Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Calm Place

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Your eyes have arrived here from many possible places they might have landed. It is a good thing to attend to calm, centered, and focused experience in the midst of the welter of stressful activities culture transmits to us on a daily basis.
In the forty-thousand years since humans initiated the transformation of nature into culture – as marked by the creation of the total-sensory-surround environment of the painted caves – we have brought about both astonishingly positive and negative outcomes. We have provided well enough for the material survival of a large number of members of our species, while we have done very little to alleviate our experience of psychological stress. In the continual quest to satisfy physical needs and desires we have added to our levels of stress at an ever-increasing rate.

The evidence from medical science is clear. The major portion of the illness we bear is negatively impacted by stress, stress-related, or directly the result of stress visited upon our minds and bodies. The dysfunctional aspects of living with incremental increases in stress levels are everywhere apparent. Simply establishing a place and time for stress-free experience is ever-more crucial to our well being as individuals and as a species. Without a calm and focused awareness at the core of our being, we spin uncontrollably toward predictable dysfunction and demise.

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In this moment, in this space, there is just this gentle field of photons entering your eyes and mind in the form of words on an electronic page. You need only to be aware now of simple things – feeling the easy rhythm of your breathing and the pleasure of a moment of pure relaxation. This is the calm and centered place from which all inner peace and strength arise. In this state of mind, you are filled with clarity. From here you move forward with elegance, grace, confidence, and power. As you move away from these words on this page and go about the rest of your day, keep this feeling within you. These words will always be here to come back to and remind you of this state of mind. And now, you can bring this calm and focused awareness with you and begin to make your life and the world a better place for us all.
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Image: “A Calm Place” painting by Tullio DeSantis, 2010 (detail).
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This is Outer Space! The historic meteor strike of January 18, 2010.

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Monday evening, January 18, at 5:38 p.m., I was travelling with Susan Duby, due SW on a trip that would take us to a Philadelphia-area meeting.

A splendid evening twilight surrounded us as we made our way. Most of the sky dome appeared like ombré fabric toned in deep blues, while a wide swath of bright sunset pink draped the barren Appalachian foothills of mid-winter.

We were on the road for only a few minutes when a brilliant neon-red streak zipped through the sky from about 45 degrees above the horizon. Speeding downward just left of the 6 o’clock position, it burned brighter than the most brilliant of fireworks. As it approached the pink-hued zone about 25 degrees above the horizon, the apparition expanded outward into a tear-drop-shaped fireball of searing greenish white. After three or four seconds of tight flaming, it disappeared, perhaps 10 degrees above the horizon.

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It turns out that the fireball was a meteor witnessed by hundreds of people along the East Coast. Even more spectacular, it landed and was recovered. Stranger yet, before it ended its cosmic journey through the vastness of our universe, it broke through the office roof of Dr. Frank Ciampi, a general practice physician, in Lorton, Va. and landed in three pieces on the floor. The doctor was in the building at the time!

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Well documented by the Baltimore Sun, Fox News, and Space.com this rare event has entered the annals of unusual astronomical events and the specimen has been photographed by the American Museum of Natural History.

As for it’s cosmic origin,

“It went through the roof…through one wall partition and then passed through a particle board ceiling into the floor of an examination room,” said Linda Welzenbach, manager of the meteorite collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This confirms the object was indeed a meteorite from outer space.

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Of course, now that the great meteor of January 2010 has landed on Earth, it is still in space. Just because we don’t typically include…

Earth
Solar System
Milky Way
Universe

…on our mailing labels, doesn’t mean they are not true parts of our home address.

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The fireball sighting reminded me it is crucial to having a clear sense of ourselves and our actual environment, that we take the time to look up and notice – as there is no ceiling above our heads – we are now, always were, and will always be…in outer space!

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First Image: Tullio DeSantis, 2010. Digital Reconstruction of meteor observed by Tullio DeSantis and Susan Duby on January 18, 2010.
Second Image: Linda Welzenbach/Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 2010. Image of meteor that fell from the sky into a doctor’s office in Virgina Jan. 18, 2010.
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Check back for updates to this story:
Google News Updates Page on the meteor of January 18, 2010
Meteor event as reported in The Washington Post
Update from Frank Roylance’s blog at the Baltimore Sun
Original Baltimore Sun Maryland Weather blog story with over 100 reported sightings
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I Feel What You Feel: Compassion and the meaning of life

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi
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It is ever more clear that our future as a species will not depend on our ability to process data or material at an increasingly rapid rate so much as it will depend on developing our ability to feel compassion for ourselves and for the entire living world. The exclusively materialist views of our existence, intelligence, technology, and conceptions of the universe maintain – and even worsen – a situation in which the vast majority of living beings continue to suffer while a tiny minority prospers.

As the evidence of millennia of human history demonstrates, it may well turn out that it is not our massive forebrain that will save us or give our lives meaning. For without strong feelings of connectedness binding us one to another and to the entire ecosystem which sustains us, we remain forever bound to the dysfunctional pursuit of individual prosperity at the expense of the suffering of others and the destruction of our fragile environment.

It is most fortuitous that recent discoveries in neuroscience are uncovering aspects of the human being which underscore the evolutionary significance of our capacity to experience bonds of empathy. Initially found in macaque monkeys and subsequently confirmed in the human brain, a grouping of cells in the premotor cortex known as “mirror neurons” respond when actions are both taken and perceived. And they can also be observed to fire in corresponding ways during the feeling and perception of emotion.

 

 

This living connection between individuals is the neurological bridge upon which interpersonal – and even inter-species – bonds essential to socialization, understanding, and empathy are formed. Because our actions have instantaneous effects that can be felt around the world at the speed of electronic communication, now more than ever in our evolutionary history, developing empathy and compassion for other human beings and for the whole of life is necessary to our continued survival.

 

 

To that end, it is fitting to remind ourselves that as we are attending to the material and physical details of living our daily lives we can accomplish our highest goals and fulfill our destinies by the simple method of listening to ourselves and each other closely enough to hear our heartbeats – by remembering, practicing, and envisioning what it means to be fully human.

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You Tube Videos: “mirror neurons: part 1and 2,” posted by Conualfy

 

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Consciousness and Everything Else

Several underlying themes evolve through ARTology entries. They inform my art and writing, as they are the themes that nourish my life. First of all, I am interested in the nature of consciousness. This has always seemed the place to start. Information and awareness of the actual instrument used to assess one’s situation has always fascinated and inspired me and does appear to increase success in navigating those situations in more tenable ways.

Even though the experience of consciousness is straightforward, coming to a thorough comprehension and exposition of the nature of consciousness seems to depend most of all on the particular discipline one brings to the subject. Human history is replete with existential, spiritual, philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic approaches to the subject of consciousness. Developed over millennia, many of these views have become ossified into systems of belief. And as such, they lose their interconnectedness. They become mutually exclusive – incompatible one with another – especially as they generate various explanations of the world and our experience.

Explanations of the world or statements concerning the nature of reality are often considered as the primary truths of human experience and the universe at large. As such, they deal with the subject of consciousness as a secondary subject or phenomenon. This is true of the rationalist and scientific tradition as it has developed in the West. This approach has become known as “material realism” and, as such, it treats consciousness as a sort of epiphenomenon – a byproduct of material processes and not an essential property of the universe.

We are fortunate, however, to live in a time in which the frontiers of scientific research are indicating a far more central position for consciousness than has been permitted in the past. The postulates of quantum physics are crucial to this new paradigm:

- A quantum object (for example, an electron) can be at more than one place at the same time (the wave property).

- A quantum object cannot be said to manifest in ordinary space-time reality until we observe it as a particle (collapse of the wave).

- A quantum object ceases to exist here and simultaneously appears in existence over there; we cannot say it went through the intervening space (the quantum jump).

- A manifestation of one quantum object, caused by our observation, simultaneously influences its correlated twin object – no matter how far apart they are (quantum action-at-a-distance).

The list above appears in “The Self-Aware Universe,” by Amit Goswami, Ph.D., Professor of Physics at the Institute of Theoretical Sciences at the University of Oregon.

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It is becoming increasingly clear that in our incessant pursuit to control our circumstances, manage our environment, provide for our physical needs, vanquish our threats, conquer our enemies, and construct our civilizations, we are in danger of losing sight of the fact that there is more to us, our world, and our universe than spinning aggregates of matter, energy, and empty space.

There is a mind here. And it is at the very center of each and every one of us. It is at the center of our experience and, as such, it is at the center of the universe. There is much still to learn – especially about the relationship between consciousness and everything else.

Now, at last, we know where to begin.

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You Tube Video: “Consciousness Drives The Universe,” posted by knowthelies

 

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