Tuesday, August 31, 2004

How to Develop a Millionaire Mind

"The Secret Psychology of Wealth"

"There is a secret psychology to money," says T. Harv Eker, internationally known speaker and author of 11 top-selling books and courses, "Most people don't know about it, that's why most people never reach their financial potential."

Eker explains, "Your outer world is simply a reflection of your inner world! A lack of money is not a problem, it is merely a symptom of what's going on underneath! The fastest and only way to permanently change your financial situation on the outside, is to first change it on the inside." Eker should know, using this strategy he went from zero to millionaire in only 2 1/2 years!

"Give me 5 minutes," says Eker, "and I can predict your financial future for the rest of your life! How? By identifying your 'personal money and success blueprint'." According to Eker we all have a money and success blueprint already ingrained in our subconscious. "It's imperative to recognize what your own financial blueprint is set for. Is it success, mediocrity or failure, struggle or ease, high or low earnings, consistent or inconsistent income, spending or saving, picking winning investments or picking losers?"

When asked how you can tell, Eker explains, "One way is to look at your results! If the temperature in a room is 72 degrees, chances are the thermostat is set for 72. Regardless of whether you are making $20,000 or $100,000 per year, unless you raise your 'internal money blueprint' you will never substantially raise your income or net worth."

"Unfortunately for most people," says Eker, "your current blueprint will stay with you for the rest of your life, unless you identify it and change it. There is a powerful, one evening seminar that will do just that. It's called The "Millionaire Mind, The Secret Psychology of Wealth." In this seminar you will learn how to completely recondition yourself for financial success. For many people, the change will be immediate and permanent."

Here's just a portion of what you'll learn!

  • The 5 critical ways rich people think differently than the poor & middle class.
  • The hidden cause of almost all financial problems.
  • How your childhood conditioning is affecting you financially today.
  • Why knowledge & skill do not create wealth.
  • How to attract so-called "luck" with money and success.
  • How to train your "mind" to work for you instead of against you.

"Money miracles can occur when we get out of our own way," says Eker. "The problem is, by ourselves, we can never see what's holding us back from reaching our full potential. Einstein said it best, "you can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it." The information in this course is extremely powerful! If you learn the strategies and use them, your financial life will change forever."

Over the past 12 years, Eker has helped over 100,000 people change their lives. Here's what a few of his students have shared.

"Since attending your program several months ago, my income has quadrupled. Thanks!" -Sian Lindem

"I am a real estate agent. After the course, in one weekend I closed four deals!" -Debbie Filippelli

"Since the course my income has taken a quantum leap. I have saved more money in the last 10 months than I have in the previous 10 years. Thank you!" -Robert Hall

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Orgasms Are All In The Mind

By James Doherty and Kath Gourlay
The Scotsman
(Click on headline to read original story)

It's a scientific fact: human brains are programmed for orgasms - with or without the actual sex act.

Perhaps nobody listening to football commentators will be surprised by the news, claimed to have been proven by one of the lecturers at this week’s Orkney International Science Festival. Dr Robert Lomas - a solid-state physicist and an internationally known author on religious symbolism - says that evolution has allowed humans to develop the sex-free orgasm.

"It’s the same reward mechanism that encourages us to share our DNA," said Dr Lomas. "But it can be achieved without the physical act of copulation."

Only humans have this power to induce mental ecstasy, and it’s a complex set of responses that can be achieved by learned behavioural patterns or triggered by hyper-arousal during peak experiences, he says.

"At times of hyper-arousal, our brains are designed to freeload on the behavioural reward that encourages us to reproduce," he said. "And that is another name for orgasm."

For those who laughed at the idea of the Barbarella-type "orgasmatron" - Jane Fonda popping pills, touching palms with her bemused boyfriend and staying three feet away from him - Dr Lomas says the film is closer to science fact than fiction. "If the orgasmic response in her brain was being triggered by a programmed release of chemically or electrically stimulated hormones, it could be done, if the programming was right," he said.

However, the days of a drug being widely available on the NHS are still a long way off.

"Artificially creating the right combination of neuropeptides is very complex," Dr Lomas explained. "Your tension and relaxation levels have to be in perfect balance before your arousal system is tripped. It’s like trying to balance a marble on the tip of a ballpoint pen."

Dr Lomas said the trigger factors leading to that elusive brain state have to be induced through repetitive behavioural patterns using ritual and posture.

"All these mystics haven’t really given up sex," said Dr Lomas. "It’s just a different form of orgasm."

This analysis forms the basis of the fifth book in the Hiram Key series, which has produced controversial theories on the mindset of man from pre- history to the present day.

Turning the Hiram Key looks like keeping to that tradition, with detailed discussion on how masonic ritual contains the elements needed for inducing mental ecstasy.

Dr Cynthia McVey, a psychologist from Glasgow Caledonian University, said that from puberty onwards, achieving orgasm without sexual contact happens in our dreams.

"With nocturnal emissions, there is no sex act involved there," she said. "That shows the power of the brain over the body. In order to propagate the species, we need sex.

"Pain provides a safety mechanism to preserve the body and, in the same way, we must be programmed to experience a sexual interlude as pleasurable - it helps to propagate the species."

Monday, August 30, 2004

More Mind Over Matter Medicine

By Randall Fitzgerald
Phenomena Magazine

(Click on headline for original source)

Intensely held beliefs, expectations, and fears shape our experiences of healing, often determining whether we will fully and rapidly recover from ailments, or whether our health will decline and even result in death.

After decades of denial and scoffing by the medical establishment, this psycho-physical phenomenon is finally being recognized and documented by mainstream medical science researchers. Just in the past three years a surge of research activity into the relationship between placebos and healing has emerged with results that provide a glimpse at the mind-over-illness potential existing within each of us.

Here is a sampling of those fascinating findings:

--Six patients with Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease whose symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, and slowness of movement, received either placebo sugar pills or the drug apomorphine, which releases dopamine into the brain. Dopamine scarcity is thought to cause the symptoms. Patients in this study weren’t informed if they were absorbing the placebo or the drug medication.

In every patient given a placebo, the patient’s brain produced dopamine at a level comparable to that produced in patients who took the medication. Scientists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who conducted this study in 2001, speculated that either a ‘non-specific faith’ on the part of placebo patients was responsible for the effects, a kind of mind/matter mechanism unknown to science. Or some type of physiological memory, a Pavlovian response, occurred in which the body responded to an expected reward based on previous experiences with medication.

--That last explanation was seemingly undermined by a subsequent study. A team of medical researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles used a brain imaging technique called quantitative electroencephalography to monitor the brain activity of 51 patients suffering major depression. Over a nine-week period in 2001, these patients were given either a placebo pill or an antidepressant medication.

Nearly half of patients given placebos reported improvements in their mood, a rate almost comparable in number to those given antidepressants who reported mood elevation. But the bigger surprise for scientists came when the brain scans revealed that placebos created a dramatic change in brain activity. “We now know that a placebo is, very definitely, an active treatment condition,” declared Professor Andrew Leuchter, writing in The American Journal of Psychiatry.


--At the University of Turin Medical School in Italy, a group of Parkinson’s patients were given a salt solution placebo and then had the neurons of their brain scanned through surgically implanted electrodes. Their neurons responded in exactly the same way as when they had earlier received a drug prescribed to ease their symptoms by releasing dopamine. “It’s the first time we’ve seen the placebo effect at the single neuron level,” wrote Fabrizio Benedetti in his 2004 paper for Nature Neuroscience.

A final study that may offer a key to the placebo effect was presented to the annual Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting this past May in San Francisco. A team of Stanford University researchers found that people can learn to suppress pain, and possibly lessen depression and other ailments, when a new biofeedback technique shows them the activity in the pain-control region of their own brains.

Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner (MRI), eight volunteers were able to see their brain activity, represented as a flame on a screen, in the brain area known to modulate both the intensity and emotional impact of pain. Each volunteer received painful heat on the palm of one hand while attempting to increase or decrease the signal from the brain scanner. All eight volunteers successfully learned to control their own pain intensity after just three 13-minute sessions hooked up to the MRI.

Even after these sessions, the volunteers reported they maintained the ability to alter their brain activity to control pain symptoms. Neither the volunteers nor the scientists who tested them could explain how this was possible.

Taken together, these studies suggest that each of us has our own internal pharmacy, and we can, with enough belief, faith, or training, release these drugs inside ourselves at will to cure ailments and bolster our immune systems. The implications could revolutionize our understanding of medicine and health, an advance in wisdom especially needed during this time in our history when escalating medical costs, and a dependence on medical technology, has mostly robbed us of the ability to exercise choice, fiscal restraint, and self-sufficiency.

In my next column, we will consider the placebo effect’s equally potent ‘evil twin,’ the belief catalyst called ‘nocebo,’ a Latin word meaning ‘I will harm,’ that enables people to literally scare themselves to death.

Randall Fitzgerald is a Phenomena senior editor and the author of seven books on a variety of subjects. You can find out more about his mind research by visiting his website at www.doctorluck.com.

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Mental Ping-Pong Could Aid Paraplegics

By Mark Peplow

(Click on headline to read original story)

Neuroscientists have created a computer game based on table tennis that people can play using nothing more than the power of their minds. It is hoped that the technology will one day train people to generate neural signals that could control a wheelchair or communication device.

Each 'brain pong' player lies in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, usually reserved for medical brain scans. After a short period of training, the players are able to make their ping-pong bat move up and down the screen by concentrating on specific thoughts. Sophisticated data analysis software makes the system responsive enough for two players to compete in real time.

"It's exciting that for the first time we have two subjects whose brains are interacting like this," says Rainer Goebel, a neuroscientist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who described the work on 27 August at the EuroScience Open Forum in Stockholm, Sweden.

Other researchers have shown that it is possible to control cursors on a computer screen by detecting electrical signals from the brain. But this is the first two-player game that exploits brain activity. The improved sensitivity of fMRI also makes it much easier to learn to control the bat, says Goebel.

Intensive training

Functional MRI works by picking up tiny magnetic signals from oxygen bound to iron dissolved in the bloodstream. As brain activity increases in a particular area, the blood flow increases, bringing more oxygen with it and increasing the signal strength. The technique can measure specific areas of the brain with millimetric accuracy, and most subjects proved adept at switching thoughts 'on' and 'off' after just three 45-minute training sessions.

Goebel and his colleagues hope that the new technology could help paraplegic people to train the activity of a localized area of their brains, generating signals that could steer a wheelchair or work a communication device. Although fMRI machines are far too large to carry around, the training would help individuals to generate a clear signal that could then be detected using a more portable EEG machine.

The technology might even help people with mental disorders such as depression or schizophrenia, which are caused by excessive activity in parts of the brain. If patients were able to visualize the activity of troublesome brain areas, Goebel believes they could learn to steer their brains away from the patterns of activity that cause their symptoms.

Mental orchestra

The specific method of training varies from subject to subject. "We have to find the area of the brain that the subject can control best," explains Bettina Sorger, who worked with Goebel on the project. One option is to imagine faces, because there are particular, isolated areas of the brain that deal with such thoughts.

"But it can be really different from one person to the next. We have one subject, a musician, who can vividly imagine the sight and sound of a concert, and that's a very specific brain region," says Sorger.

If the musician wants the ping-pong bat to move up the screen, he adds more and more musicians to his mental orchestra, increasing the intensity of his vision to a crescendo. To move the bat back down the screen, he clears his mind of such thoughts until the bat rests at the base of the screen. It is just like visualizing a volume control, says Goebel.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hypnosis's Magic Is That It Works

During a hypnotism show, the amazing Dr. Z once had a volunteer stick him with a long needle. Unruffled, he kept chatting with the audience as blood dripped to the stage floor.

"I suggested to myself that it would not hurt, and it didn't," he explained.

But Dr. Z is no stage huckster. His real name is Phil Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University, past president of the American Psychological Association, and a fervent believer in the magic of hypnotism. On Saturday, during the association's conference in Toronto, he will try to hypnotize hundreds of audience members as part of a discussion on the topic.

"Hypnotism has been one of the great mysteries of the centuries," Zimbardo says. "We have no real idea about how it works."

Indeed, in this era of molecular biology, when powerful magnetic fields can shed light on the complex workings of the brain, the very notion of hypnotism seems antiquated, a carnival throwback to the days of crystal balls and Ouija boards. But doctors say hypnotism not only works, it often succeeds when modern medicine fails.

"Hypnosis is still one of the main techniques in pain clinics, especially in burn clinics, and hypnosis works incredibly well in childbirth and with cancer patients," Zimbardo says.
Yet the versatile technique is increasingly being shut out of health care, largely because pain drugs, anti-depressants and other pharmaceuticals have replaced the need for hypnotism. Hypnotherapists say this is a shame because hypnotism has no side effects, causes no allergic reactions, is not addictive and can even be taught to patients to self-administer -- for free.

"I'm using it right now to control the pain of a torn rotator cuff," Zimbardo says.

The mechanics of hypnotism are ancient. The first known performance was given at the court of Khufu in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago. An account of the performance was recorded on papyrus. Its modern history began in the mid-1700s when French healer Frederick Anton Mesmer used magnets to cure disease. Mesmer also believed an invisible magnetic fluid resided in the therapist's body, which cured the afflicted parts of a patient's body. The term "mesmerized" is still sometimes used to describe a person paying rapt attention, a good description of a hypnotic trance.

Although his theories were later discredited, neuroscientists in Australia have recently used magnetism to alter human behaviour. Known as transcranial magnetic stimulation, the technique uses weak magnetic fields to cause subjects to concentrate on tasks with unusual power, much like people who are hypnotized.

A much darker side of hypnotism was invented in 1894, when George du Maurier's book Trilby was published. The tale of a woman who fell under the control of a hypnotist named Svengali, the book captured the public's imagination.

In the 1920s, stage hypnotists began to put on lurid shows across North America and Europe. The performers, who often made audience members do such embarrassing tasks as disrobing in public, made hypnotism seem like a diabolical power that controlled people against their will. Indeed, the shows were banned in some U.S. states, including Oregon, where the ban was recently repealed.

Yet despite its long history, scientists have wondered whether hypnotism is a genuine psychological state or a gimmick.

But recent research shows it causes measurable changes in the brain.

Last year, Stanford University psychiatric researcher David Spiegel used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to watch changes in brain function in volunteers who were highly hypnotizable.

The hypnotized volunteers were told to see colour. Then, regardless of whether or not the researchers showed them colour, the areas of the visual cortex that registers colour would fire. When the researchers told them to see "grey" objects, the volunteers had less activity in the colour zones of the brain.

"When they believed they were looking at colour, the part of their brain that processes colour vision showed increased blood flow," said Spiegel, who is presenting hypnosis research at the Toronto conference today.

"This is scientific evidence that something happens in the brain that doesn't happen ordinarily when people are hypnotized."

Spiegel describes hypnosis as a state of aroused attentive focal concentration. It's like looking through a telephoto lens of a camera, which renders great detail but shuts out one's surroundings.

Far from the zombie-like sleep state of popular myth, it is a form of focused attention. He believes every doctor should be taught the simple hypnosis techniques to help patients manage anxiety and pain.

Until he lost six teeth in a hockey mishap, Vancouver software designer Tom Handel thought hypnotism was a hokey party trick.

"It turns out I'm allergic to anesthetic," says Handel, who underwent three surgeries.
"So my dental surgeon offered to use hypnosis. My first reaction was, 'Yeah, right. That'll really work.' But it actually did take away the pain."

Handel's dental surgeon told him to imagine the surgery was a form of carving. All the sharp instruments would be working on soft wood, making a nice design, not on his mouth.

Today, Handel uses self-hypnotism to help him work on projects.

"I relax with slow breathing techniques, then focus on how I'm going to work productively the next day, wasting no time and taking no breaks. It works great."

What remains a scientific mystery is how hypnotism works. In spite of all the stage gimmicks, hypnosis is nothing more than words.

"It's just sounds," Zimbardo says.

"And if you don't speak the language, it's meaningless."

One theory is that a brain region called the anterior cingulate gyrus, which fires when people generate meaning to words, allows the brain to divide its attention. This causes the consciousness to be driven into two separate streams, with a barrier between them. Known as the dissociated control theory, this suggests even though one stream of consciousness is aware of pain, this sensation is kept "hidden" from the other stream, which is intensely focused on some task or image.

However, not everyone is affected the same way.

People who are more imaginative, and children, are hypnotizable, while more literal-minded people, such as newspaper editors, are not. About 25% of the population is deemed highly hypnotizable, while others may be susceptible after several treatments. The most important part is the hypnotee, not the hypnotist.

"Those stage hypnotists that give hypnosis a bad name are really great entertainers," Zimbardo says.

"Since you're paying to see them, they convince the audience that they have special powers, and they have none. Their skill is picking out people that are highly hypnotizable without going through a long testing procedure. They use stage tricks. For example, they go around before the show begins and they shake people's hands. And as they shake your hand, they try to manipulate you. Some people, they can easily turn their hand from left to right, and those people are more pliable.

"Other people, when you shake their hand, they're not going to be moved, and the [hypnotist] says 'thank you very much' and they don't use them in the show."

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DNA Called "Antennae to God"

More than a map of life, DNA processes spirituality according to the latest research. A lengthy review of scientific achievements in the field of genetics compiled by a team of experts indicates that life evolved from spiritual, more than physical, forces.

Three years of multidisciplinary study by a team of health science, mathematics, genetics, and physics experts, indicates that DNA, traditionally considered the “blueprint of life,” appears more like an “antennae to God.” Led by internationally known public health authority and award winning author, Dr. Leonard Horowitz, the group's research, to be published in October, shows that DNA's coiled design, vibrating action, and “electrogenetic” function makes spiritual as well as physical evolution possible.

Life's genomes are empowered by waves and particles of energized sound and light which, more than chemicals or drugs, switch genes “on” or “off.” Likewise, genetic inheritance is energetically transmitted “bioacoustically and electromagnetically” through special water molecules that form the electrogenetic matrix of the “Sacred Spiral.” These hydroelectric geometric structures—most shaped like pyramids, hexagons, and pentagons—direct physical as well as spiritual development, according to researchers.

Metaphysically, water molecules shaped like pyramids relay energy messages to and from DNA. These signals are carried from the environment to every cell in your body; far more rapidly than scientists once believed based solely on chemical analyses.

These findings raise important questions concerning theories underlying modern medicine, spirituality, and even reincarnation according to Dr. Horowitz. The realization that energy messages, including ancient ancestral memories, may be relayed electro-genetically can help in healing, lending spiritual meaning to life, and reconciling “past life” experiences.

The science reported in DNA: Pirates of the Sacred Spiral, published by the not-for-profit Tetra hedron Publishing Group ($29.15; 1-888-508-4787), links the genetic revolution to a “spiritual renaissance.” After polling nearly 10,000 people internationally for background research, the Harvard-trained Dr. Horowitz concludes “more and more people are experiencing increased synchronicities and even miracles in their lives. . . . Working on special projects, they suddenly and inexplicably manifest everything they need to facilitate their service, purpose, or unique calling. This is a form of genetic expression as much as eye color,” he says.

Their soon to be published, meticulously documented, book is written for “intelligent lay readers and above.” It argues that quantum energy, often called spirituality, animates evolution of the species, genetic expression, and life. The authors believe such awareness and growing social consciousness bodes well for the entire planet.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Brain Implants Read Monkey Minds

Brain implants have been used to "read the minds" of monkeys to predict what they are about to do and even how enthusiastic they are about doing it.

It is the first time such high level cognitive brain signals have been decoded and could ultimately lead to more natural thought-activated prosthetic devices for people with paralysis, says Richard Andersen project leader at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, US.

By decoding the signals from 96 electrodes in a region of the brain just above the ear – called the parietal cortex - the researchers were able to predict 67 per cent of the time where in their visual field trained monkeys were planning to reach.

They also found that this accuracy could be improved to about 88 per cent when the monkeys expected a reward for carrying out the task.

The team were even able to predict what sort of reward the monkeys were expecting - whether it was juice or just plain water – from their brain signals.

"In the future you could apply this cognitive approach to language areas of the brain," says Andersen. By doing so it may be possible to decode the words someone was thinking, he says.

Previous research by Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has shown how electrodes implanted in the motor cortices of monkeys can be used to control a robot arm. But this involved recording signals used to control muscles to move the monkey's arm.

The new findings could in theory make this simpler by allowing, say, a paralysed patient to merely specify which object to reach for, and let the robot worry about how it gets there.

The monkeys were trained to think about a particular point in their visual field before reaching for it while the researchers recorded signals in an area Andersen calls the "reach region".

This area is associated with planning, he says. "It takes information from the sensory system and forms early plans for intention."

Previously it has not been clear whether these signals were cognitive or simply related to where the monkey was looking, says John Chapin, at State University of New York who is carrying out related work using a different part of the brain.

Andersen believes this work shows the signals are cognitive because the monkeys were trained not to move their eyes during their experiments so the signals are not linked directly to sensory input.

Ultimately the only way to be really sure, says Chapin, is to try it on humans.

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What Are Prodromic Dreams?

Prodromic means 'before running' and refers to dreams which seem to give a symbolic or even direct indication of something, in particular an illness, that has not yet manifested physically in the dreamer. Thus, a worrying, perplexing dream or series of dreams about a system of underground pipes could refer to an impending vascular condition.

The usual rationale for such dreams is that the unconscious has such an intimate link to the body that it becomes aware of minuscule symptoms long before they can be consciously perceived.

The dream provides the communication channel to consciousness - but of course the information may not be interpreted and appreciated. In fact, two possibilities exist here : either, as stated, the unconscious passively picks up the early symptoms, or the unconscious causes the physical condition. However, yet another theoretical possibility is that the prior information arrives, via some psychic means, as a premonition - before anything can possibly be detected - or caused.

We must not allow any biases of thinking to influence us here - we must look only at the facts. Here are two cases of apparent symbolic indicators of developing illness, reported by the same man : 'I had an upsetting dream in which I was holding a baby and running along a cliff-top, being pursued by my brother in law - who was shouting to me to drop the baby. Suddenly a man in a black cloak appeared in front of me. The man held up a large crucifix and told me to hand over the baby. However, on looking at the child, I saw that it had turned into an ugly creature. As I looked at it, the creature gave out a terrible howl, lashed its long tongue round the top of my arm and I felt this painful burn and dropped the baby. The pain was still present that morning as I was telling my wife about the dream.

A few days later a rash developed at the site and shingles was diagnosed. Interestingly, I discovered later that shingles was in earlier times known as the curse of Satan.' 'I dreamed that I was sleeping on a water bed but that it developed a leak. I had a finger in the hole trying to stop the water escaping. I woke up with my finger pressed into my navel. I was taken into hospital a few days later with a cyst near my navel.'

A dream diagnosis that one woman had may have saved her life : 'I was living in California. I worked in a hospital. I'd recently had my annual physical examination, including a cervical smear. I dreamed that a man, maybe eight feet tall, dressed in white, stood before me. He told me I had cancer. I decided to go anonymously for an extra examination at a woman's clinic.

Three days later I received a call telling me that I had a positive result indicating a pre-cancerous condition. I had surgery.' A dream cure seems to have been given to this woman : 'I was in hospital expecting a baby. My blood pressure was extremely high and no medications could lower it. One night, after two weeks of being in hospital, I dreamt that my granddad, who is dead, walked into the ward and handed me a tiny bottle with some dark substance inside. He told me to drink it - so I did.

After the dream that night, the night nurse took my blood pressure. It was still high. However, in the morning I was told that my blood pressure had gone back to normal. The doctor, looking at my chart said that it was a miracle. I wanted to tell them what had happened that night, but I thought they would laugh at me.'

Some cases seem to include a psychic, precognitive, component : 'In my dream, I was looking down on myself in an operating theatre and could see a man leaning over me. He turned around and I could see he was a surgeon cutting open my throat. The dream ended there and although it was disturbing, I quickly put it out of my mind. Two years later I started to have problems with my eyes and needed an operation for an over-active thyroid in my throat. When I met the surgeon I was amazed to find he looked just like the man who operated on me in my dream !'

To assume that the dream simply reflects unconsciously detected symptoms is to put the unconscious in an uncharacteristically passive role. Actually, we know that the unconscious can cause a range of illnesses or worse, as indeed it can improve a person's state of health.

The 'conversion reaction neuroses' - such as hysterical paralysis, blindness, deafness, and so on - exhibit the power of the unconscious over the body. The Aboriginal 'bone pointing' curse can apparently sometimes cause death for the selected victim. Equally, a positive attitude in a person stricken with illness can cause a miraculous reversal in what might usually be a downward path.

It must therefore be likely that some prodromic dreams reflect an intention on the part of the unconscious to hurt the individual. The reason is not sensible and does not aid self-protection, so it must be for some distorted, psychological purpose concerning an unresolved issue. Darwinian self-preservation does not enter into the equation in such cases.

It is rather mind-blowing to consider that some of our illnesses may be self inflicted symbols of an inner psychological conflict, but it is even more of a challenge to the logic we have been used to, to think that the future state of the body can be viewed in dreams purely psychically. Once again though, that may actually be the case.

When the impossible has been eliminated, then whatever remains - no matter how unlikely - must be the truth. If that is so, we must adjust our mind-sets accordingly and not pretend otherwise. From the point of view of the passive unconscious illness detector, a possibility that already exists is that dreamers utilize 'lucid' dreams - in which they become conscious and can manipulate the dream - to conjure up a 'dream doctor', who using fantastic equipment, can diagnose future illnesses.

An alternative view is that the method will detect illnesses the individual is going to make happen - as if they are deserved or pre-programmed in some way. Or perhaps the individual's medical future as such might be observed by supernormal means. Whatever the process, this is a potentially very important area for medical research because it could give incredibly useful forewarning of bodily malfunction.

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The Science of Buddhism

When Charles Darwin proposed the crowning scientific theory of the 19th century, a wide public understood enough of it to passionately debate evolution and natural selection. But not even physicists today fully understand the similarly significant theories of quantum mechanics, first proposed early in the 20th century. With Western scientific thought apparently at its limits, a group of scientists recently looked for help from a man who, until he was a teenager, believed that the world was flat: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

The resulting dialogue between the Dalai Lama, several other Buddhist scholars and a group of Western physicists and philosophers (including Harvard's Tu Weiming, formerly of UC Berkeley) makes up physicist Arthur Zajonc's graceful and insightful new book, The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues With the Dalai Lama. This five-day conference at the Dalai Lama's compound in Dharamsala, India, in 1997 was not the first or last of these conclaves. Since they began a decade earlier, there have been 11 discussions convened by the organization created to arrange them, the Mind and Life Institute.

Seven books have resulted so far, and DVDs of the most recent conference, at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., last fall, are available from http://www.mindandlife.org/. Several books have emerged from discussions between the Dalai Lama and Western scientists, but the Mind and Life series is itself a kind of story, one of continuing and fascinating cross- cultural collaboration -- even a kind of convergence -- on subjects suddenly of common importance.

Most of the conferences with the Dalai Lama didn't deal with physics. They began with topics on the mind. Though largely self-educated in Western science, the Dalai Lama expressed keen interest in new developments in brain sciences and related fields, wishing to test his belief that ethical behavior is inherent in human nature and can be nurtured without reference to any religious doctrine. As leader of Tibetan Buddhism, he was also intrigued by what Western science had to say on workings of the mind that Buddhist scholars and advanced meditation practitioners had been exploring for several thousand years.

At the same time, neuroscientists using the latest technologies were challenging old assumptions about the relationship of brain and body. Psychologists were trying to account for abilities to change physical states (such as body temperature), as specifically demonstrated by individuals adept at meditation, when such influences on the body by the mind was thought impossible. Western science had emphasized external influences and was just beginning to investigate human life from the inside. So in various disciplines loosely grouped as mind sciences, some scientists were eager to experiment with more advanced meditation subjects, and they were ready to hear different points of view.

The mood of the early conferences seemed eager but uncertain, with the participants especially amazed by the Dalai Lama's scientific mind. Scientists exclaiming that his questions anticipated their next area of research, or otherwise demonstrated remarkable analytical acuity, is a recurring theme throughout these books, as is the Dalai Lama often repeating that if science can prove a Buddhist assumption wrong, that assumption should be discarded. Trust is established as the Buddhists find the scientists both forthright and respectful, and the scientists appreciate the sophistication of Buddhist thought, which is based on rigorous training in logical debate as well as introspection.

While personalities percolate more obviously on video, they manifest in print as well through questions, quick exchanges and doggedly systematic, briskly trenchant and passionately eloquent presentations. These dialogues had to navigate continuing disagreements and deeply different assumptions (just the differences between Buddhist enlightenment and the European Enlightenment are revealing), but the findings and methods of each tradition illuminate the other, so for readers these books become an education in both.

By the time of the conference in 2000, which was covered in Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue With the Dalai Lama, edited by Daniel Goleman, scientists were collaborating with Buddhists in designing and conducting new laboratory experiments involving advanced meditators and their ability to influence measurable brain activities, and were brainstorming on educational programs on emotional literacy. Some scientists took their own research in new directions partly as a result of these dialogues. (Participants from the Bay Area included UC Berkeley psychologist Eleanor Rosch, UC San Francisco psychologist Paul Ekman, psychologist Jeanne Tsai and professor of religion Lee Yearly of Stanford.)

Zajonc's "New Physics" suggests the dramatic quality of the dialogues and the emotional impact of the conference experience. Physics became a topic partly because of the Dalai Lama's curiosity, but Western scientists had their own reasons. Because quantum physics implies an apparently determining role for the human mind on the phenomena observed, it shatters Western notions of objective reality. Tibetan Buddhism has been investigating the correlations of thought and reality for centuries. The nuanced Buddhist ideas of "dependent arising," which explore relationships of perception, expectations and reality, were particularly intriguing to both physicists and mind scientists. The physics dialogue didn't create a new way of understanding quantum reality but did suggest a path to it. The new physics and mind science both lead quickly to questions once considered the sole province of spirituality, and also to other traditions, not only to Buddhism, but as Tu Weiming points out, to indigenous thought such as Hawaiian, Maori and American Indian.

"I think the time is ripe for imagining a new kind of education," he asserts. "It is highly desirable, maybe even necessary, that this new education integrates the self-cultivation of the Buddhist and other traditions. ... It will enhance the communal, critical self-awareness of some of the most creative and reflective members of the scientific community. This is absolutely necessary for a new breakthrough."

For the Dalai Lama, the emphasis on the human mind's profound role in reality has an ethical dimension. "Therefore, the future of humanity is in the hands of humanity itself," he says, concluding the physics dialogue. "We have the responsibility to create a better world, a happier world, and a more peaceful world." These books illuminate just how deep, common and unavoidable a responsibility that is, even if we don't believe it.

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