TheGroundOfFaithThe Ground of Faith
Exploring Science, Mysticism and Experience Together

September 2007

**You can kiss your career Goodbye**

Editors: The Rev. Michael Cocks and The Rev. Victor MacGill

Fear, the enemy of Research
Tossing out the meteorites

Articles

Initial Mystery in Science and Theology
About this journal, we could ask Are we veering into the Occult?
Nate Cull answers blog commenter “Cautious” in this way:
From a Few Genes, Life’s Myriad Shapes
Video: multiple videos on science and religion
Russell Targ: The End of Suffering

ARTICLES and COMMENTS from READERS
More highlights from NETWORK REVIEW of the Sc. and Medical Network
Book Review: Multiple reviews of landmark book:IRREDUCIBLE MIND
1. Special Announcement from Michael Murphy, Esalen Chairman, and Gordon Wheeler, Esalen President
Meaning-Full Disease : How Personal Experience and Meanings Cause and Maintain Physical Illness: Brian Broom
Experience
The harp that came back

New email address: editor@thegroundoffaith.net

  Fear, the enemy of Research

In good King Charles's golden days, When Loyalty no harm meant; A Furious High-Church man I was, And so I gain'd Preferment. Unto my Flock I daily Preach'd, Kings are by God appointed, And Damn'd are those who dare resist, Or touch the Lord's Anointed. And this is law, I will maintain Unto my Dying Day, Sir. That whatsoever King may reign, I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!”   

Is this a comic song? Or is it a bitter song about the politics of Fear? I raise the question as I think wryly about what the journal is trying to do. We quote endless knock-you-down-with-a-feather accounts of experiences of the paranormal, accounts of persuasive scientific research confirming the paranormal and the inadequacy of the materialist philosophy, but do we persuade the Vicars of Bray?  

Could it be, I am wondering, that underlying insuperable differences of belief, is FEAR? The vicar of Bray, was afraid of losing his job, of starvation perhaps, at least of losing respect of those in power who give him his job, who approve of his supposed right-thinking; he was afraid of his congregations that they would reject him, he was afraid of losing love and support from friends who are believing and thinking the right things. Could it be that presenting the right face on things, is something that most of us feel we have to do, at any time, and in any age, just to protect ourselves from what is very much to be feared? That of course is a purely rhetorical question.

Consider this quote, “In 1854 the Oxford University Bill eliminated the university requirement that undergraduates subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles” (of Religion, of the Church of England.) Consider the recent case of a New Zealand doctor writing a post-graduate thesis on telesomatic phenomena between twins. I believe the care and rigour of his work is unimpeachable, and that he clearly demonstrates the fact that there is indeed telepathy between twins. But he quotes a professor as saying to him, “You can kiss your career Goodbye”, writing such a thesis.

Why would a professor wish to limit scientific research in this way? Are we not all agreed that scientific method is a wonderful way to establish matters of fact, a way out of superstition to facing up to reality? We are indeed agreed about this, except for a new “39 articles” agreed to by most English speaking universities, which gives freedom of research to those who agree to operating from a materialist philosophy, and to those who believe that consciousness is nothing but electrochemical processes in the brain. Accept materialism and that consciousness is electrochemical processes, and you will have status, friends, recognition and a position in the university. Accept these two articles and you are less likely to starve.

Society of course is not monolithic. We do live in a pluralistic society. There have indeed been influential movements outside the universities studying mind and consciousness from non-materialistic points of view. There are also very conservative forms of religion who will cast you out for not being their kind of Vicar of Bray, even more readily than Academia.

All of us humans are subject to the fear of loss of love and respect, loss of livelihood, fear of death. In terms of culture and belief, we gravitate to those who offer us security, in this world, and in the case of some, in the next. Conforming to the reigning academic paradigm, or to the teachings of one's community of faith, gives us security, love and respect, and saves us from fear.

I see these as kinds of fear that all of us share. The challenge for each of us, is to try and be fearless when we look for truth, and to work out strategies for being honest with ourselves, without our world crashing in on us from all sides.

  Post a comment

To explore these ideas further, here is a long and stimulating document from the New York Times, The Politics of God, by Mark Lilla who is professor of the humanities at Columbia University. This essay is adapted from his book “The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West,” which will be published in September, 2007. 

 It helps us a lot if we get feedback from our readers. At the end of each section we give you the opportunity to POST A COMMENT. If you don't have a Google account, then write to editor@thegroundoffaith.net

  Tossing out the meteorites

[Quotation from Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer: Extraordinary Knowing, Science Skepticism, and the inexplicable powers of the human mind. March 2007. We highly recommend the whole book]

According to philosopher of science Michael Polanyi, “It is the normal practice of scientists to ignore evidence which appears incompatible or irrelevant.. But there is, unfortunately, no rule by which to avoid the risk of occasionally disregarding thereby true evidence which conflicts, (or seems to conflict) with current teachings of science. During the eighteenth century the French Academy of Science stubbornly denied the evidence for the fall of meterorites, which seemed massively obvious to everybody else.”

Such was the awe in which Parisian scientists were held by their foreign associates that curators of public museums in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy and Austria, “anxious not be considered backward compared with their famous colleagues in Paris... threw away whatever they possessed of these precious meteorites.” The museum curators were quick to defend their actions; any lurking notion that meterorites might descend from the sky smacked dangerously of popular superstition about heavenly intervention. That was precisely the kind of superstition that progressive science was working hard to defy. The scientists and museum curators asserted that getting rid of the meteorites was actually in the service of science. [p.103] Post a comment

Articles

  Initial Mystery in Science and Theology

Sjoerd BontingSjoerd L. Bonting

It seems clear to me that we face initial mystery, both in science and theology, when confronting the origin of the cosmos as well as that of life. This does not mean that we should halt our scientific and theological endeavours, but that we must not expect to obtain in this world a 'Theory of Everything' or an explanation of the final mysteries of life. Physicists are beginning to admit this, but biologists engaged in the rapidly advancing fields of molecular biology and molecular genetics are not yet ready to acknowledge this.” Read the whole article

  About this journal, we could ask Are we veering into the Occult?

Nate CullNate Cull answers blog commenter “Cautious” in this way:

    “Dear Nathanael, don’t you think you are veering from the cultlane [the name of his Blog] into the occultlane? Psalm 131!!! How about the callane: Psalm 55:16 and James 1:5”

    Nate Says:
    Dear Cautious: In short, no, I don’t. But thanks for asking, because it’s a question that needs to be asked and I understand where you’re coming from. There’s a reason why I named my blog what I did, other than it being an anagram.

    ‘The occult’ means simply ‘things that are hidden’. The sense of ‘hiddenness’ is very real and very strong when it comes to spiritual and paranormal phenomena, and there are two types of of this hiddenness. One is good, one not so good. I’m interested in the first kind.

    Some things are hidden not because anyone goes out of their way to hide them, but simply because by their very nature they tend to be sneered at, despised, and ignored, because they don’t fit into the existing mental pattern of the world. In our current scientific age, the paranormal tends to fall into this category, because it’s not strictly reproducible under controlled laboratory conditions. However, it’s also confusing because this deep shunning by Western ‘official’ science of the paranormal is *also* hidden, in many ways, due to Western pop culture’s enthusiastic *embracing* of the same ’spooky’ stuff in the 20th century. We’re a sort of split personality culture over this stuff. We deny a wider spiritual world exists while in our every fantasy desperately wishing that it’s there. This state of affairs can’t continue forever. We need to sort out once and for all whether spirituality is real, or not. If it’s real, let’s quite pretending and start investigating.

    So there is a large category of things which some people may consider ‘hidden’ which I think are actually open secrets - widely available, but often ignored or difficult to parse the true meaning of because until you’ve encountered some kind of spiritual reality, the words the mystics and contemplatives use seem to be deliberately obscure and contradictory. They’re not, but they’re trying to write coherently about things that we don’t yet have words for.

    The Gospel is one of these, I think. The field of Christian mysticism particularly interests me because there has been so much written about it over two millennia, from the Church Fathers on, and it’s all now widely available on the Internet - and yet, so far, we in the early 21st century West know very little about this heritage. There are also resonances between the core elements of Jesus’ life and message and the teachings of many other religious and spiritual groups. We need to be honest and open about how and where these connect. We don’t need to be afraid of this. If what Jesus taught was true, then truth is confirmed as truth wherever it appears.

    Other things, however, are hidden because by their intrinsic nature they are violent, exploitative, and debasing. Those who seek these kinds of secrets tend to hide them because they want to achieve power for themselves and deny that power to others, and because they themselves are not fundamentally comfortable with the nature of what they’re dealing with. That kind of power is dangerous and corrosive and should be avoided.

    One of the surprising things I learned early in life, from my involvement in a Christian cult, is that both these kinds of spiritual power, the light and the darkness, can be present in the same group and sometimes even in the same person.

    Pentecostal churches particularly suffer from this, but you see it in many organisations. It can cause immense emotional distress to people who don’t understand that genuine miracles and spiritual experiences and deeply abusive, wounding, manipulative behaviour can coexist and one does not invalidate the other. Eventually the true miracles will go away if the abuse is not fixed. But in the meantime, the situation can be complicated, and neither the Bible, the name of Jesus nor rituals and hierarchy can shield people from the dark side if they don’t have some basic personal spiritual survival skills. I’m not saying the Bible can’t help - but you can draw a number of contradictory lessons from it, and ultimately you have to make a choice as to whether you believe in a God of love or a God of punishment, and that choice does not come from a text but from within one’s heart. And it can be a deeply wrenching decision to make.

    The other surprising discovery I made was that many of the key Western ‘occult’ traditions seem to have originated from Judaism and contemplative and mystical Christianity. Jakob Boehme and Emmanuel Swedenborg, for instance, have been hugely influential in shaping the so-called ‘occult’ but were deeply devoted Christians. More recently, discovering A Course In Miracles was life-changing for me, as I recognised a voice in it that I have long associated with that of Jesus, and to me it resonates with the teaching of the Gospels and suddenly makes Paul intelligible.

    On the other side of the equation, there are closer links than many Christians would find comfortable: Alistair Crowley (of whom I’m not a fan) had an Exclusive Brethren upbringing, while Tim LaHaye of Left Behind has financial links to Reverend Moon. It’s a strange old world, and the ordinary categories of ’safe religion vs dangerous occultism’ don’t always apply.

    To me, the key factor in deciding whether a spiritual teaching is worth investigating is: does it teach love? Does it teach forgiveness? Does it teach freedom? Does it allow you to use your mind? Does it teach compassion for the poor and for nature? If it hits those points, then to me it seems like it’s approaching the right track, because there is One God, and therefore Truth is not contradictory, no matter where we might find it.

    To follow the response chain in Nate's original blog, click here

    Nate also reviews “Irreducible Mind” here Post a comment


 From a Few Genes, Life’s Myriad Shapes

By CAROL KAESUK YOON

Published in the New York Times: June 26, 2007

Since its humble beginnings as a single cell, life has evolved into a spectacular array of shapes and sizes, from tiny fleas to towering Tyrannosaurus rex, from slow-soaring vultures to fast-swimming swordfish, and from modest ferns to alluring orchids. But just how such diversity of form could arise out of evolution’s mess of random genetic mutations — how a functional wing could sprout where none had grown before, or how flowers could blossom in what had been a flowerless world — has remained one of the most fascinating and intractable questions in evolutionary biology.

********

Both science and theology encounter problems when trying to approach the initial moment of the creation of the universe (or its "origin" as the scientist might say). The same is true for the origin of life. In this brief essay, which I dedicate to the memory of Arthur Peacocke, pioneer of the science-theology dialogue who died on 21 October 2006, I shall consider "initial mystery" in the two disciplines.

dnaScience on the cosmic origin

Current cosmological theory can provide a rather detailed account of cosmic evolution from the present back to t=10-43 sec, the so-called Planck time, but there it stops. Further extrapolation leads to a 'singular point' at t = 0 with infinite density and temperature and zero dimension. It was thought that incorporation of gravity into quantum theory would lead to a 'Theory of Everything', which will allow us to "know the mind of God" as phrased by Stephen Hawking.1


[The body of the article]

Last year, Dr. Shubin and colleagues reported the discovery of a fossil fish on Ellesmere Island in northern Canada. They had found Tiktaalik, as they named the fish, after searching for six years. They persisted for so long because they were certain that they had found the right age and kind of rock where a fossil of a fish trying to make the transition to life on land was likely to be found. And Tiktaalik appeared to be just such a fish, but it also had a few surprises for the researchers.

“Tiktaalik is special,” Dr. Shubin said. “It has a flat head with eyes on top. It has gills and lungs. It’s an animal that’s exploring the interface between water and land.”

But Tiktaalik was a truly stunning discovery because this water-loving fish bore wrists, an attribute thought to have been an innovation confined strictly to animals that had already made the transition to land.

“This was telling us that a piece of the toolkit, to make arms, legs, hand and feet, could very well be present in fish limbs,” Dr. Shubin said. In other words, the genetic tools or toolkit genes for making limbs to walk on land might well have been present long before fish made that critical leap. But as fascinating as Tiktaalik was, it was also rock hard and provided no DNA that might shed light on the presence or absence of any particular gene.

So Dr. Shubin did what more and more evo-devo researchers are learning to do: take off one hat (paleontologist) and don another (molecular biologist). Dr. Shubin oversees one of what he says is a small but growing number of laboratories where old-fashioned rock-pounding takes place alongside high-tech molecular DNA studies.

He and colleagues began a study of the living but ancient fish known as the paddlefish. What they found, reported last month in the journal Nature, was that these thoroughly fishy fish were turning on control genes known as Hox genes, in a manner characteristic of the four-limbed, land-loving beasts known as tetrapods.

Tetrapods include cows, people, birds, rodents and so on. In other words, the potential for making fingers, hands and feet, crucial innovations used in emerging from the water to a life of walking and crawling on land, appears to have been present in fish, long before they began flip-flopping their way out of the muck. “The genetic tools to build fingers and toes were in place for a long time,” Dr. Shubin wrote in an e-mail message. “Lacking were the environmental conditions where these structures would be useful.” He added, “Fingers arose when the right environments arose.”

Read the whole of this article <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/science/26devo.html?ex=1340596800&en=a1efbb37728f6181&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink>

Post a comment <https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=9013345093710303342&postID=6830518797320826721>


Video: multiple videos on science and religion

Russell Targ: The End of Suffering

(Running time = 36 mins)

targ

Regina first interviewed Russell Targ almost 21 years ago just before he was leaving for the Soviet Union to take part in an experiment with Brezhnev's psychic healer, in what was to become a well known documentation on the efficacy of remote viewing for military purposes.

Russell Targ is a physicist and author who has devoted much of his professional career to the research of the human capacity for psychic ability. In 1972, he co-founded the Stanford Research Institute's federally-funded program that investigated psychic abilities in humans. The program provided invaluable information and techniques to various government intelligence agencies, including the DIA, the CIA, NASA, and Army Intelligence. In his ten years with the program, Targ co-published his findings in some of the most prestigious scientific journals. He is the co-author, with Jane Katra, of five books about psychic abilities, two of which are: Miracles of Mind: Exploring Non-local Consciousness & Spiritual Healing, and The Heart of the Mind: How to Experience God Without Belief.

TargbookRussell was also quite active in the development of the laser and its various applications, having written over fifty articles on advanced laser research. He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and has received two NASA awards for inventions and contributions in laser and laser communications. Recently retiring from his position as senior staff scientist at Lockheed Martin, Russell now devotes his time to ESP research and offering workshops on remote viewing and spiritual healing.

In an abstract from a research paper, Russell said, "Since ancient times spiritual teachers have described paths and practices that a person could follow to achieve health, happiness, and peace of mind. A considerable body of recent research indicates that any kind of spiritual practice is likely to improve ones prognosis for recovering from a serious illness. Many of these approaches to spirituality involve learning to quiet the mind, rather than adhering to a prescribed religious belief. These meditative practices are inherent aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, mystical Christianity, Kabalistic Judaism, Sufism, and other mystic paths. What is indicated in the subtext of these teachings is that as one learns to quiet his or her mind, one is likely to encounter psychic-like experiences or perceptions. For example, in The Sutras of Patanjali, the Hindu master tells us that on the way to transcendence we may experience many kinds of amazing visions, such as the ability to see into the distance, or into the future; and to diagnose illnesses, and also to cure them. However, we are admonished not to become attached to these abilities - that they are mere phenomena standing as stumbling blocks on the path to enlightenment. In this paper, I will describe my recent experience in teaching remote viewing at three workshops in Italy, in which we emphasize expanded awareness of who we are, rather than an ability to find car keys and parking spaces. Our spiritual approach, did not interfere with all three of these groups demonstrating highly significant remote viewing in a double-blind setting."

To view the 39 minute video, click http://www.consciousmedianetwork.com/members/rtarg.htm

It was clear to me in a realistic way that we could not possibly be physical beings because we can move through space and time, and describe what is in the future accurately. Ingo Swan was asked what would happen at coordinate next Friday.. I see some kind of pyrotechnic display.. they knew that the atomic test would fail, and that there would only be burning uranium.

[Note: After you have seen this film, you are given the opportunity to view short videos on similar themes]

Post a comment

ARTICLES and COMMENTS from READERS

FigueiredoLouis de Figueiredo, São Paolo, Brazil, contributes his article, “Jesus was not buried in Talpiot”, taking issue with a much read book, The Jesus Family Tomb. The Discovery, the Investigation and the Evidence That Could Change History by Jacobovici and the paleobiologist Charles Pellegrino. Read his article < TalpiotFinal.pdf>  Another useful article

Norman Kjome, Minnesota, USA, writes: “I might say that I am not responding to anything in particular, but the journal often brings something to mind, that I would like to share with you. This "blogspot" is a convenient way to leave a note for you - and of course anyone else who might be interested. Maybe I already sent you this link to an interview with David Ray Griffin. "Redefining The Divine" is from 1990, but seems to be still current. <http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC24/Griffin.htm>

I happened across a book on my shelf recently, Where Two Worlds Touch, by Gloria Karpinski. On the cover is written, "learn to embrace change as part of your spiritual homework with this pathfinding guide." I looked on Amazon and found used copies for only a penny, so it seems people may not be quite ready for this. But a reviewer wrote, "Gloria Karpinski's 'Where Two Worlds Touch' is the type of book that can lay in a corner, unnoticed, until the moment it is relevant, and then becomes a-smack-in-the-head revelation." That how it was for me. All of a sudden I found it on my shelf. In the book is a story about a golden fountain of grace. Many people came to the fountain and got just a thimbleful of water. Some went away with a cupful. But a little boy came to the fountain, jumped in and played in the water. That reminded me of the words in the Bible that we are to become as little children. (Matthew 18.3)”

Nate Cull, Christchurch NZ, writes, “Not directly related to anomalous phenomena but linked to philosophical discussions of computational theory of mind: this page on Ward's Wiki. http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?AreWeCode Especially David Barbour's argument about the irrelevance of determinism vs free will for a sufficiently complex (but clearly artificial) robot and how both synthetic emotions and unpredictable behaviour could emerge from purely deterministic goal-seeking. Mentioned because this sort of discussion and thought experiment is very much where I come from and why I both find the critique of the CTM in Irreducible Mind fascinating (and why I find purely philosophical refutations of strong AI like John Searle's rather tedious and irrelevant). I tend toward pragmatism; can one or can one not build an AI that exhibits human-like features such as emotions? And what then will that machine make of psi and spirituality? Because if we can, we will, and by 9am the next day it will be linked to the Internet and have a blog. If we can't - well that will be a very interesting negative result and the next question will be 'why' and then 'how far can we push the old paradigm before it breaks'.”

I have my own rather fuzzy ideas about the limitations of mechanical computation vs inspiration in the operation of intelligence, but it's very interesting to see what happens as the world evolves a sort of shared external mechanical brain via the Internet and especially weblogs, wikis, social networking and knowledge representation techniques like the Semantic Web. If there exist true statements about nonphysical reality such as psi, can they be mechanically represented in any form? We can obviously talk about psi experiences in English and via HTML - why not in some RDF/XML dialect? And then mechanically reason about them? At what point do we get truly 'ineffable', non-representable phenomena?

Read Comments from Richard Cocks  and  The Ground of Faith BLOGSPOT for further reader contributions.

More highlights from NETWORK REVIEW of the Sc. and Medical Network

We highly recommend this scholarly journal: details can be found at http://www.scimednet.org/ I would like to have shared the whole of the Summer 2007 issue with our readers. Take Lawrence LeShan's long article, Psychical research and the myth of a unified field theory. I will have to confine myself to relating just a few of his major points:

About determinism: LeShan writes, “if I stand up in a lecture hall and say, 'All people are determined and have no free will” I am likely to be promoted to head of my department. If I say, 'I am determined and have no free will, I am a robot who moves helplessly according to how I have been conditioned (or the relation between my id, ego and superego)' I will likely be sent to a psychiatrist.” [Acting as if you really believe "no free will", and they'll think you're sick!]

Le Shan continues, “A part of enlightenment view was contained in Descartes' belief that a science was only real and could only make progress if you could quantify the data. A non-quantitative science was fit only for a hobby for rich men. He pointed out that there was no point in studying history because you can not quantify the data and so, if you studied Rome all your life, you still would not know about it as much as “Cicero's servant girl.”

“Taking this to heart, a major school of psychology – the behaviourists – realising that consciousness could not be quantified came up with a solution so weird that it has been remarked that 'behaviourism does not need a rebuttal, it needs a cure.' Their solution was that they would pretend, in talking to each other, and in acting as professional psychologists they would pretend, in talking to each other,  that consciousness did not exist. Running away from its primary (or other) datum is a poor way to try to do science. It is stranger than if astronomers presented that stars did not exist because they did not fit their theories.”

“Psychical Research -Two Kinds of Data” ...After the first half-century or so, psychical research found that it had two separate kinds of data. First there were the large meaningful events which had excited our interest in the field. These were deathbed apparitions, major precognitions, poltergeist activity and so forth.... These ended with the observer knowing that something important and paranormal had happened, something that had real meaning. Jan Ehrenwald has called these events “need-determined”.

Those events cannot be quantified. What can be quantified is card-guessing, with hits and misses being quantified statistically. “Ehrenwald called this type of psi 'flaw-determined'. It seems to result from a small random failure in whatever system keeps us from having more psi events.”

The Fallacy of the Single Paradigm

There has been a great deal of talk in the last fifty years about the idea that western society is about to undergo a major paradigm shift. Behind this lies the belief that there is one paradigm (the 'correct' one) that underlies all of reality. The trouble with this concept is that there is no such thing. We use different paradigms for different segments of reality. We needed a new one for the microcosm, we devised it. We needed a new one for the macrocosm, we devised it. We have a perfectly adequate adequate paradigm for the world revealed to us by our senses. We need a new one for the domain of consciousness, we will devise one... Trying (as we often do,) to interpret the data of one with the laws of another will get you nowhere. Many years ago I was one of the people who started the idea that you could understand psi by using the findings and concepts from quantum mechanics. We were mistaken. If we have the courage we have here the beginning of a real science of the psychic. But it will take courage and the willingness to let ourselves be surprised.”

Book Review

Multiple reviews of landmark book: IRREDUCIBLE MIND

Myers1. Special Announcement from Michael Murphy, Esalen Chairman, and Gordon Wheeler, Esalen President

No activity in Esalen's history, we believe, has more potential importance than the research that produced the book described below. The book's authors, led by Ed and Emily Kelly, professors in the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia, have been members of an Esalen fellowship that has since 1998 explored empirical approaches to the question of post-mortem survival (see Esalenctr.org for a description of their meetings). The world's religious traditions give us contradictory, and often fanciful answers to this perennial question, but our fellowship has worked in the spirit of science to find a solid, empirical basis from which to explore the reality of life after death. Irreducible Mind is a report from the cutting edge of this inquiry. Its authors have donated its royalties to Esalen's Center for Theory and Research.

1.“Special Announcement” PAGE 1

2.Discussion by Kelly of forthcoming book PAGE 1

3.Table of Contents for Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century PAGE 2

4.Five shorter reviews PAGE 3

5.Important long review by Michael Prescott PAGES 4-9

6.Article by Michael Grosso PAGE 10

7. Review by Nate Cull PAGE 11

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Read the whole series of reviews



  BroomMeaning-Full Disease : How Personal Experience and Meanings Cause and Maintain Physical Illness: Brian Broom

From “The Christchurch Press” Wednesday 22 August 2007:

“Christchurch writer Brian Broom has won the $10,000 Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust Book Award. The judges described his book Meaning-Full Disease, as “a timely and professional treatise on holistic healing.”

From the publishers' notice:

Meaning-full diseaseSynopsis

This book is about the nature of meaning, the relationship of meaning to the body, and the way in which meaning expresses itself in our health or lack of it. In another way it is about the conjunction of mind, body, and spirit. In a more practical perspective, the message is that meaning-full disease does make sense, that we do have a sound basis for a holism that includes meaning, and that we had better sort out our models of healthcare if we want to be the sorts of clinicians and healers our patients and clients deserve.

Description

The book is grounded upon Brian Broom’s extensive professional involvement with physical diseases that are a powerful expression of the patients’ emotional themes and life-stories. They are meaning-full diseases. They occur commonly, and are the most compelling argument for an urgent acknowledgment of the role of meanings in the healing process.

Following the pattern of his first book, "Somatic Illness and the Patient’s Other Story", Broom shows in case after case that listening and responding to the “story” of patients suffering from persistent physical diseases frequently leads to major reversal of the disease processes. Read the whole publishers' page <http://www.karnacbooks.com/product.php?PID=25029 >

Read this blog

Read this excerpt from an article in “The Listener”

Post a comment

Experience

  The harp that came back

MayerFrom Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer: Extraordinary Knowing pages 1-3:

In December of 1991, my daughter's harp was stolen; we got it back. But it came back in a way that irrevocably changed my familiar world of science and rational thinking. It changed the way I go about living in that world. It changed the way I perceive the world and try to make sense of it.... my eleven-year-old daughter, Meg, who'd fallen in love with the harp at age six, had begun performing. She wasn't playing a classical pedal harp but a smaller, extremely valuable instrument, built and carved by a master harp maker. After a Christmas concert her harp was stolen from the theater where she was playing. For two months we went through every conceivable channel trying to locate it: the police, instrument dealers across the country, the American Harp Society newsletters – even a CBS TV new story. Nothing worked.

Finally, a wise and devoted friend told me, “If you really want that harp back, you should be willing to try anything. Try calling a dowser.” The only thing I knew about dowsers were that they were that strange breed who locate underground water with forked sticks. But according to my friend, the “really good” dowsers can locate not just water but lost objects as well.

Finding lost objects with forked sticks? Well, nothing was happening on the police front, and my daughter, spoiled by several years of playing an extraordinary instrument, had found the series of commercial harps we'd rented simply unplayable. So, half embarrassed but desperate, I decided to take my friend's dare. I asked her if she could locate a really good dowser – the best, I said. She promptly called the American Society of Dowsers and came back with the phone number of the society's current president, Harold McCoy, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I called him that day. Harold picked up the phone – friendly, cheerful, heavy Arkansas accent. I told him I'd heard he could dowse for lost objects, and that I'd had a valuable harp stolen in Oakland, California. Could he help locate it?

“Give me a second,” he said. “I'll tell you if it's still in Oakland.” He paused, then, “Well, it's still there. Send me a street map of Oakland and I'll locate that harp for you.” Skeptical – but what, after all did I have to lose? - I promptly overnighted him a map. Two days later, he called back. “Well. I got that harp located,” he said. “It's in the second house on the right on D--- Street, just off L---- Avenue.”

I'd never heard of either street. But I did like the sound of the man's voice – whoever he was. And I don't like backing down on a dare. Why not drive to the house that he'd identified? At least I'd get the address. I looked on an Oakland map and found the neighbourhood. It was miles from anywhere I'd ever been. I got into my car, drove into Oakland, located the house, wrote down the number, called the police and told them that I'd gotten a tip that the harp might be in that house. Not good enough for a search warrant, they said. They were going to close the case – there was no way this unique, portable, and highly marketable item hadn't already been sold; it was gone forever.

But I found I couldn't quite let it go. Was it the dare? Was it my admiration for the friend who instigated the whole thing? Was it my devasted daughter? Or was it that I genuinely liked the sound of the voice on the other end of the line?

I decided to post flyers in a two-block area around the house, offering a reward for the harp's return. It was a crazy idea, but why not? I put up flyers in those two blocks, and only those two blocks. I was embarrassed enough about what I was doing to tell just a couple of close friends about it.

Three days later, my phone rang. A man's voice told me he'd seen a flyer outside his house describing a stolen harp. He said it was exactly the harp his next-door neighbour had recently obtained and shown him. He wouldn't give me his name or number, but offered to get the harp returned to me. And two weeks later, after a series of circuitous phone calls, he told me to meet a teenage boy at 10:00 p.m. , in the rear parking lot of an all-night Safeway. I arrived to find a young man loitering in the lot. He looked at me, and said, “The harp?” I nodded. Within minutes, the harp was in the back of my station wagon and I drove off.

Twenty-five minutes later, as I turned into my driveway, I had the thought, This changes everything.

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