Science Is a Limited Religion

Science is not only compatible with spiritualityMany times when I am teaching spirituality, I run into the question of the scientific validity and proof that spirituality is true, real. I suspect that happens because of my scientific background – like attracts like. I certainly had to move past old beliefs rooted in science to be open to something bigger. That doesn’t mean I have abandoned science. It means that when I need to be in MIND, I use science. When I need to be in SOUL, I use something else.

My own path found me resistant to energy work. I studied Therapeutic Touch because it had so much nursing research being conducted, and it was being taught by nurses. I probably like Deepak Chopra so much because he talks about research in what he does. Dr. Christian Northrup unites medicine and spiritual awareness. And the Quantum Activist is the ultimate union of the science and spirituality. I recognize whole heartedly that there can be and is significant criticism of the science reflected by all of those teachers. And that very criticism opens a great conversation.

Science is a tool for understanding and controlling the physical world. It is a tool for uncovering facts that are repeatable and measurable. That is how the physical world is organized. It is governed by law, by repeatable rules. I remember explaining to a physical scientist how excited I was by my dissertation findings. I told him the results of my multiple regression (a predictive statistical analysis) and he immediately offered me condolences on my failure. My regression had a .83, meaning my theory could account for 83% of what was observed. In psychology, that is a really excellent finding. In physical science, any number lower than 95 to 98 is unacceptable. So, right there in the science, we have assumptions made about what the acceptable threshold reflects as “truth”.

In psychology and medicine, we use research techniques to control for placebo effects. For a long time, we considered the phenomenon of healing because you believe you are being treated with a cure as some form of error term. We saw it as a flaw. In science now, the placebo effect is worthy of study. It isn’t much different than the research in quantum physics that says what we observe changes and is effected by the observer. This seems like an important area of inquiry into the human potential.

I have friends who see science as the only truth. And to me, that is when science starts to be a lot like religion. Religion requires you to accept one doctrine of truth, one set of values that are acceptable. It creates one scenario of living. Decisions are made based on likely outcomes, and most possibilities are laid out linearly, with little expectation of variation. Science does not like variation. We control for variation. If you want to live in the physical plane only, I think science is a really great tool for that world.

I am not criticising that world. I use science in my day to day work all the time. I am excellent at taking several data points and connecting them into what they could be saying. I am a fan of asking “Other than your own opinion, what do you base that decision on?”. I know that we use beliefs in decision making, and part of my job is looking for biases that limit a business’s performance. And I use data for that. Quantitative data and qualitative inquiry are big parts of my work.

But, at some point it is possible to wake up and see that there are other layers than the ones in the physical world. And even science suggests this to be true. We are seeing greater convergence in the thinking and findings of science and spirituality than ever before. I suspect that is a reflection of shifts in global consciousness. It is beautiful and exciting. It is exciting because it is open to more potential.  Even if in the end that potential flies in the face of what I believe, I love that the conversation is now happening.

I am currently working through the book E Squared.  “E-Squared could best be described as a lab manual with simple experiments to prove once and for all that reality is malleable, that consciousness trumps matter, and that you shape your life with your mind. Rather than take it on faith, you are invited to conduct nine 48-hour experiments to prove there really is a positive, loving, totally hip force in the universe. Yes, you read that right. It says prove. The experiments, each of which can be conducted with absolutely no money and very little time expenditure, demonstrate that spiritual principles are as dependable as gravity, as consistent as Newton’s laws of motion. For years, you’ve been hoping and praying that spiritual principles are true. Now, you can know. ”   – Pam Grout

I can tell you that the results of the experiments line up with one’s beliefs and consciousness.  I have been doing it with my 6 year old.  She manifests results more easily, possibly because she has less stuff in the way.  But we are both getting results.  Are they consistent with the scientific method? Probably not.  They are not repeatable in that I will get different results as I shift my consciousness.  So, I worked on manifesting a purple feather, and it showed up on a hat on a TV character, not in my hand. Later,  I manifested a free movie ticket – a very tangible item.  As I practice, my results are more in line with my intent.  But it takes practice.  Science does not take practice – it observes what already is in existence in the physical realm.  But even there, it cannot predict with certainty if you will develop cancer, or if you will be better at hockey or soccer.  There is still room for pure potential to manifest, even with science.Sun_moon_from_North_Pole_smaller

I can tell you that I live in a world of potential.  That is what hope is to me – the knowing that more is possible, even in the face of circumstances that tell you otherwise.  I cannot live a life that is not filled with pure potential.  And that is why science is a limited religion: it confirms what is.  Only what is.

Applying Tantra to Everyday Fears

iraqi-girlI have a strong reaction of repulsion to violence.  I cannot watch violence on TV or movies – I cover my eyes.  I cry and become nauseous when I read about or see violence done to children.  The picture I have attached of the Iraqi girl tears my heart out.  I saw this on Facebook, and the story says she lost her mother to war, and drew this to go to for comfort.  Even as I write that I am sobbing.

I remember watching an episode of Stargate Atlantis, where Samantha Carter has to close the door to a bunker with a child, Cassandra, in it.  The child has potentially been built as a bomb, and when she goes off, she will kill everyone around her. Samantha had the moral fortitude to go in and stay with her, even though she would die, rather than leave a child in terror. This episode had me crying for hours, and I ran upstairs and held my daughter.

While violence regarding children is most difficult for me, I struggle with all violence.  I get irritable in the mountains.  The Magus once suggested it was because mountains are formed through a sort of violence. Regardless, I avoid violence as much as I can.726

Tantra would say that avoiding something is as off balancing as being addicted to something.  All things are the divine.  I have struggled with how to see the divine in violence.

Today, I was happily listening to my audio recording of Christopher Wallis.  He is a profound scholar in Tantra, and has written the cornerstone book on it, Tantra Illuminated.  I went into a large store to pick up a few things, and I was enjoying my inner reflections about what I had heard him talk about and how it resonated with me.  I was so engrossed I didn’t pay attention to the man beside me muttering.  So he got louder to make sure I knew he wanted me to hear him.

“Stupid *insert racial slur here*,” he said. “They don’t know what they are doing.  I used to work there.  All those people are stupid.”

I was stunned.  I surround myself with such loving people that I seem to have lost my ability to recall that hate and fear and violence and racism are part of the world too.

“Oh?” was all I managed.  I wanted to take him on, to use my privileged position in society to try to change his mind. “That is unfortunate. I had a great experience.  I think people try their best every day.”  I avoided anything that suggested I heard the racism, and wanted to reflect unity and oneness in our human experience. He scowled, and walked off muttering to himself some more.

At one level, this encounter made me nauseous and sad.  I felt like I had somehow failed.  And this is the second time this week something has happened that made me think I should be more, intervene, do something about it.  So, from a tantric philosophy perspective, what is the truth here? What is my truth? What about me is being revealed?the-only-thing-necessary-for-evil

I took a deep breath, and went into the stillness.  Look at the words I used.  Privilege…do I feel I have to pay something back? Is it the helpless feeling, that if I don’t do something to change this I am failing? Is it my own questions about deservedness playing out? I once had a personal story and identity of being champion of the underdog.  Just a few months ago I would tell people that all the Yuck in the organization with which I worked eventually came to me to sort out.

We see the world as we are, not as how it is.  If I move out these aspects of story, what I can see it the divine play of how the experience serves to show me what is alive and unresolved in myself.  To point me down a path of inquiry that lines up with my intentions for knowing and being a deeper truth.A pink lotus flower and lily pads with saturated color

For once, I am willing to let go of having to do something about this, and see the man as God coming to talk to me about my stuff.  And so I can bless him for being a messenger of the divine. I can see the love inside of me, and how that love suffers from seeing the lack of love in violence.  I can know the potential of love and peace for him and for all of humanity.  And I can let go of the pain of the story that says I am helpless or not enough to simply be in the experience of this energy.

And to me, today, that is Tantra, baby!

The Well Intentioned Ego: A Call for Ethical Standards in Holistic Practice

shadow_selfI have studied and practiced psychology for 20 years and I have been a Reiki Master for 15.  I have been a student of metaphysics for nearly 30 years.  And through out that time, I have been uncomfortable that there is no code of ethics for metaphysicians in holistic practice.  There are “little ethics”; a Reiki master will teach her students some standards, and there are associations that require you to adhere to a standard for membership.  A medium may have a standard of what they bring into the consultation.  But there is no common standard out there for clients or for practitioners that allow us to have a conversation about if the ego is coming in to the work.  It is an ironic twist that often even challenging a practitioner on a potential ego issue turns into a quagmire of ego talking to ego.  I think this can be resolved if we agree on common ethical principles about how we show up in the holistic relationship.

I greatly admire the Spiritual Practitioners of the Centers for Spiritual Living.  They have a code of practice that is aligned with the fact they are licensed.  While every practitioner is different and achieves their own highest level of consciousness, the code of practice ensures a minimum level of practice that minimizes the ego’s involvement in sessions.  It means that a community of people with common goals and values ensures that standard is maintained. I have had many sessions with people who are friends, and sessions with practitioners I do not know.  In all cases, the personality was not involved.  There was a consistent clarity in the consciousness that was held in the space we created.  That is a model to me that I think can be expanded into other holistic practices.

Without such a standard, I fear we enter into what I call the Well Intentioned Ego – the healer who has embraced the ideas and teachings of a practice and whose work is limited to the work they themselves have completed.  I understand that like attracts like, and that a healer will attract clients where there is a purpose in their interaction. It is not up to me to determine if this interaction elevates them in some way.  The nature of the divine is such that all is right and perfect.  It is more about uncovering false beliefs that inspired me to write this.  If we do not have an agreed to set of ethical practices, then it makes it hard to have an open conversation that will allow false beliefs to be named, claimed, and moved aside.  This is not any different than the issues psychologists’ face, which is where it is clear that the Well Intentioned Ego can also be at work.  I believe we could rely heavily on these standards (and that of the CSLs) for designing a comprehensive code that encourages responsible practice and dialogue.

Psychological ethics fall into four categories: The dignity of the person, Responsible caring, Integrity in relationship, and Responsibility to Society.  The code articulates shadowselfactivities that can and cannot be acceptable, and provides guidance on how to determine what is ethical in a situation.

Dignity of the person is about “the belief that each person should be treated primarily as a person or an end in him/herself, not as an object or a means to an end.” At its simplest, this means that the practitioner does not allow the loss of income to compromise the integrity of the work.  At its most complex, it means a constant inner dialogue about the biases a practitioner holds and how those are showing up in the relationship dynamic.  It means a very close examination and understanding of power.

Responsible caring means ” to take care to discern the potential harm and benefits involved, to predict the likelihood of their occurrence, to proceed only if the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms, to develop and use methods that will minimize harms and maximize benefits, and to take responsibility for correcting clearly harmful effects that have occurred as a direct result of their research, teaching, practice, or business activities.” As holistic practitioners, we know our energy influences another’s.  Often we take on the role of Expert, and forget we are co-creating in consciousness with another being.  We need to empower the true wholeness of the person with whom we are working, and make sure that at every point in our work we are giving that person a choice to say yes or no.  We need to be careful not to assume that we know what needs to be done.

Integrity in relationship says “Psychologists are not expected to be value-free or totally without self-interest in conducting their activities. However, they are expected to understand how their backgrounds, personal needs, and values interact with their activities, to be open and honest about the influence of such factors, and to be as objective and unbiased as possible under the circumstances.”  A key part of this is informed consent.  Holistic practitioners are bringing their consciousness, energy, and beliefs into the field of another, and these will have an impact.  How often do we tell a client about our false beliefs? How much time do we spend letting a client know what our own fears are? Or do we adopt the medical model of The Expert?

harm noneResponsibility to Society says “Psychology functions as a discipline within the context of human society. Psychologists, both in their work and as private citizens, have responsibilities to the societies in which they live and work, such as the neighbourhood or city, and to the welfare of all human beings in those societies.” As holistic practitioners, often we shroud our practice in secrecy.  We assume at times that only a gifted few have ability, and that we need to protect that specialness in some way.  What I admire about the CSL practice is that it starts with the assumption that we are all powerful creators in consciousness. There is a new movement to develop conscious community; we see it in permaculture activities, and in the emergence of holistic activities being more “normalized”.  There is a yoga studio on every corner.  People are creating consciousness festivals and conscious businesses.  These are beautiful things – and we will need to learn about the human dynamic as these movements grow.  I admire events like Burning Man that devote energy to articulating the responsibilities and values that are part of their vision.  We need more of this.  It is not about control; this is about elevation of consciousness by being specific and aware.

I have decided to draft my own code, and incorporate that into my practice.  I will be building the Practical Priestess into a larger global practice in the next few months, and this standard will be one of the first things you see on my website.  I welcome your thoughts and feelings about what I have said, including ideas on how you have incorporated ethics into your own practice.

Unlimited Possibility

possible“What is your vision for yourself? What do you think your purpose is?” asked my business partner.  What I love about this man is that he elicits potential from me that is my inner secret…he makes my audacious dreams seem realistic and practical.  This time I was excited and scared at the same time.

I envisioned building something bigger than my consulting practice.  He visioned possibilities for me too that went beyond the plan I had for our meeting.  He was pushing my comfort zone, and doing it on a day that I was in an uncomfortable state, not my best co-creation space. In a burst of insight, I realized this connected to my question about what I deserve.  As he critiqued my website, I suddenly saw that he understood how to give form to some of my dreams.  Dreams I feared to express because they were not safe or manageable.

“You are right,” I said to him, “my success isn’t in the tools I use or the theory behind my work.  Yeah, I have done a lot in business and I can unlock organizational potential.  But my real talent comes in how I show up, in how I do things.  The love I bring, and holding consciousness for the person or organization until they are ready to do it themselves.  Until they see it and believe it. ” But none of my marketing tools say that, and my business development is very traditional.  I went to bed with these things on my mind.  Was I ready to take a big gulp in and revamp the whole thing? I knew the answer was yes.

Today, I joined a conference call with Alaya Gold.  Alaya is a Business Shaman who combines her Psychic abilities with her Business School training to help Spiritual Entrepreneurs create Purposeful and Profitable businesses that support their Divine lifestyle and Soul expression in the world.  With my metaphysical bent, you would laugh to know I was skeptical of her.  I was sitting in on the call for research purposes, since my tantra teacher and I had discussed blending divine feminine principles with business – a lot like what Alaya does.  But, if I am honest, a lot of my business success is due to my intuition and my own psychic skills so who was I to hold back exploring this?

I liked the ideas she shared, and found myself respecting her blending of masculine and feminine ideas and energies.  At the end, she asked (begged?) people to open with questions for her to coach.  Having been in the situation she was in a hundred times, I volunteered my question about business and about personal purpose.

“What I hear from you,” she said, “is that your have done the work transforming yourself and others and it is time for a much bigger vision for you.  You have to go beyond transforming individuals and take on a bigger purpose of leading people to awareness of their truth.  It is time for you to teach tools for living authentically, write books, and deliver seminar.  You are here to teach a deeper truth and purpose to people.”

Inwardly I laughed and clenched.  I just signed up for my trip to John of God. I am not going for any traditional healing.  I am going to learn about love, and about my purposelimit and about how to live in a state of joy, grace and love.  I am going to strip away the last of my false beliefs and open into my highest self.  To serve my purpose.  And to feel love.  I want to feel love.

I clenched.  Who am I to do this work? This is too big.  I fear I will get lost in it.  That I will not experience the relationships I want, or have the fulfillment in my heart that I desire.  As much as I want to say yes, I also want to say no.  So, now I at least know what one of my blockages to unlimited possibility is.

 

You Deserve More

deserve“I know how I deserve to be treated,” said Violet, a new vampire on True Blood (keep laughing – everyone has a guilty pleasure!). I don’t usually look to vampires for truth but the universe will speak what we need to hear through any voice. In the moment Violet said that, I felt the hollowness that comes when I see a blind spot of my own.

Earlier that day, when I was talking through some relationship healing, my soul friend looked me in the eyes and said, “You deserve more.” Instead of a sense of love or peace, I felt panic at that idea. I don’t know what more I deserve. I’ve been told before that my vision for me is too small. That I don’t see my truth and my value. So when that message shows up three different ways, I start to pay attention.

In truth, I have been unhappy in relationship for the last 5 years. I know this to be a result of my consciousness, not the people involved.  The relationships ended because growth was occurring and the relationship no longer fit.  If I want any demonstration of my consciousness shift, it is present in the deep healing and spiritual partnership that has evolved with deserve moremy child’s father. It is a deeply loving and spiritually grounded relationship.  It is not a couple relationship but that doesn’t diminish it.  That has become a tool for spiritual growth.

“Consider the one thing that is required for any relationship to flourish:  knowing who we really are. While there is a natural tendency to find an identity in our roles in life, our personality, our work, our body, our culture, our stories of the past, and our dreams for the future, in reality, these are all temporary, external aspects of ourselves. Who we really are is eternal and unbounded. Our true self is pure love and pure spirit. While our ego-mind may feel isolated and separate, our essential nature is whole and inextricably connected to the universe. Therefore, our journey towards miraculous relationships isn’t about searching for anything outside of ourselves. It’s about discovering the love that is already within us, and expressing it in all of our relationships.” -Deepak Chopra

This weekend, imageanother soul on a journey expresed his concern about what he saw as vagueness in my vision for relationship.  I answered with excitement that it was because I was still in process and that my old preconceptions didn’t apply.  So my vision is more directional. He was concerned about how false beliefs could move into the vagueness.  I think the vagueness is my lack of recognition of my magnificence.  There is a part of me that is scared to aim too high.  But I know Like attracts Like, and so I will let that universal law manifest without limitation.

I admit I’m confused. And I’m ok with that.  I am in grief and that takes time to heal.  I’ve confused respite from grief with the potential for a relationship.  I deserve more.

I’m not concerned with having a vision for relationship. The universe knows I want one and it will be a manifestation of my consciousness. I’m focused on knowing who I am, being in my Unlimited Potential, and watching how the world changes as I bring a higher vibration into it. I am exploring a path to living from my own immutable source. When I live from this place, I realize that happiness is my essential nature and mine to claim at any moment.

Because I deserve more.

Freedom, Ethics and Vaccinations

vaccinesRam Dass says “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.” I have found that if I think I have mastered replacing fear with love, try talking to people about why you question vaccination.

There is no doubt that vaccination is a key part of modern public health efforts.  Vaccines have saved countless lives from dreaded diseases like polio, smallpox, measles and various others.  But vaccines have moved from the arena of saving lives, to the area of making us feel better about our vulnerability to disease.  Vaccines are offered and accepted without question, because of their history of saving lives.  We have stopped asking questions, and possibly that is a dangerous state.

“A rigorous new analysis of 44 years’ worth of studies is raising questions about the evidence for the effectiveness of influenza vaccines in elderly people and, for certain types of vaccines, in children and younger adults as well.  Applying very strict criteria to filter out potential bias and confounding, a US research team sifted more than 5,000 studies and found only 31 that they felt provided reliable evidence about the efficacy and effectiveness of flu vaccines. The findings were published online …by Lancet Infectious Diseases.” – Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy  Flu vaccines are offered and accepted almost religiously every year, yet the research supporting their usefulness is limited.

While the public accepts vaccines as well tested and flawless, the truth is quite different.  Physicians will tell you that the science does not always live up to the PR campaign.choice

“A huge publicity & PR campaign (not counterbalanced by independent experts, scholars and the medical profession) has obscured the fact that millions of healthy teenage girls are being vaccinated under a promise: that vaccination programs will prevent cervical cancer—just a reasonable hypothesis, untested, which could easily be refuted. It is a huge mistake to vaccinate healthy persons under a promise. As a physician, I believe systematic, universal vaccination programs have a crucial role in our societies. And, hence, I deplore that the credibility of such programs is jeopardized by unbalanced commercial influences.” Cancer epidemiologist and physician Miquel Porta, in email interview

Because of this perception of vaccines as flawless (and when we are only a few generations away from a time when polio was a significant threat that has been eliminated by vaccinations), we now accept vaccines as risk free and essential.

“Vaccines, like all other pharmaceutical products, are not entirely risk-free; while most known side effects are minor and self-limited, some vaccines have been associated with very rare but serious adverse effects. Because such rare effects are often not evident until vaccines come into widespread use, the Federal government maintains ongoing surveillance programs to monitor vaccine safety. The interpretation of data from such programs is complex and is associated with substantial uncertainty.” – Public Health Reports

We believe that vaccines are fully tested and understood, but in fact, the real impact of vaccines is not known until the vaccine has been used.

“Japanese government has withdrawn administration of vaccines against Human Papillomavirus ( HPV) in Kitui as the World Health Organisation ( WHO) faces stinging criticism. Japan has cited adverse effects including infertility, long-term pain, numbness and paralysis” –Standard Media

Dr Christian Northrup says this:

The HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix do not prevent cervical cancer or any other type of cancer. They may protect you from contracting some strains of HPV for a period of time. Gardasil is genetically engineered to target the four most common strains of HPV known to be associated with cervical cancer, although there are 14 strains that are also implicated. (There are actually over 100 known HPV strains.)  About 98 percent of HPV infections will resolve on their own within two years. (This is the reason why the American College of OB/GYN changed their pap smear recommendations to begin at age 20 instead of when a girl first became sexually active.) I agree with Diane Harper, M.D., who put it this way, “This is a sobering reality. Would a parent accept such a rate of serious adverse events if the same cancer prevention can occur with continued pap screening? Is there any acceptable level of risk of serious adverse events, including death, to prevent genital warts?”3 Women and girls deserve better. So, forego the vaccine!”

healthI personally have chosen to stay away from vaccines, and receive significant lash back on this choice.  I have spent time reviewing scholarly articles on vaccination efficacy, effectiveness, and risk.  I have concluded that while the research supports the public health position on promoting vaccines, the degree to which I am willing to freely hand over my will and reason about if a vaccine is right for me is quite limited.  There is international research that challenges our assumptions about the risks about vaccines. Other countries have looked closely at public health policy and make different choices than we do in North America.  There is too little questioning of what we know about vaccines; too much willingness to hand over trust to pharmaceutical companies who may produce a product that is “good enough”.  For years, we have been told to get our flu vaccine, yet the research does not support it.  Even in the existing research, there is question about if vaccinated populations were healthy because they were not exposed to the infectious strain, or if the vaccine prevented illness.  At what point do we do the deep ethical dive into the balance between population health and individual freedoms?

What makes this heated is the fact that population health is impacted by people who say No.  In other words, my choice to not get vaccinated raises the fear level around others who believe in vaccines as it reduces the effectiveness of eliminating the illness outbreaks.  I have always been confused about this as I believe that effective vaccinations should not be driven by herd mentality – if you are inoculated, you should not be at risk if I am not.  Yet vaccination is more effective the higher the level of participation.  So, we automatically end up at odds.

Ultimately, I find myself calling for my public health system to step it up: don’t just try to convince me that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Do an ethical dive into the entire paradigm – why is any  level of death acceptable in relation to vaccination? Why do we not understand the factors that contribute to individual risk? How am I supposed to make a balanced choice when you tell me that the risks are low…but it is unclear what increases the risk at all? There is no other medical procedure I have encountered where the information is as vague.  I am perfectly happy to support community wellbeing but to do so I need to fully understand what I am risking in doing so.

I know this is a hot issue, and I fully expect that you will have strong views, that are equally justified, well researched, and full of truth.  It is my hope that the dialogue will result in a more accountable immunization system where the influence of pharmaceutical companies is minimized.