belongs to another order, another realm of consciousness which undeniably exists although cannot to be measured or captured on the screen. It belongs to metaphysics, which is a fundamental part of a human existence.
As I have myself been interested in the eastern spiritual paths long before I met shamanic plants, divine cactus of Peru and Mexico in particular, I could deeply relate to Huxley’s search and feel his passion for the direct spiritual experience of an objective reality. The stupendous beauty of the world engulfed with life and meaning, which is always present behind the veil of an ordinary perception of reality, which can be gently lifted by the grace of the mescaline cacti, is that very same place which has been known for ages by the Sufis, sages and mystics of the East.
Born an atheist in the Soviet Union in a Jewish family, I was looking for God all my life, trying to prove that God does not exist. But only after having my psychedelic experiences on mescaline, I began to understand that I was looking for God in the wrong places. The God I found was not living in the buildings. Nor present in the books.
During the years, I was pondering the questions such as: was the psychedelic experience real? Was it subjective? Was it a shortcut to Enlightenment? Was it beneficial to me and our species?
I wanted to find my own answers to my questions, knowing that I cannot take opinions of other people for an answer. Those, to me, would be merely words.
So here, I would like to share some of my answers to myself which perhaps you will find useful to you as well. My view is an ordinary view of non-ordinary reality which under certain conditions is accessible to all.
Is the psychedelic experience real?
Well, that depends on what we think as being real. If we think that real is something we can touch with our hands, then the answer is NO. But if real means something which can be observed and repeatedly experienced, then the answer is YES.
Is this experience subjective?
Yes. Any type of experience can only be subjective since any experience requires a subject to be experienced. Thus objective reality can be only experienced subjectively.
Is this a shortcut to Enlightenment?
This question would first demand a definition of Enlightenment. If enlightenment means something different that the act of bringing the light into our own ignorance about ourselves and the world we are living in, while making us aware of our own embodied consciousness which was lucky enough to experience life thought the human body, which together with the galactic mass rotates in the limitless space on a tiny but beautiful cosmic oasis we call Earth, while realizing the miracle of life made of cosmic dust, which in fact is an illusion that irrefutably exists, then I would not know the answer. But if enlightenment means that expanded and all inclusive consciousness which can recognize itself in all other life forms, while remaining a sovereign point of perception of the infinite reality of which it is also a part, then the answer is YES. But would this ‘’shortcut’’ not be welcomed if it allows a man to live a normal life as human being, a life of joy and love, while exploring his own consciousness and finding God in the atom? Would the fast-track not be welcomed as opposed to the tedious work and a lifelong, self-restraining path prescribed to eastern adepts?
I am mortal; I want it now and I want it all.
Said that, however, I do not mean to put down the ancient eastern paths which indeed are valid. In fact, Huxley’s study and involvement in Vedanta for over 20 years has allowed him to recognize the essence of the mescaline experience, transfiguring a psychedelic journey into a spiritual one. This psychedelic spirituality or as we also call it an evolutionary shamanism simply means the use of the energy of the psychoactive plants to ponder the nature of reality and ourselves in it, as oppose to the traditional shamanism which mainly deals with healing.
There is still an open debate about whether or not a glimpse of awakening guided by psychedelics substances and plants is valid and equal to the eastern paths of mysticism. Here, perhaps we can answer this question with another question: does the way to knowledge matter more than the knowledge itself? Is the method paramount to results? If both can lead to the same levels of being and understanding, then what would be the difference and what are the indications of one being inferior or superior to the other?
Both ways are valid and can be complementary. Both must be experienced.
It is important to note that a millennium long rich spiritual tradition of India, which is active to this day, has created a certain egregor of enlightenment which serves as a fertilizer for its own kind. Deeply embedded in the culture, its influence still gives birth to a sporadic awakening in people of this land. For us, westerners, who have been disconnected from our spiritual roots, first by religion and later by science (or shall we say scientism, for science has become dogmatic), and whose perception of reality has been conditioned and narrowed down to the world of superstition and physical appearances, incapable of seeing beyond either – another type of help is needed, that which is capable of catapulting us into the realm of consciousness where saints feel at home.
Is psychedelic experience beneficial?
Well, that would depend on the person. There is no cure for stupidity. But generally speaking, a responsible use of psychedelics can be quite beneficial not only to the person who is experiencing but for his family, his surrounding and ultimately to the world we live in. It can be liken to the alchemical process during which the impurities in man are burnt, while purifying him into a better person.
If the experience is able to have an impact on our behavior patterns, while helping us stop being destructive to ourselves and others, if it can trigger both physiological and psychological healing, helping a person to get rid of alcohol and drug addictions while in itself remaining non-addictive remedy, if it has the capacity to open artistic abilities which otherwise would remain in the latent form, and make one think, thus contributing to cultivation of peace, love and consciousness within oneself and surrounding, then what would be the answer?
Said that, however, it is also important to mention that no psychedelic substances or plants should be taken lightly. It is a serious undertaking for mature and responsible people who are looking for healing, understanding and expansion of their perception of reality, and willing to engage with life, instead escaping it.
See this short documentary interview with Sergey:
“To fathom hell or soar angelic just take a pinch of psychedelic.” -Humphry Osmond
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com
Sometimes, it’s the most fantastical, fictional characters that do the best job of teaching us about reality.
New York Times bestselling author T.A. Barron spent decades creating the magical image of Merlin the wizard and sharing his wisdom with children and young adults through the beloved 12-book Merlin Saga series. Now, he’s bringing back his recognized (and revered) character to answer a question anyone experiencing a dramatic change in his or her life wants, on some level, to ask.
“I have written so many books about Merlin that sometimes, I feel like I’ve actually met the great wizard — and who knows, maybe I have,” said Barron in one of his YouTube videos. “If I met Merlin in his crystal cave, I’d ask him just one question: What is the meaning of life? And if there is any meaning, how can I find it?”
This thought exercise inspired a celebrated speech at Oxford University in 2013, which in turn inspired a new book, The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. Inside, Barron uses Merlin’s voice to explain how each person can find and travel along his or her own unique path in life. He reveals how magic surrounds and lives within each and every person — we just have to be willing to search for it.
Based on excerpts from Barron’s book, here are seven moving words that hold the key to a meaningful life — plus one more that empowers them all.
To be wholly alive is to be grateful — for every breath we take, every song we sing, every person we love, every day we discover. Just being grateful helps us to notice and appreciate all the blessings and opportunities around us.
Each day, take a moment to just be. To love a person, a place, or an idea that has touched your heart. Cherish those blessings through all the seasons of a year — and all the seasons of your life.Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
You see, life can have great meaning — but only if we discover that meaning for ourselves. Meaning can’t be bought at any store. And it can’t be handed down like a coat that someone tells you will fit perfectly before you’ve even tried it on. Meaning must be sought and earned and made one’s own. All of which requires courage.
Be bold with your life! Live vigorously and gently, mindfully and sensuously. Explore whatever calls to you. Love fully and freely. Run as fast as you can; walk as slow as you can.
Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
Knowledge, surprising as it sounds, begins with the unknown. With accepting how little you know. A few drops of humility, I’ve learned, can save me from an ocean of arrogance! Then, with a touch of curiosity… a person can learn and grow endlessly.
There are two universes to explore — one inside yourself and one outside. And here’s the best part: How far you travel in each, and what you discover, is entirely up to you.
Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
Follow your faith, as a river flows to the sea — and you will find yourself lapped by the gentle waves of the spiritual ocean that surrounds us all. To swim in that sea is to join with a greater power, a deeper awareness, a higher truth. And also… a quiet, enduring joy.
Just remember: For your belief to be right, the beliefs of others need not be wrong! If you are truly secure in your own faith, truly touched by its wisdom and strength — then you don’t need to convert anyone else.
Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
Wonder is the elemental wisdom of a child, a wisdom that is wide open to awe. For children see the world afresh, in all its beauty and strangeness, mystery and delight.
To wonder is to open the doorway to imagination. And that leads to other doorways — appreciation, creativity, and fulfillment.
At the core of wonder is openness — being present, with all your senses alive. If you set out on a mission seeking wonder, you won’t find it. Instead, take off your shoes, walk barefoot in the world… and allow it to happen.
Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
Generosity is not giving others what they want. Rather, it’s giving away what you yourself want. Sharing requires empathy. So the physical act of making a gift is only part of what happens. It’s the visible result of an earlier, invisible gift from the heart.
Plant some generous seeds in the soil of your life. Yes — seeds that could grow into trees you may never see, in whose shade will gather people and creatures you may never meet. They will find joy and safety and solace under those boughs… and they will thank the person who made it possible.
Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
Hope requires courage. Especially in our troubled world, with so much darkened by the shadow of despair, hope can seem elusive. Or even impossible. Yet hope can return, on silent wings, when most needed.
Cynicism is the enemy of hope, always doubting that improvement (or even virtue) is possible. But fresh thinking is the ally of hope, reminding us of ways we can do better.
Blow on the embers of hope in yourself. Strengthen them into flames, For those are the fires where new worlds are born.Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
Love is an invitation, not a command. But if you truly open yourself to its power, you will be swept away as if you had plunged into a mighty river. Where that river may carry you, no one can predict.
The paradox of love is that it beckons us to go deep within ourselves to find a soul-level understanding of another person. But once that understanding is found — we are bonded with that person so that we expand far beyond ourselves. We are, at once, deeper within and further without.
Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)
For the complete collection of life wisdom from Merlin and his creator, check out The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron.
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com
As a society, we don’t talk much about emotions. Conversations tend to focus more on what we’re doing or what we’re thinking. In fact, most people find it easier to start sentences with, “I think…” instead of “I feel…” simply because it feels less awkward.
Most of us are never educated about feelings. Instead, we’re expected to learn socially acceptable ways to deal with feelings by watching the people around us. But the truth is, many people don’t role model healthy ways to deal with feelings.
Social norms differ over what is considered acceptable in terms of talking about feelings and dealing with them. There are many cultural differences about how to identify and manage emotions as well. In fact, most languages have words for certain emotions that don’t have equivalent translations — Popular Science recently shared 21 emotions for which there are no English equivalents.
It’s no wonder there is a lot of confusion about emotions. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about emotions:
1. I should feel differently. So often people will say things like, “I know I shouldn’t be so upset over something so little,” or, “I really should be happier than I am.” There aren’t any rules that dictate that your emotional reaction is wrong, however. Rather than waste energy beating yourself up over how you feel, accept that you feel that particular emotion right now and recognize that you have choices in how you react to that emotion.
2. I can’t control how I feel. Even though your emotions aren’t wrong, that doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck in a particular mood. You can certainly choose to make changes that will influence the way you feel. If you want to change the way you feel, change the way you think and behave .
3. Venting will make me feel better. A widely held misconception is that if you’re not talking to everyone about your feelings, you must be “suppressing your emotions” or “stuffing your feelings.” But research shows that the opposite is true — at least when it comes to anger. Punching a pillow or calling everyone you know to tell them how bad your day was will only increase your arousal and won’t make you feel better.
4. Trying to control my emotions is synonymous with behaving like a robot. Sometimes people think that regulating their emotions means trying to act as if they don’t have feelings. But, that’s not the case. A realistic view of emotions shows that we’re capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions, but we don’t have to be controlled by those emotions. After a hard day, choosing to do something to help you feel better — as opposed to staying in a bad mood – is a healthy skill.
5. Other people have the power to make me feel certain emotions. So often, people will say things like, “My boss makes me so mad,” or, “My mother-in-law makes me feel bad about myself.” But in reality, no one can make you feel anything. Other people may influence how you feel, but you are the only one in charge of your emotions.
6. I can’t handle uncomfortable emotions. When people doubt their ability to tolerate certain emotions, it leads to avoidance. Someone who experiences frequent bouts of anxiety may pass up opportunities to be promoted. A person who feels uncomfortable with confrontation may avoid meeting with a co-worker to problem-solve a situation. Learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions directly builds confidence. When you don’t allow your emotions to rule your behavior, you’ll learn you can handle a lot more than you imagined.
7. Negative emotions are bad. It’s easy to categorize emotions as being good or bad, but feelings in themselves aren’t positive or negative. It’s what we choose to do with those emotions that can make the difference. Anger, for example, often gets a bad rap. While some people make horrible choices when they’re mad, other people choose to use anger in a proactive manner. Many of the world’s positive changes wouldn’t have ever occurred if activists hadn’t gotten angry about injustices they witnessed.
8. Showing emotion is a sign of weakness. While it’s a healthy social skill to be able to behave professionally even when you’re not feeling at the top of your game, letting your guard down at socially appropriate times isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, being aware of your emotions and making a conscious decision to share those emotions with others — when it’s socially appropriate to do so — can be a sign of strength.
Developing an awareness and understanding of your emotions can be difficult when you’re not used to thinking about how you feel. Just like most skills in life, with practice you’re ability to recognize, tolerate and regulate your emotions will improve. Increased emotional self-awareness is key to building mental strength and achieving success in your personal and professional life.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com
Lack of self-control is at the root of many personal and social ills, from alcoholism to obesity. Even when we are well aware of the costs, many of us are simply unable to curb our desires and control our impulses. Indeed, so daunting is this psychological challenge that an estimate four in every ten American deaths is attributed to self-control failure of one kind or another.
Yet many other people do succeed at self-regulation, all the time and seemingly with ease. Why is that? Why, in the face of everyday temptation, do some individuals fail miserably while others coast by unscathed?
Psychological scientists have been puzzling over this problem for years, but the answer remains elusive. Recently, researchers in the U.S. and Europe have been taking a different approach. They have been trying to integrate different disciplines, and different investigative strategies, to see if this approach might illuminate the dynamics of desire and self-control. Among those scientists is the University of Cologne’s Wilhelm Hofmann, who with colleagues has been combining neuroimaging and experience sampling, searching for brain markers that predict whether people give in to their desires (or resist) in daily life. Hofmann discussed some of this ongoing work this week in Amsterdam, at the first International Convention of Psychological Science, a meeting organized specifically to share such innovative cross-disciplinary research.
It’s difficult to study individual desire and self-discipline, because many self-reports are biased and unreliable. To get around this obstacle, Hofmann and his colleagues used an fMRI scanner to observe subjects’ brains as they viewed appetizing foods–desserts, fast foods, and so forth. Specifically, they recorded neural activity in the volunteers’ nucleus accumbens, or NAcc, a region of the forebrain associated with pleasure and reward. They also recorded neural activity in the inferior frontal gyrus, or IFG, while volunteers were performing a self-control task. The IFG plays an important part in inhibiting action.
The scientists wanted to see if neural activity in these two brain regions predicted actual desire and self-regulation in these volunteers’ daily lives. So after the brain scanning was completed, the scientists gave the subjects Blackberries, which they used for a week of experience sampling: Each day, the scientists signaled the subjects every two hours, or seven times a day, and had them complete a short survey. They reported on any desires they might have experienced in the previous half hour, the strength of those desires, their resistance to the desire, and finally, whether they had given into the desire and eaten–and if so, how much.
The idea was to see if neural markers for desire and resistance, taken together, could identify individuals who are more likely to give in to temptation to eat, hour by hour. And they did, clearly. Neural reactivity in the NAcc in response to tempting snacks and sweets–this brain activity significantly predicted the strength of subjects’ desire for food, their failure to control their desires, and even how much they ate. Additionally, those who recruited the IFG when faced with a self-control task–these subjects were less likely to succumb to temptation in daily life–and they also ate less.
These findings demonstrate the importance of individual differences in how people experience and respond to everyday temptation. These differences–how well or poorly individuals exert control in the face of temptation–appear to arise from brain mechanisms for both reward processing and regulation of responses. It’s not just that people with self-control problems respond abnormally to food cues, and it’s not just that they fail to inhibit their actions–it’s apparently both. These abnormalities–and their neural signatures–may very well underlie other appetites and addictions, including binge drinking, compulsive gambling and risky sex.
WrayHerbert is reporting this week from the first International Convention of Psychological Science in Amsterdam.
|Artist’s impression of Gliese 581d, a controversial exoplanet that may exist only 20 light-years from Earth.|
Excerpt from news.discovery.com
Despite having discovered nearly 2,000 alien worlds beyond our solar system, the profound search for exoplanets — a quest focused on finding a true Earth analog — is still in its infancy. It is therefore not surprising that some exoplanet discoveries aren’t discoveries at all; they are in fact just noise in astronomical data sets.
But when disproving the existence of extrasolar planets that have some characteristics similar to Earth, we need to take more care during the analyses of these data, argue astronomers from Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Hertfordshire.
In a paper published by the journal Science last week, the researchers focus on the first exoplanet discovered to orbit a nearby star within its habitable zone.
Revealed in 2009, Gliese 581d hit the headlines as a “super-Earth” that had the potential to support liquid water on its possibly rocky surface. With a mass of around 7 times that of Earth, Gliese 581d would be twice as big with a surface gravity around twice that of Earth. Though extreme, it’s not such a stretch of the imagination that such a world, if it is proven to possess an atmosphere and liquid ocean, that life could take hold.
And the hunt for life-giving alien worlds is, of course, the central motivation for exoplanetary studies.
But the exoplanet signal has been called into doubt.
Gliese 581d’s star, Gliese 581, is a small red dwarf around 20 light-years away. Red dwarfs are known to be tempestuous little stars, often generating violent flaring outbursts and peppered in dark features called starspots. To detect the exoplanet, astronomers measured the very slight frequency shift (Doppler shift) of light from the star — as the world orbits, it exerts a tiny gravitational “tug”, causing the star to wobble. When this periodic wobble is detected, through an astronomical technique known as the “radial velocity method,” a planet may be revealed.
Last year, however, in a publication headed by astronomers at The Pennsylvania State University, astronomers pointed to the star’s activity as an interfering factor that may have imitated the signal from an orbiting planet when in fact, it was just noisy data.
But this conclusion was premature, argues Guillem Anglada-Escudé, of Queen Mary, saying that “one needs to be more careful with these kind of claims.”
“The existence, or not, of GJ 581d is significant because it was the first Earth-like planet discovered in the ‘Goldilocks’-zone around another star and it is a benchmark case for the Doppler technique,” said Anglada-Escudé in a university press release. “There are always discussions among scientists about the ways we interpret data but I’m confident that GJ 581d has been in orbit around Gliese 581 all along. In any case, the strength of their statement was way too strong. If the way to treat the data had been right, then some planet search projects at several ground-based observatories would need to be significantly revised as they are all aiming to detect even smaller planets.”
The upshot is that this new paper challenges the statistical technique used in 2014 to account for the signal being stellar noise — focusing around the presence of starspots in Gliese 581′s photosphere.
Gliese 581d isn’t the only possible exoplanet that exists around that star — controversy has also been created by another, potentially habitable exoplanet called Gliese 581g. Also originally detected through the wobble of the star, this 3-4 Earth mass world was found to also be in orbit within the habitable zone. But its existence has been the focus of several studies supporting and discounting its presence. Gliese 581 is also home to 3 other confirmed exoplanets, Gliese 581e, b and c.
Currently, observational data suggests Gliese 581g was just noise, but as the continuing debate about Gliese 581d is proving, this is one controversy that will likely keep on rumbling in the scientific journals for some time.
|Mercury’s extreme temperatures and lack of an atmosphere would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for people to live on the planet. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington|
With its extreme temperature fluctuations, Mercury is not likely a planet that humans would ever want to colonize. But if we had the to survive on the planet closest to the sun, what would it be like to live there?
To date, only two spacecraft have visited Mercury. The first, Mariner 10, conducted a series of Mercury flybys in 1974, but the spacecraft only saw the lit half of the planet. NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, on the other hand, conducted flybys and then entered Mercury’s orbit — in March of 2013, images from the spacecraft allowed to completely map the planet for the first time.
MESSENGER photos of Mercury show that the planet has water ice at its poles, which sit in permanent darkness. Mining this ice would be a good way to live off the land, but setting up bases at the poles might not be a good idea, said David Blewett, a participating scientist with the Messenger program.
“The polar regions would give you some respite from the strength of the sun on Mercury,” Blewett told Space.com. “But, of course, it’s really cold in those permanently shadowed areas where the ice is, and that presents its own challenge.”
A better option, he said, would probably be to set up a base not far from one of the ice caps, perhaps on a crater rim, and have a water mining operation at the pole.
Still, dealing with extreme temperatures on Mercury would likely be unavoidable: Daytime temperatures on the planet can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius), while nighttime temperatures can drop down to minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 180 degrees Celsius).
Scientists once believed Mercury was tidally locked with the sun, meaning that one side of the planet always faces the sun because it takes the same amount of time to rotate around its axis as it does to revolve around the star. But we now know that Mercury’s day lasts almost 59 Earth days and its year stretches for about 88 Earth days.
Interestingly, the sun has an odd path through the planet’s sky over the course of Mercury’s long day, because of the interaction between Mercury’s spin rate and its highly elliptical orbit around the sun.
“It [the sun] rises in the east and moves across the sky, and then it pauses and moves backwards just a tad. It then resumes its motion towards the west and sunset,” said Blewett, adding that the sun appears 2.5 times larger in Mercury’s sky than it does in Earth’s sky.
And during the day, Mercury’s sky would appear black, not blue, because the planet has virtually no atmosphere to scatter the sun’s light. “Here on Earth at sea level, the molecules of air are colliding billions of times per second,” Blewett said. “But on Mercury, the atmosphere, or ‘exosphere,’ is so very rarefied that the atoms essentially never collide with other exosphere atoms.” This lack of atmosphere also means that the stars wouldn’t twinkle at night.
Without an atmosphere, Mercury doesn’t have any weather; so while living on the planet, you wouldn’t have to worry about devastating storms. And since the planet has no bodies of liquid water or active volcanoes, you’d be safe from tsunamis and eruptions.
But Mercury isn’t devoid of natural disasters. “The surface is exposed to impacts of all sizes,” Blewett said. It also may suffer from earthquakes due to compressive forces that are shrinking the planet (unlike Earth, Mercury doesn’t have tectonic activity).
Mercury is about two-fifths the size of Earth, with a similar gravity to Mars, or about 38 percent of Earth’s gravity. This means that you could jump three times as high on Mercury, and heavy objects would be easier to pick up, Blewett said. However, everything would still have the same mass and inertia, so you could be knocked over if someone threw a heavy object at you, he added.
Finally, you can forget about a smooth Skype call home: It takes at least 5 minutes for signals from Mercury to reach Earth, and vice versa.
Excerpt from thespacereporter.com
According to a NASA statement, telescopes have revealed for the first time that powerful winds emanate from black holes in all directions. These winds are so tremendous that they can actually work to hamper the formation of new stars in the host galaxy.
The two telescopes that were employed by the agency, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s XMM-Newton, focused on PDS 456, a quasar, an extremely bright type of black hole, over 2 billion light-years away. The results were then analyzed by a team led by Emanuele Nardini of Keele University in the UK.
The two telescopes studied the quasar PDS 456 at five different times throughout 2013 and 2014. By combining low-energy X-ray observations from XMM-Newton with high-energy X-ray observations from NuSTAR, Nardini and team were able to trace iron dispersed by the quasar’s winds. These data demonstrated that the winds blow outwards from the black hole in a spherical front.
Having ascertained the structure of the quasar winds, the team was then able to calculate the strength of the winds. So strong are the quasar winds that they push huge quantities of matter before them, dispersing it outwards through the host galaxy and preventing it from eventually coalescing to generate new stars. In an earlier period of the universe’s history, about 10 billion years ago, supermassive black holes were more abundant and their terrible winds probably had a hand in shaping the current shapes of galaxies.
“For an astronomer, studying PDS 456 is like a paleontologist being given a living dinosaur to study,” said co-author Daniel Stern of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We are able to investigate the physics of these important systems with a level of detail not possible for those found at more typical distances, during the ‘Age of Quasars.’”
|The new findings have been published in the journal Science.|
|WinSun claims that their new 3D printed five-story building is the tallest of its kind in the world.|
The sheer size of the printer allows for a 10x increase in production efficiency. WinSun estimates that 3D printing technology can save between 30 and 60 percent of building materials and shortens production times by 50 to even 70 percent, while decreasing labor costs by 50 up to even 80 percent. Future applications include 3D printed bridges or tall office buildings that can be built right on site.
|Planck has mapped the delicate polarisation of the CMB across the entire sky|
The team has made the most precise map of the “oldest light” in the cosmos.
Earlier observations of this radiation had suggested the first generation of stars were bursting into life by about 420 million years after the Big Bang.
Planck’s data indicates this great ignition was well established by some 560 million years after it all began.
“This difference of 140 million years might not seem that significant in the context of the 13.8-billion-year history of the cosmos, but proportionately it’s actually a very big change in our understanding of how certain key events progressed at the earliest epochs,” said Prof George Efstathiou, one of the leaders of the Planck Science Collaboration.
The assessment is based on studies of the “afterglow” of the Big Bang, the ancient light called the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which still washes over the Earth today.
The European Space Agency’s (Esa) Planck satellite mapped this “fossil” between 2009 and 2013.
It contains a wealth of information about early conditions in the Universe, and can even be used to work out its age, shape and do an inventory of its contents.
Scientists can also probe it for very subtle “distortions” that tell them about any interactions the CMB has had on its way to us.
One of these would have been imprinted when the infant cosmos underwent a major environmental change known as re-ionisation.
It is when the cooling neutral hydrogen gas that dominated the Universe in the aftermath of the Big Bang was then re-energised by the ignition of the first stars.
These hot giants would have burnt brilliant but brief lives, producing the very first heavy elements. But they would also have “fried” the neutral gas around them – ripping electrons off the hydrogen protons.
And it is the passage of the CMB through this maze of electrons and protons that would have resulted in it picking up a subtle polarisation.
The Planck team has now analysed this polarisation in fine detail and determined it to have been generated at 560 million years after the Big Bang.
The American satellite WMAP, which operated in the 2000s, made the previous best estimate for the peak of re-ionisation at 420 million years.
The problem with that number was that it sat at odds with Hubble Space Telescope observations of the early Universe.
Hubble could not find stars and galaxies in sufficient numbers to deliver the scale of environmental change at the time when WMAP suggested it was occurring.
Planck’s new timing “effectively solves the conflict,” commented Prof Richard McMahon from Cambridge University, UK.
“We had two groups of astronomers who were basically working on different sides of the problem. The Planck people came at it from the Big Bang side, while those of us who work on galaxies came at it from the ‘now side’.
“It’s like a bridge being built over a river. The two sides do now join where previously we had a gap,” he told BBC News.
That gap had prompted scientists to invoke complicated scenarios to initiate re-ionisation, including the possibility that there might have been an even earlier population of giant stars or energetic black holes. Such solutions are no longer needed.
No-one knows the exact timing of the very first individual stars. All Planck does is tell us when large numbers of these stars had gathered into galaxies of sufficient strength to alter the cosmic environment.
By definition, this puts the ignition of the “founding stars” well before 560 million years after the Big Bang. Quite how far back in time, though, is uncertain. Perhaps, it was as early as 200 million years. It will be the job of the next generation of observatories like Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, to try to find the answer.
The history of the Universe
- Planck’s CMB studies indicate the Big Bang was 13.8bn years ago
- The CMB itself can be thought of as the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang
- It spreads across the cosmos some 380,000 years after the Big Bang
- This is when the conditions cool to make neutral hydrogen atoms
- The period before the first stars is often called the ‘Dark Ages’
- When the first stars ignite, they ‘fry’ the neutral gas around them
- These giants also forge the first heavy elements in big explosions
- ‘First Light’, or ‘Cosmic Renaissance’, is a key epoch in history
The new Planck result is contained in a raft of new papers just posted on the Esa website.
These papers accompany the latest data release from the satellite that can now be used by the wider scientific community, not just collaboration members.
Two years ago, the data dump largely concerned interpretations of the CMB based on its temperature profile. It is the CMB’s polarisation features that take centre-stage this time.
It was hoped that Planck might find direct evidence in the CMB’s polarisation for inflation – the super-rapid expansion of space thought to have occurred just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. This has not been possible. But all the Planck data – temperature and polarisation information – is consistent with that theory, and the precision measurements mean new, tighter constraints have been put on the likely scale of the inflation signal, which other experiments continue to chase.
What is clear from the Planck investigation is that the simplest models for how the super-rapid expansion might have worked are probably no longer tenable, suggesting some exotic physics will eventually be needed to explain it.
“We’re now being pushed into a parameter space we didn’t expect to be in,” said collaboration scientist Dr Andrew Jaffe from Imperial College, UK. “That’s OK. We like interesting physics; that’s why we’re physicists, so there’s no problem with that. It’s just we had this naïve expectation that the simplest answer would be right, and sometimes it just isn’t.”
Excerpt from gizmodo.com
Self-healing Materials — Bioinspired Plastics
Thermoelectric Materials — Heat Scavengers
Perovskites — Cheap Solar Cells
Aerogels — Superlight and Strong
Metamaterials — Light Manipulators
Stanene — 100 percent efficient conductor
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com
(RNS) Meet the “Post-Seculars” — the one in five Americans who no one seems to have noticed before in endless rounds of debates pitting science vs. religion.
They’re more strongly religious than most “Traditionals” (43 percent of Americans) and more scientifically knowledgeable than “Moderns” (36 percent) who stand on science alone, according to two sociologists’ findings in a new study.
“We were surprised to find this pretty big group (21 percent) who are pretty knowledgeable and appreciative about science and technology but who are also very religious and who reject certain scientific theories,” said Timothy O’Brien, co-author of the research study, released Thursday (Jan. 29) in the American Sociological Review.
Put another way, there’s a sizable chunk of Americans out there who are both religious and scientifically minded but who break with both packs when faith and science collide.
Post-Seculars pick and choose among science and religion views to create their own “personally compelling way of understanding the world,” said O’Brien, assistant professor at University of Evansville in Indiana.
O’Brien and co-author Shiri Noy, an assistant professor of sociology at University of Wyoming, examined responses from 2,901 people to 18 questions on knowledge of and attitudes toward science, and four religion-related questions in the General Social Surveys conducted in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Many findings fit the usual way the science-religion divide is viewed:
— Moderns, who stand on reason, scored high on scientific knowledge and scored lowest on religion questions regarding biblical authority and the strength of their religious ties.
— Traditionals, who lean toward religion, scored lower on science facts and were least likely to agree that “the benefits of scientific research outweigh the harmful results.”
However, the data turned up a third perspective – people who defied the familiar breakdown. The authors dubbed them “Post-Secular” to jump past a popular theory that Americans are moving way from religion to become more secular, O’Brien said.
Post-Seculars — about half of whom identify as conservative Protestants — know facts such as how lasers work, what antibiotics do and the way genetics affect inherited illnesses.
But when it comes to three main areas where science and Christian-centric religious views conflict — on human evolution, the Big Bang origin of the universe and the age of the Earth — Post-Seculars break away from the pack with very significantly different views from Traditionals and Moderns.
Areas where the factions are clear:
The universe began with a huge explosion:
Traditional: 21 percent
Modern: 68 percent
Post Secular: 6 percent
Human beings developed from earlier species of animals:
Traditional: 33 percent
Modern: 88 percent
Post-Secular: 3 percent
The continents have been moving for millions of years and will move in the future:
Traditional: 66 percent
Modern: 98 percent
Post-Secular: 80 percent
“Post-Seculars are smart. They know what scientists think. They just don’t agree on some key issues, and that has impact on their political views,” said O’Brien.
When the authors looked at views on the authority of the Bible and how strongly people said they were affiliated with their religion, Post-Seculars put the most faith in Scripture and were much more inclined to say they were strongly religious. And where science and faith conflict on hot-button issues, they side with the religious perspective.
For example, Moderns are the most supportive of embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights for women, but Post-Seculars, who are nonetheless largely positive about science and society, are more skeptical in both areas, O’Brien said.
Candidates running in the 2016 elections might take note.
Where people fall in these three groups can predict their attitudes on political issues where science and religion both have claims, O’Brien said, even after accounting for the usual suspects — social class, political ideology or church attendance.
|This collection of images was acquired when Rosetta was about 15km above the surface of 67P|
They were acquired by the Narrow Angle Camera on the Rosetta satellite, which had dropped the little robot towards the surface of the “ice mountain”.
The images are presented as a mosaic covering the half-hour or so around the “first touchdown” – the probe then bounced to a stop about 1km away.
Philae lost battery power on Saturday and is no longer talking with Earth.
Scientists still have not located the craft’s current resting spot. But European Space Agency controllers have not given up hope of hearing from the plucky robot again – if it can somehow get enough light on to its solar panels to recharge its systems.
The new NAC images will certainly help in this respect because they show the direction the lander took as it bounced away.
At the weekend, Esa presented some fascinating views of the first touchdown taken by Rosetta’s navigation cameras, but the Osiris NAC system has substantially better resolution.
The new mosaic is produced by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, which operates Osiris.
It details Philae’s descent, and the impact mark it leaves on 67P’s surface. You then see the 100kg probe heading away on its initial bounce. (All times are in GMT on Wednesday. The resolution is 28 cm/pixel).
This rebound reached hundreds of metres above the comet and lasted almost two hours. When Philae came back down, it made another small leap, which took it into a high-walled trap.
Telemetry and pictures from the robot itself indicate this location is covered in deep shadow for most of 67P’s day.
As a consequence, Philae receives insufficient solar power to re-boot and form a radio link to the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft.
Esa cannot be sure the robot will ever come back to life, but even if it does not the agency says it is “hugely happy” with what was achieved in the more than 50 hours following landing.
The probe managed to complete over 80% of its planned primary science campaign on the surface.
Little of the results have so far been released by the various instrument teams. The one major exception is MUPUS.
This sensor package from the German space agency’s Institute for Planetary Research deployed a thermometer on the end of a hammer.
It retrieved a number of temperature profiles but broke as it tried to burrow its way into the comet’s subsurface.
Scientists say this shows the icy material underlying 67P’s dust covering to be far harder than anyone anticipated – having the tensile strength of some rocks.
It also helps explain why Philae bounced so high on that first touchdown.
The 4km-wide comet has little gravity, so when key landing systems designed to hold the robot down failed at the crucial moment – the probe would have been relying on thick, soft, compressive layers to absorb its impact.
However much dust it did encounter at that moment, it clearly was not enough to prevent Philae making its giant rebound.
|This photo from Philae shows the surface during the lander’s approach|
Officials said the craft may have briefly lifted off from the comet before touching back down again.
Lander project manager Stephan Ulamec said: “Maybe we didn’t just land once, we landed twice.”
Further analysis is needed to fully understand the situation.
However, Dr Ulamec told the BBC that at last radio contact with the probe, he believed it to be in a stable configuration.
“This is the indication right now,” he explained. “We really have to wait until tomorrow morning and then we will know a lot more.”
The “first” landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was confirmed at about 1605 GMT.
Early data started to come back from instruments, and one team could see that the lander, known as Philae, had sunk about 4cm into the surface, suggesting a relatively soft top layer.
In a media briefing, Dr Ulamec said: “What we know is we touched down, we landed at the comet at the time when you all saw us cheering and when it was announced.
“We had a very clear signal there, we received data from the landing – housekeeping and science data – that’s the good news.”
But then Dr Ulamec delivered the “bad news”. He said telemetry from the craft suggested it may have drifted off the surface after landing and started to turn. This subsequently came to an end, which the German Space Agency official interpreted as a possible “second landing” on Comet 67P.
This “bounce” was always a possibility, but had been made more likely by the failure of the harpoons to deploy, and the failure of a thruster supposed to push the robot into the surface.
Pictures from the surface have been retrieved at Earth and are being processed in preparation for release.
But the news about the harpoons has cast a pall over the celebrations. Scientists will now take a decision on whether to re-fire them.
Scientists believe Philae was in a stable configuration when they last had contact with the probe. But they have now lost radio “visibility” and will only re-establish contact on Thursday.
Earlier, a thruster system designed to push the robot down into the surface of the comet failed.
Part of the difficulty is the very low gravity on the 4km-wide ice mountain.
Philae could have alighted upon terrain whose constitution is anything between rock hard and puff-powder soft.
Controllers in Darmstadt have already received pictures from the surface of the comet, but are getting intermittent drop-out in the lander’s signal.
Philae was deployed to take pictures of the comet’s landscape and to analyse its chemical composition.
They are hoping its surface materials will hold fresh insights into the origins of our Solar System more than 4.5 billion years ago.
One theory holds that comets were responsible for delivering water to the planets. Another idea is that they could have “seeded” the Earth with the chemistry needed to help kick-start life.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ghandi
Many of us feel helpless when we hear about the inhumane atrocities that are occurring around the world. We have witnessed unfathomable cruelty – evil. We live in terror of the possibility that this evil will soon pervade our own homelands.
We desperately pray to God to save us. We throw our hands up in despair asking, “Where is God when we need him the most?”
We hope that the people of the government we elected and put into power will take the reigns and fix the problems, and then we curse them when they fail us.
Time is of the essence. Too many innocent people are dying senseless deaths. Each of us must stop passively wringing our hands in despair. We must assume our share of responsibility. We must tap into the power that lies within each of us – the power we have that will change the course of the world. It all starts with you and I.
Each of our souls have come to this planet to learn and grow. Each of us carefully laid out chosen paths to follow before we arrived here. As a human beings we may not remember why we came here and what we need to learn, but our souls do.
No one is cursed with their reality; no one is punished by it. God did not bring us here to make us suffer. We each came here of our own accord. We each create our own realities.
The hardest things we face in life, the dreaded themes that repeat over and over during our lifetimes, the problems that seem to follow us wherever we go, are the ones we came here to overcome. Recognize these as indications of your soul’s purpose in this lifetime.
Only the bravest souls choose to come to Earth School to accelerate their growth. That means that each of us has the strength and power within to push past adversity. Each of us has the capacity to heal ourselves. And each of us carries the love and light of the God spirit within.
Life is hard, but we are not alone on our journeys. The loving spirit world made a pact with us before we came here to support us. They remain faithfully by our sides. They whisper guidance in our ears. They give us recognizable signposts along the way to assist us in finding the most direct path to all the answers we will ever need.
We may recognize these signs as coincidences, but they are not. There are no coincidences. They are synchronicities – unexplained phenomena that show us the most direct route toward the fulfillment of our mission. We need only awaken and recognize them.
When we move past the pain, fear and heartache we came here to overcome we are brought to love and light. This is the love and light that each of us must bring to the world. This is the love and light that will change the course of the world.
We can no longer distract ourselves from doing the work each of us needs to do. We have to stop complaining about others. We must stop complaining about circumstances and do what is within our own power to fix ourselves. That is all it takes. If each of us did the work on ourselves that we came here to do, the world would radiate with love and light; the light that will crowd out the darkness. Darkness cannot possibly exist where there is light.
We all wonder what we can do to fix the world; to overcome the darkness that is spreading like wildfire on our planet. Truth be told, it is must easier to do than we might believe. We must each look within. We must each explore our own existence. We must ask ourselves how we can positively change that which is within our own grasp. That is all it takes. If each of us saved ourselves we could collectively save the world.
We can no longer rely on the people we elect to represent us. They are human beings just as we are, each with their own agendas. If these beings are overcome by pain and darkness, they cannot possibly bring light and love to the world. Until they each see the light, the problems the world faces, the problems that impact each and every one of us, will not be eradicated.
The same goes for God. God can only do so much. We are God’s hands and we have been given free will. It all comes down to us.
Smile at someone today. Share the love. Love is contagious. Let each and every one of us begin the process of infecting our planet with love and light, right here, right now. We can do it. We must do it.
About the Author
Please visit: http://www.randigfine.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, andLinked In.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
Excert from cnet.com
Researchers heading into space in the not-too-distant future could be travelling by elevator rather than rocket if Japanese construction giant Obayashi Corporation has its way. The company announced two years ago that it has the capacity to build a space elevator — and have it up and running by the year 2050.
…the company said that the elevator would reach 96,000km (59,652 miles) into space (for reference, space lies beyond the Kármán Line, at an altitude of 100km, the International Space Station is 330km, and the moon is 384,400km from Earth), and use robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors (maglev, as seen in high-speed rail lines around Asia and Europe) to ferry cargo and humans to a new space station.
All this, the company said, can be achieved because of carbon nanotechnology.
“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” said Obayashi research and development manager Yoji Ishikawa. “Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it.”…
If the project is successful, it could massively cut the cost and danger associated with space trips: cargo usually costs around $22,000 per kilogram via shuttle; using Obayashi’s space elevator, the cost would be closer to $200, the company said.
Clayhut Healing Centre
The phenomenon known as the Dark Night of the Soul is something which many spiritual seekers experience on their journey to re-enlightenment. It can be a painful and frightening process, but it can also be liberating and empowering. It all depends on your perspective and your ability to remain detached.
Peeling the Onion
Think of this as peeling an onion. Each layer you strip away brings tears to your eyes. You stop for a while in order to recover, and then you proceed to the next layer. Once you reach the core, you are at the heart of your angst. This is often the toughest part of the process which is why it comes last. You build up your strength and your ability to face your core issue(s). Your higher self will not let you access this core until you are ready.
The good news is you have already faced the worst. Nothing that you unearth during this process will ever be as bad as the original pain you experienced. You were strong enough to face it once, so you are more than capable of releasing it now. And, once it’s purified, it is gone for good.
The ego in its present form, however, is overly dominant. We live in an egocentric era. The Cult to Self is celebrated through our worship of celebrity, fame, fortune, superficial beauty and power. Narcissistic behavioursare often rewarded in this ego-driven climate. The external world is a projection result of the malignancy of our collective ego state.
Needless to say, the ego does not take kindly to the awakening and enlightenment process. It sees the spiritual awakening process as a threat to its very existence and, in many ways, it is right. As you begin to remember more about your spiritual origins, the allure of ego lessens. This eventually breaks ego’s hold over you, and the ego begins to shrink away.
From the ego’s perspective, this equates to death. It, therefore, isn’t going to surrender without a fight. The key is not to resist the ego. That being said, non-resistance is not easy. In fact, your ego will do everything in its power to cling to the old, but your higher self knows better.
- Deep introspection and angst
- Questioning the meaning and purpose of life
- Feeling that life is meaningless
- Isolation; feeling alone, cut off from others
- Facing mortality
- Feeling empty, devoid of joy
Your existential crisis can cut you off from others. The battle you’re fighting is internal. It’s akin to depression, except that it is spiritual rather than mental in nature. The ego is fighting for its life, and thus it resists the purification process.
Remember though, these symptoms stem from the ego’s perspective on life. The soul knows that everything has meaning, pleasure and beauty. Once you supplant your ego with your soul, life becomes vibrant again.
Purification by Fire
It’s like the old adage says: “Beware the man who has nothing left to lose”. That man is absolutely fearless. When you lose everything your ego values, its fear-based hold on you shatters.
Please note, I’m not advocating that you must lose everything. I’m just explaining what sometimes happens during the process. For instance, if you find yourself facing loss (i.e. divorce, job loss, and bankruptcy) know that this has helped to shatter your ego’s hold over you. The more dramatic the loss, the more rapid the purification process.
As you empty yourself of ego/fear, you create more room to house your soul’s love, light, wisdom, beauty and joy.
The Phoenix Rises
You’re almost through this learning curve, and when you emerge on the other side of the Dark Night, you will rediscover the joy and beauty of the world. You are the phoenix, being purified by fire. Once you have rid yourself of the ego fears, you will be ‘reborn’ or transformed as a freer, happier higher-vibrational version of you.
- Higher Perspective: Understand that darkness, fear and ego are all illusions. You’re a child of Love and Light. Your current experiences are simply a dream that your soul is having. It wants to better understand Love and Light but it cannot do so without contrast. Since the ego isn’t real, try changing its nature from a narcissistic dictator to a small, frightened child. Then, when it acts up, love and nurture it instead of fighting it or being controlled by it.
- Non-Resistance: Do not resist the process. The greater the resistance, the more painful the symptoms. Remember, that which you resist persists. Don’t give your ego anything to push against. Just go with the flow. And remember, the ego is fighting for its life. Rather than seeking to destroy it, love it instead and teach it to trust your spirit to keep you safe. The ego can be retrained.
- Non-Attachment: Release everything that no longer serves your higher good. No matter how scary it may seem, until you let go of the old ego-based elements in your life, nothing new and spiritually-uplifting can come in. Think of it as cleaning house. You’re ridding your vessel of darkness and density to make way for lightness.
- Spiritual Guides: Enlist the help of the spirit realms. Call on your spirit guides; soul family; soul group; departed loved ones; the angels; ascended masters; animal totems; Mother Earth; Father Sun; the Creator/God/Goddess, and with whomever else you resonate. Be open to receiving help in all forms.
- Kindred Support: Find like-minded souls with whom you can share your experiences. You are not alone. There are many others who are currently experiencing, or have recently gone through, the Dark Night of the Soul. Ask your spirit guides to help you find these people, or they you. Then, pay attention to the messages you receive intuitively. If a stranger stops to talk to you, s/he may be a kindred spirit.
- TLC: You need extra love and gentle care right now. Be your own best friend. Talk gently and lovingly to yourself. Release obligations and commitments that are draining you. Set healthy boundaries with others. Treat yourself with kid gloves. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of pure water, sleep when you’re tired, and practice mindful exercise such as yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. Energy medicine can also help alleviate the severity and duration of the symptoms. Above all, never forgot, you are a precious child of the divine.
About the Author:
On my first day of college at Colorado Mountain College in beautiful Glenwood Springs, Colorado, the newly arriving freshman were seated in a small screening room as a 60 minute documentary began on the screen. It was a documentary film about how the human race’s desire to eat meat is ecologically destroying our planet. The factual evidence was quite overwhelming, and all of us that left the screening room that day swore that we would be lifelong vegetarians from that moment on, myself included.
My new vegetarian lifestyle did not last long, however, as eating meat would prove for me a habit I often fell back upon.
I know I’m not alone though. I see all around me so many that attempt, but fail, to swing the big V turn as I call it (as opposed to a U-turn), and live a meat free diet.
A multimillionaire poker pro, Phil Ivey, even made a 1 million dollar proposition bet with fellow poker pro Tom Dwan that he could go one full year without eating meat, and the bet was no joke. Professional poker players often make large proposition bets, though this was one of the largest ever made. Ivey lasted just 3 weeks before he bought out of his $1 million bet for $150,000. Not even for $1 million dollars could this man resist eating meat. Just imagine how difficult it is for others who do not stand to gain such a financial windfall. There are so many who try, sometimes several times over, to lead a vegetarian lifestyle yet fail, and many sadly finally give up and eat meat for the rest of their lives.
I was one of those until one day six years ago. My decision though was not that I would lead a vegetarian lifestyle, no. My decision was that I would lead a spiritual lifestyle. The vegetarian part of it came very naturally. I made up my mind that it was time to lead a spiritual lifestyle and the very first commitment I made in that pursuit was that I would be a vegetarian. I simply felt that if I’m going to live a spiritual lifestyle then I can not eat those beautiful animals that accompany me on my journey.
With all the surprising things we are discovering about our reality every day, would it be so surprising to learn that the animals that accompany us on this adventure are also traveling on a spiritual journey of their own?
I have often thought that is also quite possible that all humans began their journey as animals, and that all of the animals of our world today will one day walk their spiritual paths as humans or human type beings. Wouldn’t that be an amazing truth to one day learn?
Regardless of the reality of an animal’s spiritual journey, six years ago I vowed that animals will continue to accompany me on my journey, only they will not fill my refrigerator. It was a decision I made without any prior thought or inner debate. It simply dawned on me one moment and the next moment I was a vegetarian. The change came so easy, and the reorganization of my supermarket shopping routine was a breeze – and felt so good.
Importantly, I saw for the first time why I and so many others too had found it so difficult to live a meat-free lifestyle. Its very difficult to make such a change in one’s life if you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons (I use the word wrong very loosely). It is certainly smart and it is also admirable if you choose to become a vegetarian because such a change will help you lose weight, or keep you living healthy, or keep you looking young, or help save the environment, but those who attempt to live a vegetarian lifestyle for those reasons often fail.
If you, however, decide that the day has come that you truly walk the spiritual path, and you see that truly walking the spiritual path with both feet planted firmly means that all animals can no longer be considered dinner, only companions, well then, that’s the day you will feel an incredible spiritual wind whip inside you like a thousand tornadoes and give you all the strength and all the willpower and all the determination you will ever need to live and let live and only enjoy an animal for its beauty and its companionship as we travel together on our never-ending spiritual journey throughout this miraculous universe.
“I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.” ~ Audrey Hepburn
If you ask me, there are certain qualities each and every human being should have. Qualities that have the power to help each and every one of us to connect with our own selves and the world around us at a deeper level. Crafting better lives for ourselves and those around us and making the world a happier and a lot brighter place to be in. And these qualities are:
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” ~ Maya Angelou
“The heart that loves is forever young.” ~ Greek proverb
4. Deep Sense of Connection
“If I go into the place in myself that is love, and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love. Then you and I are truly in love, the state of being love. That’s the entrance to Oneness.” ~ Ram Dass
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein
“You have but two emotions, fear and love, one you made and one was given you.” ~ A Course In Miracles
“What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it – would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.” ~ Ralph Marston
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” ~ Max de Pree
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” ~ Erma Bombeck
“Until man lets go of that which he is now conscious of being, he will not become that which he desires to be.” ~ Neville Goddard, Your Faith is Your Fortune
And by simply embracing these 10 qualities your whole life will improve and you will discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. What do you say? Do you think you can embrace these qualities and make them part of your everyday life?
With all my love,
The theory that we plan our lives was something I had never heard of before 2011. Up until that point, I could not have even imagined such a thing. Even after hearing about it 3 years ago, it took me quite a long time to let this concept into my paradigm. How I stumbled upon it wasn’t even through my avid research of the afterlife and reincarnation. It came to me through a vision I had. Before the vision, I believed in reincarnation. The idea of it had always fascinated me and I felt strongly that I did have past lives; I just didn’t know what those lives entailed. After three years of intense research and listening to many people from all different backgrounds and beliefs speak about it from all around the world, I knew it was something that needed to be shared and discussed.
The Cycle Of Reincarnation & The Pre-Birth Plan
Through my research, the cycle of life to death to re-birth has been pretty much the same from all the sources I studied and let me tell you, there were many. It all starts with the Pre-Birth Plan. You establish this plan with a council. Some people call this council the elders or the wise ones. Pretty much, they are very old beings who know their stuff so to speak. You meet with them along with your spirit guides. You discuss the life ahead of you and are given the choice of a few different lives to pick from in the current time period you are incarnating into. To give you an example: I was given the choice of being an artist or a Samurai in Japan. You choose everything, including your parents. Once your choices have been given to you and you pick one, the tedious task starts of planning all the things you wish to experience in the upcoming life. Experience isn’t the only thing we seek; we have goals to meet and challenges to overcome. Some wish to learn patience or overcome jealousy. Many people have debated this theory but you also choose to clear up karmas. To me, clearing up karmas simply means creating a balance. There are a few other things like healing, contrast and healing false beliefs. When the life plan is being created, our guides are there with us creating what Robert Schwartz describes through his work as a flow chart. A flow chart is the plan but with free will incorporated into it. He goes into great detail about the flow chart in an interview he did with Afterlife TV which you can view here. Our guides also create synchronicities in our lives to trigger certain things in us and guide us on the best path to help us master our goals. After the plan is in place, we are born and forget the plan and who we truly are.
Why Do We Forget?
“It wouldn’t be a test if you knew the answers.” – Dolores Cannon
Forgetting is an integral part of the cycle. It’s how we truly get to know ourselves and fully live the current life we are living. Dolores and Teal give really great, simple explanations of it. We’re living in the time of remembering and many of us are remembering who we are and why we came to Earth at this time. Those who haven’t fully awakened to their abilities but wish to have more insight on who they are and why they are here seek out mediums or people who are in tune with higher frequencies and can connect to help them access that kind of information.
How Does The Pre-Birth Plan Affect The Laws Of Attraction & Manifestation?
Are Past Lives Relevant To This Life?
“Meher Baba is fairly, fairly clear and I’m afraid maybe for many people’s taste, a bit frighteningly clear on this. There is a wall between the consciousness of the present life and previous lifetime stored records. And he said actually it’s for a pretty good reason because the variety and also the strength of those previous lifetime recordings is so varied, so complex and in many cases oppositional. This lifetime is way over here and that lifetime is way over there and if all of a sudden we break through the protective wall and these things come out you know, he said this can be or would be-if the individual has not done it-one of the most upsetting things that could possibly occur to him and in the usual human state of emotional being the individual is just not strong enough to encompass and to be able to handle and digest and go beyond this tremendously varied functions. So Baba simply says don’t tamper too much with the protective wall. He was talking primarily with people who were just for their own curiosity trying to recall previous lifetimes.”
– Don E. Stevens – Disciple of Meher Baba (In Another Life: Reincarnation in America Documentary)
Knowing about past lives can seriously mess with you mentally and emotionally. I know this because I have remembered many of my previous incarnations and asked about them in readings I’ve had with a medium I know and love. Although I personally find them fascinating and look upon them with no judgments; not everyone may be able to handle knowing about all the roles we play here on Earth.
Why Is The Theory Of Planning Our Lives Important?
At this time, I feel it is very important to find out what is truly going on in our world and why we are here. All perspectives should be taken into consideration and anyone is free to believe what they feel resonates with them. I’m not here to change beliefs. I’m sharing this theory because this theory helped me. I forgave the negative of this world and felt gratitude for it because it all helped me to grow. Whether or not this theory is true, that is still a positive thing and perhaps others could take something positive from it like I did.
Where To Learn More About This Theory
Does our Soul Plan Life’s Challenges before birth? Robert Schwartz Interview
Michael Newton – Souls and the Spirit World Full Interview
In Another Life: Reincarnation in America Documentary
Reincarnation: A New Horizon (Ancient Mysteries – Reincarnation Documentary Hosted by Leonard Nimoy)
The Collective Evolution II: The Human Experience
Temples on the Other Side – Sylvia Browne (Book)
Life Between Lives – Michael Newton (Book) – http://newtoninstitute.org/shop/
Your Soul’s Plan – Robert Schwartz –
About the Author