Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Evolving Your Brain

I watched the movie What the bleep do we know? last night. Somehow, I missed seeing it when everyone was talking about it, which isn't terribly surprising. Anyway, I continue to be fascinated with the possibilities coming out of the field of quantum physics, even if I don't understand a whole hell of a lot of the technical stuff.

One of the researchers interviewed during the movie, Joe Dispenza, has a book out called Evolve Your Brain. I haven't read it yet, but I have listened to some podcast interviews with Dispenza where he shares some of the ideas set forth in the book, One of the things I am keenly interested in is a point he makes about the need for intention to be functioning together with the emotional memory of the body in order for a shift to occur. Just intention isn't enough. And just "feeling good" isn't enough.

Consider this quote from Dispenza:

Our body reproduces different kinds of cells on a regular basis. Some cells are reproduced in hours, others in a day, others in a week, some within months,
and some cells even take years to reproduce. If high peptide levels of shame and
anger are maintained on a daily basis for years on end, then when each cell
divides to make daughter cells, it will respond to this high demand and alter the
receptors on the cell membrane. This is a natural regulation process that takes
place in all cells

This is the neurochemical expression of what we often call in Buddhist circles "habitual patterns" or klesas.

Now, one of the important things in all of this is that given the elasticity of the body, and especially of the brain, we have the ability to change these patterns. We can break the grooves that keep us trapped in repetition and narrow mindedness. And you're never too old to give it a try.

Meditation, chanting, yoga, and other traditional forms of spiritual practice already were taping into this understanding long before the scientists came to language it. But one thing I think those on the scientific cutting edge are offering to compliment our ancient spiritual traditions is a mapping out of the flexibility we all possess. This mapping out, as well as offering studies and research into shifts in the brain and body, are - in my view - further evidence that enlightenment need not be the province of a tiny few. That more and more of us might be able to tap into our greatest potential, and to awaken to our fullest expression of life.


Hacopian said...

I think it is interesting to think about how quantum physics seems to be our culture's buddhism. It's the West trying to explain the ultimate reality, getting to the edge and realizing there are no words to explain it. They're looking for this Theory of Everything, but as soon as they seem to have it, it recedes. Thus Einstein told Subhuti....

Nathan said...

"They're looking for this Theory of Everything, but as soon as they seem to have it, it recedes." No doubt.

There are certainly parallels between Buddhism and quantum physics. I'd like to think that each can inform the other and, in the process, expand what it is to be human. (Or maybe allow us to realize a more fuller way to be human.)

Petteri Sulonen said...

The similarities are mostly illusory, though. Quantum physics and Buddhism aren't really about the same thing at all, and IMO you get into very dangerous waters if you try to compare them.

QM is a very sophisticated example of a constructed model of reality, whereas Buddhism is a system and method for transcending that constructed reality altogether.

Nathan said...

"QM is a very sophisticated example of a constructed model of reality, whereas Buddhism is a system and method for transcending that constructed reality altogether."

I think this is a fair assessment, and I agree just saying they are similar is dangerous territory. In fact, I have mostly stayed away from discussing my interest in Quantum physics, and the connections I do see between it and Buddhism, precisely because I think too many western practitioners conflate the two a in sloppy fashion.

However, when I hear some of these physicists talk, even though they are trying to construct models of reality, I also believe that they are interested in moving beyond their constructions. That they see what they are doing as partial - perhaps in a moon-pointing way. Maybe this is a minority view amongst the Quantum folks, but it's in that approach, that I find parallels to Buddhism.

And I do think it's worth considering those connections somehow - because I think both can inform each other in certain ways. And already are in fact.

Petteri Sulonen said...

Oh, there are certainly plenty of scientists pursuing spiritual quests. Perhaps more than in the general population, since it's at least possible that the same kind of questioning is behind both the drive for scientific discovery and the drive to go beyond it.

It's just a big mistake to think that they're any better at it than anyone else just because they understand QM. They're stumbling along in the dark, just like the rest of us.

There is one philosophical implication of QM that is significant, though. Namely, it precludes a completely deterministic universe, which leaves room for free will. That's reassuring for those of us who like to think there is some, however small, degree of it.