April 2013

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake argues in his Science Delusion talk that consciousness is fundamental to the universe; not ‘all in the brain’.

He identifies 10 materialist dogmas that science subscribes to:

1. Nature is mechanical or machine like.
2. Matter is unconscious.
3. The Laws of Nature and its Constants are fixed.
4. The amount of Energy and Matter are fixed.
5. Nature is purposeless.
6. Heredity is based on material in the genes.
7. Memories are stored in the brain.
8. Your mind is inside your head.
9. Psychic phenomena are impossible.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

Sheldrake shows that these dogmas can and should be challenged. Suggests that nature has ‘habits’ rather than ‘laws’; both are metaphors but maybe one is a biological metaphor and the other a mathematical metaphor.

Sheldrake’s thesis is that minds are “field-like” and extend beyond our brains. In another fascinating talk Sheldrake argues that minds reach out in every act of perception and our attention can be felt by others so we can sense when others are looking at us.

Ajhan Brahm on Life After Death

Ajhan Brahm talks about life after death in this video. In my experience it is unusual for a Buddhist teacher to talk this way and to be so explicit about what happens to consciousness and individuality after death. I understand that Buddha refused to say much about the afterlife or reincarnation because he felt it did not help people live this life. Too, language is designed for the experiential, physical realm not for whatever lies outside of this. Nevertheless Ajhan Brahm’s talking about the afterlife makes sense, as he says making the unknown known takes away the fear that goes with the unknown.

Ajhan Brahm has a voice that is difficult to listen to but what he says was compelling enough for me to persist for the hour that he speaks in this video. Key points for me were:

1. The notion that the mind/consciousness is more than the brain. Consciousness uses the brain while it is functional but not not need the brain. Brahm cites the case of a university student with “virtually no brain”; there are interesting discussions on this here and here.

2. The suggestion that Near Death Experiences happen when the brain stops functioning not when the heart stops.

3. In really deep meditation consciousness stops using the brain and there is a state similar somehow to an NDE.

Tai Chi and Qi Gong

Attended my second Tai Chi and Qi Gong class yesterday evening. It helped me reorient towards reality and I noticed that my vision which had been blurry on my way to the class was clearer. I felt clear this morning then still in bed I picked up my phone and started playing a game and noticed my vision blurring again. I’ve been spending far too much time staring at screens. My habits in recent weeks and months have become really bad; disconnected to reality. The Tai Chi/Qi Gong course is a way back. Too, I’ve not been getting out much and it’s good to interact with new people.

The class, in a hall at Stratford Circus, is run by Dan who is a White English man in his late twenties. Slightly built, he appears to know his stuff and is a reasonable teacher. His assistant is a young White woman who is not English; her accent is perhaps East European I forget her name. I am making an effort to remember the names of the people in the class.

Camille is a black woman around 27 years old. She is slim and taller than I am. This is her second term doing the class.

Maggie is a black woman about 45 years old. She is slim and shorter than I am.

Merle is white, late forties, she has a tattoo on her right upper arm.

Priya is Asian. She is aged about 25.

There is another Asian woman, she brought some food to share during our break between the Tai Chi and Qi Gong classes. She is in her late twenties maybe early thirties. She has an extraordinary smile but I have forgotten her name.

Yuri is Russian and in his late twenties. He mentions that he does power lifting. He is well built, not very tall but taller than I am.

There are others in the class but I did not interact with them. Besides Yuri and myself, there is one other male student in yesterday’s class. He is Asian and quite heavily built. Perhaps in his mid thirties.

It is important to note names and characteristics. I am aware that I do not do this enough. It is important for memory, for reflection and for improving my writing skills.

My Political Compass

“I think in a way we’re all Thatcherites now because, I mean, I think one of the things about her legacy is some of those big arguments that she had had, you know, everyone now accepts.” — David Cameron, Radio Four Today Programme, today.

Source: Telegraph Blog

There has been some discussion in the media about David Cameron’s remark that “we’re all Thatcherites now”. Nick Clegg denies being a Thatcherite saying:

“I certainly wouldn’t call myself a Thatcherite. I’m a Liberal, she wasn’t a Liberal. I’ve always called myself a Liberal, I always will.”

He conceded that Lady Thatcher had brought in some “necessary” economic changes to improve Britain but said it was wrong to suggest everyone has wholly accepted her policies.

“I don’t feel comfortable saying she was a role model in everything,” he said on his weekly LBC 97.3 Call Clegg radio phone-in.

Source: The Telegraph

Sounds like he’s just denying being “wholly” a Thatcherite.

A website called The Political Compass has some interesting charts that map political orientation by answers to a series of questions. According to the site Labour was with the Conservatives in the Right-Authoritarian (Thatcherite) quadrant at the time of the 2010 general election while the Lib Dems were in the Right-Libertarian quadrant. Since then the Lib Dems have of course joined the Conservatives.



My answers to the questions on the website make me a Left Libertarian, apparently more Left than any of the named parties and a little more Libertarian that the Greens who are in the same quadrant:


Maybe I should vote Green if that’s where my ‘political compass’ leads. While I’m now very cynical about Parliamentary Democracy, it’s the system that we have and can’t be completely abandoned as a tool for change. This broadcast by the Greens comes across as very genuine:

They are certainly worth looking at. More information on the Greens at the Bright Green website.