Harmonization

Peak experience is a term used to describe certain transpersonal and ecstatic states, particularly ones tinged with themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness. Participants characterize these experiences, and the revelations imparted therein, as possessing an ineffably mystical quality or essence.

They usually come on suddenly and are often inspired by deep meditation, intense feelings of love, exposure to great art or music, or the overwhelming beauty of nature. Peak experiences are described as especially joyous and exciting moments in life, involving sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, wonder and awe, and possibly also involving an awareness of transcendental unity or knowledge of higher truth.

Peak experience tends to be uplifting and ego-transcending; it releases creative energies; it affirms the meaning and value of existence; it gives a sense of purpose to the individual; it gives a feeling of integration; it leaves a permanent mark on the individual, evidently changing them for the better.

Virtually everyone has a number of peak experiences in the course of their life, but often such experiences are taken for granted. In so-called “non-peakers”, peak experiences are somehow resisted and suppressed. Peak experiences should be studied and cultivated, so that they can be introduced to those who have never had them or who resist them, providing them a route to achieve personal growth, integration, and fulfillment.

Light

Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights, is an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of firecrackers, joy, togetherness and hope.

The celebration commemorates the return of Lord Rama from his fourteen-year long exile, and his vanquishing of the demon king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen oil lamps and burst firecrackers.

While the Diwali is popularly known as the festival of lights, the most significant spiritual meaning is the awareness of inner light. The celebration refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature.

In each legend, myth and story of Diwali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts. It is the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds; that which brings us closer to divinity.

Responsibility

Neuroscience of free will refers to recent investigations that have been interpreted as shedding light on the question of free will, which is a philosophical and scientific question as to whether we exercise control over our actions, decisions, or choices. As it has become possible to study the living brain, researchers can now watch the brain’s decision-making process at work.

One significant finding of these studies is that a person’s brain seems to commit to certain decisions before the person becomes aware of having made them. Early studies found delays of about half a second, but in 2008, using contemporary brain scanning technology, scientists were able to predict whether subjects would execute an action up to 10 seconds before the subject became aware of having made the choice.

It may be possible, then, that our intuitions about the role of our so-called conscious “intentions” have led us astray. It may be the case that we have confused correlation of conscious self awareness with causation and decision. Alternatively, self awareness may serve only to recognize an unconsciously motivated will that appears before an action.

This possibility is bolstered by various known illusions and studies showing that humans may not have direct access to various internal processes. The discovery that humans only possess a determined will would have implications for moral responsibility. However, these studies have only just begun to shed light on the role that consciousness plays in actions and it is too early to draw very strong conclusions.

Picturing

Cognitive space uses the analogy of location in two, three or higher dimensional space to describe and categorize thoughts, memories and ideas. Each individual has their own cognitive space, resulting in a unique categorization of ideas. The dimensions of this cognitive space depend on information, training and a person’s awareness. All this depends globally on the cultural setting.

Many have tried to map in two or three dimensions various cognitive spaces. An attempt is made to place human perspectives within the global ecosystem and bridge real, ideal, and virtual spaces or realities along and across concrete scales. The concept is influenced by prior work with double augmented, merged and morphed realities.

A cognitive space consists of at least two elements: the actors involved and the cognitive element. They share cognitive matter (shared views, symbols, common language use, common ways-to-do-things, etc.). Actors are included in numerous spaces simultaneously and during social interaction in one space, they can access cognitive matter from other inclusions. This enriches the cognitive element of a space and can give birth to new cognitive spaces.

Cognitive spaces can be understood as workspaces of the mind. As such they are an elaboration on theories of social integration by enhancing concepts like social-cognitive configuration and multiple inclusion.

Noticing

Personology is a field of study which relies on physiology and facial features to analyze and predict character traits and behavior. It was developed in the 1930s by Edward Vincent Jones, a Los Angeles Circuit Court judge, who took notes on the behavioral patterns of those who appeared in his courtroom, and eventually surmised that he could predict people’s behavior by observing their facial features and other physical attributes.

Fascinated by his discovery, Jones abandoned his judicial career to begin researching subjects and is said to have compiled a list of 200 distinct facial features. After Jones performed a cold reading on the wife of Robert L. Whiteside, a newspaper editor, Whiteside became an ardent supporter of personology, and is claimed to have proved personology’s validity in an experiment that used 1,068 subjects and found the accuracy to be better than 90%.

Whiteside and other personologists used scientific methodology to validate personological traits during three different times over the course of 20 years in the latter portion of the 20th century. Examples of supposed personology correlations include:

  • Wide jaw: authoritative in speech and action; linked to high testosterone levels, affecting both bone development and personality in both males and females
  • Square chin: can be combative; also linked to high testosterone levels in males and females
  • Narrow jaw or chin: tends to be passive; linked to low testosterone levels in males and females, nurturing behavior in females, affecting both bone development and personality in males and females
  • Coarse hair: less sensitive
  • Fine hair: extremely sensitive
  • Curly, frizzy, wild hair: ‘mad scientist’ stereotype; thinks outside or ahead of the norm

The Personology Research & Development Center in the U.S. claims that personology can aid in customer relations, hiring and personal development, and can be beneficial in areas such as career counseling, conflict resolution, marriage partner compatibility, and stress management.

Shade

Kikayon is the Hebrew name of a plant mentioned in the biblical Book of Jonah. God causes the plant to grow over Jonah’s shelter to give him some shade from the sun. Later, God causes a worm to bite the plant’s root and it withers. Jonah, now being exposed to the full force of the sun, becomes faint and desires that God take him out of the world.

The kikayon is only referenced in the book of Jonah and there is some question as to what kind of plant it is. Some hypotheses include a gourd and a castor oil plant. The concurrent Hebrew usage of the word refers to the castor oil plant.

It has been theorized that the description may indicate an entheogenic mushroom such as fly agaric. Mushrooms grow and wither very rapidly, were uncultivated in ancient times due to the invisibility of mushroom spores to the naked eye, and in some cultures the fly agaric mushroom is associated with and named after an umbrella or parasol because of its shape.

Paradoxically, the red cap of fly agaric was also associated with the sun due to its round shape and color. When the mushroom cap is dried its color changes from red to gold, like the sun rising in the sky. The sun beating on Jonah’s head and causing him to become faint describes the effects of fly agaric intoxication.

Detection

Olfaction is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and by sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates.

The importance and sensitivity of smell varies among different organisms. Most mammals have a good sense of smell, whereas most birds do not. Among mammals, it is well-developed in the carnivores and ungulates, who must always be aware of each other, and in those that smell for their food, like moles.

It is estimated that dogs have an olfactory sense approximately a hundred thousand to a million times more acute than a human’s. This does not mean they are overwhelmed by smells our noses can detect, rather, it means they can discern a molecular presence when it is in much greater dilution in the air.

Bears, such as the Silvertip Grizzly found in parts of North America, have a sense of smell seven times stronger than a dog, essential for locating food underground. Using their elongated claws, bears dig deep trenches in search of burrowing animals and nests as well as roots, bulbs, and insects. Bears can detect the scent of food from up to 18 miles away.

Fish also have a well-developed sense of smell, even though they inhabit an aquatic environment. Salmon utilize their sense of smell to identify and return to their home stream waters. Catfish use their sense of smell to identify other individual catfish and to maintain a social hierarchy.

Insects use their antennae for olfaction. Sensory neurons in the antenna generate electrical signals called spikes in response to odor. The antennae have sensory neurons in the sensilla with axons terminating in the antennal lobes where they synapse with other neurons in semidelineations called glomeruli.

Comprehension

icon_41The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than actuality. By contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.

This leads to a situation where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.

The phenomenon was demonstrated in a series of experiments performed by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, then both of Cornell University. They noted a number of previous studies which tend to suggest that in skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis, ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. They hypothesized that with a typical skill which humans may possess in greater or lesser degree,

  • Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
  • Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
  • Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
  • If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

The authors draw an analogy with anosognosia, a condition in which a person who suffers a physical disability due to brain injury seems unaware of or denies the existence of the disability. This may include unawareness of quite dramatic impairments, such as blindness or paralysis.

Position

The Feldenkrais Method is an educational system centered on movement, aiming to expand and refine the use of the self through awareness. It holds that there is no separation between mind and body, and thus learning to move better can improve one’s overall well-being on many levels. It is intended for those wishing to reduce pain or limitations in movement, and many who want to improve their general well-being and personal development. Because it uses movement as the primary vehicle for gaining awareness, it is directly applicable to disorders that arise from restricted or habitually poor movement. But as a process for gaining awareness, the system claims to expand a person’s choices and responses to many aspects of life such as emotions, relationships, and intellectual tasks, and it applies at any level, from severe disorder to highly professional performance.

The Feldenkrais Method is applied in two forms by practitioners, who generally receive more than 800 hours of formal training over the course of four years. In an Awareness Through Movement lesson, the teacher verbally directs students through movement sequences and various foci of attention. Usually this occurs in a group setting, although the lessons can also be given to individuals, or recorded. There are more than a thousand lessons available, most of them are organized around a specific movement function.

In a Functional Integration lesson, the practitioner uses his or her hands to guide the movement of the student, who may be sitting, lying or standing. The practitioner also uses a hands-on technique to help the student experience the connections among various parts of the body. Movements are developed from the habitual patterns of the student, thereby tailoring the lesson to the individual. This approach allows the student to feel comfortable, and to experience the movement in detail. Through precision of touch and movement, the student learns how to eliminate excess effort and thus move more freely and easily.

Feldenkrais taught that changes in the physical experience could be described as changes in the self image, which can be conceived as the mapping of the motor cortex to the body. Activity in the motor cortex plays a key role in the sense of body position. Feldenkrais taught that changes in our ability to move are inseparable from changes in our conscious perception of ourselves. He aimed to clarify and work therapeutically with this relationship, with instructions that involved both specific movement instructions and invitations to introspection.

Lessons may be very specific in addressing particular issues brought by the student, or can be more global in scope. Although the technique does not specifically aim to eliminate pain or cure physical complaints, such issues are treated as valuable information that may inform the lesson. Issues such as chronic muscle pain may naturally resolve themselves as the student learns a more relaxed approach to his or her physical experience, and a more integrated, freer, easier way to move.

Conception

Indefinite Monism is a philosophical conception of reality that asserts that only Awareness is real and that the wholeness of Reality can be conceptually thought of in terms of immanent and transcendent aspects. The immanent aspect is denominated simply as Awareness, while the transcendent aspect is referred to as Omnific Awareness.

Awareness in this system is not equivalent to consciousness. Rather, Awareness is the venue for consciousness, and the transcendent aspect of Reality, Omnific Awareness, is what consciousness is of.

Within this system anything whatsoever can arise from Omnific Awareness, thus the use of the term “indefinite” in labeling this monism. What does arise as the existents that we are conscious of is conditioned by the affections of Awareness for its display. Thus this system does away with the idea of an active, creative force called Free Will and replaces it with an active volitional component known as affections, that does not itself create anything, whether movement or structure, but instead, constrains the possibilities of what arises naturally.

The distinction between physical phenomena and mental phenomena is also removed by this system. Omnific Awareness gives rise to everything – thus the use of the term omnific – and this includes thoughts that phenomenally arise in brains as well as existents that arise phenomenally as things in the world. By removing this distinction this system cuts off the inevitable paradoxes that otherwise arise in philosophical systems. The implications of this move create a number of novel, but necessary, modifications in current categorizations of ideas about reality and our study of it.

For instance, ontology – the study of being – is necessitated by the assumption of a physical world of separate things, but when viewed surjectively ontology collapses into epistemology – the study of the methods or grounds of knowledge. Similarly, by removing the distinction between mental and physical phenomena the tensions created in dualist understandings of reality of how the mental and physical interact with one another are dispelled. Surprisingly, the removal of this distinction also completely removes the need for claims of metaphysical realms of being or metaphysical processes, thus collapsing all of reality into this reality.