At times I will share passages from literature, philosophy, poetry, lyrics, etc that have both moved and sustained me. While many of the authors may not be from the recognized theosophical literature I believe they are theosophical in nature none-the-less. I also believe that the authors I bring here do their best work when I stay out of there way as much as possible. Other readers are encouraged to share as well.


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Comment by Bill Meredith on October 18, 2009 at 8:02am
Quotes from Ken Wilber

Grace and Grit:

As important as this "take-charge" attitude was, it was still only half the equation. In addition to learning how to take control and assume responsibility, a person also needs to learn when and how to let go, to surrender, to go with the flow and not resist or fight it. Letting go versus taking control - this is, of course, just another version of being versus doing, that primordial polarity of yin and yang that assumes a thousand different forms and is never exhausted...

The individual realizes that, no matter how much suffering might occur, it doesn't fundamentally affect his or her real being. Suffering comes and goes, but the person now possesses the "peace that surpasseth understanding." The sage feels suffering, but it doesn't "hurt." Because the sage is aware of suffering, he or she is motivated by compassion, by the desire to help all those who suffer and think it's real.

Jung found that modern men and women can spontaneously produce virtually all of the main themes of the world's mythic religions; they do so in dreams, in active imagination, in free association, and so on. From this he deduced that the basic mythic forms, which he called archetypes, are common in all people, are inherited by all people, and are carried in what he called the collective unconscious. As even Jung realized, it is necessary to move away from the archetypes, to differentiate from them, to be free of their power. This process he called individuation.

Simple Feeling of Being:

Divinity has one ultimate secret, which it will also whisper in your ear if your mind becomes quieter than the fog at sunset: the God of this world is found within, and you know it is found within: in those hushed silent times when the mind becomes still, the body relaxes into infinity, the senses expand to become one with the world- in those glistening times, a subtle luminosity, a serene radiance, a brilliantly transparent clarity shimmers as the true nature of all manifestation, erupting every now and then in a compassionate Radiance before whom all idols retreat, a love so fierce it adoringly embraces both light and dark, both good and evil, both pleasure and pain equally....

No Boundary:

....all the things and events we usually consider as irreconcilable, such as cause and effect, past and future, subject and object, are actually just like the crest and trough of a single wave, a single vibration. For a wave, although itself a single event, only expresses itself through the opposites of crest and trough, high point and low point. For that very reason, the reality is not found in the crest nor the trough alone, but in their unity...
Comment by Bill Meredith on August 15, 2009 at 10:36pm
Excerpts from The Wanderer by Kahlil Gibran

I met him at the crossroads, a man with but a cloak and a staff, and a veil of pain upon his face. And we greeted one another, and I said to him, “Come to my house and be my guest.”

And he came.

My wife and my children met us at the threshold, and he smiled at them, and they loved his coming.

Then we all sat together at the board and we were happy with the man for there was a silence and a mystery in him.

And after supper we gathered to the fire and I asked him about his wanderings.

He told us many a tale that night and also the next day, but what I now record was born out of the bitterness of his days though he himself was kindly, and these tales are of the dust and patience of his road.

And when he left us after three days we did not feel that a guest had departed but rather that one of us was still out in the garden and had not yet come in.


Once on a day the prophet Sharia met a child in a garden. The child ran to him and said, “Good morrow to you, Sir,” and the prophet said, “Good morrow to you, Sir.” And in a moment, “I see that you are alone.”

Then the child said, in laughter and delight, “It took a long time to lose my nurse. She thinks I am behind those hedges; but can’t you see that I am here?” Then he gazed at the prophet’s face and spoke again. “You are alone, too. What did you do with your nurse?”

The prophet answered and said, “Ah, that is a different thing. In very truth I cannot lose her oftentime. But now, when I came into this garden, she was seeking after me behind the hedges.”

The child clapped his hands and cried out, “So you are like me! Isn’t it good to be lost?” And then he said, “Who are you?”

And the man answered, “They call me the prophet Sharia. And tell me, who are you?”

“I am only myself,” said the child, “and my nurse is seeking after me, and she does not know where I am.”

Then the prophet gazed into space saying, “I too have escaped my nurse for awhile, but she will find me out.”

And the child said, “I know mine will find me out too.”

At that moment a woman’s voice was heard calling the child’s name, “See,” said the child, “I told you she would be finding me.”

And at the same moment another voice was heard, “Where art thou, Sharia?”

And the prophet said, “See my child, they have found me also.”

And turning his face upward, Sharia answered, “Here I am.”

Said one man to another, “At the high tide of the sea, long ago, with the point of my staff I wrote a line upon the sand; and the people still pause to read it, and they are careful that naught shall erase it.”

And the other man said, “And I to wrote a line upon the sand, but it was at low tide, and the waves of the vast sea washed it away. But tell me, what did you write?”

And the first man answered and said, “I wrote this: ‘I am he who is.’ But what did you write?”

And the other man said, “This I wrote: ‘I am but a drop of this great ocean.’ ”


It was in the garden of a madhouse that I met a youth with a face pale and lovely and full of wonder. And I sat beside him upon the bench, and I said, “Why are you here?”

And he looked at me in astonishment, and he said, “It is an unseemly question, yet I will answer you. My father would make of me a reproduction of himself; so also would my uncle. My mother would have me the image of her seafaring husband as the perfect example for me to follow. My brother thinks I should be like him, a fine athlete.

“And my teachers also, the doctor of philosophy, and the music-master, and the logician, they too were determined, and each would have me but a reflection of his own face in a mirror.

“Therefore I came to this place. I find it more sane here. At least, I can be myself.”

Then of a sudden he turned to me and he said, “But tell me, were you also driven to this place by education and good counsel?”

And I answered, “No, I am a visitor.”

And he answered, “Oh, you are one of those who live in the madhouse on the other side of the wall.”


A thousand years ago two philosophers met on a slope of Lebanon, and one said to the other, “Where goest thou?”

And the other answered, “I am seeking after the fountain of youth which I know wells out among these hills. I have found writings which tell of that fountain flowering toward the sun. And you, what are you seeking?”

The first man answered, “I am seeking after the mystery of death.”

Then each of the two philosophers conceived that the other was lacking in his great science, and they began to wrangle, and to accuse each other of spiritual blindness.

Now while the two philosophers were loud upon the wind, a stranger, a man who was deemed a simpleton in his own village, passed by, and when he heard the two in hot dispute, he stood awhile and listened to their argument.

Then he came near to them and said, “My good men, it seems that you both really belong to the same school of philosophy, and that you are speaking of the same thing, only you speak in different words. One of you is seeks the fountain of youth, and the other seeks the mystery of death. Yet indeed they are but one, and as they dwell in you both.”

Then the stranger turned away saying, “Farewell sages.” And as he departed he laughed a patient laughter.

The two philosophers looked at each other in silence for a moment, and then they laughed also. And one of them said, “Well now, shall we not walk and seek together.”


There lived among the hills a woman and her son, and he was her first-born and her only child.

And the boy died of a fever whilst the physician stood by.

The mother was distraught with sorrow, and she cried to the physician and besought him saying, “Tell me, tell me, what was it that made quiet his striving and silent his song?”

And the physician said, “It was the fever.”

And the mother said, “What is the fever?”

And the physician answered, “I cannot explain it. It is a thing infinitely small that visits the body, and we cannot see it with the human eye.”

The physician left her. And she kept repeating to herself, “Something infinitely small. We cannot see it with our human eye.”

And at evening the priest came to console her. And she wept and she cried out saying, “Oh, why have I lost my son, my only son, my first-born?”

And the priest answered, “My child, it is the will of God.”

And the woman said, “What is God and where is God? I would see God that I may tear my bosom before Him, and pour the blood of my heart at His feet. Tell me where I shall find Him.”

And the priest said, “”God is infinitely vast. He is not to be seen with our human eye.”

Then the woman cried out, “The infinitely small has slain my son through the will of the infinitely great! Then what are we? What are we?”

At that moment the woman’s mother came into the room with the shroud for the dead boy, and she heard the words of the priest and also her daughter’s cry. And she laid down the shroud, and took her daughter’s hand in her own hand, and she said, “My daughter, we ourselves are the infinitely small and the infinitely great; and we are the path between the two.”

Upon a June day the grass said to the shadow of an elm tree, “You move to right and left over-often, and you disturb my peace.”

And the shadow answered and said, “Not I, not I. Look skyward. There is a tree that moves in the wind to the east and to the west, between the sun and the earth.”

And the grass looked up, and for the first time beheld the tree. And it said in its heart, “Why, behold, there is a larger grass than myself.”

And the grass was silent.

In the valley of Kadisha where the mighty river flows, two little streams met and spoke to one another.

One stream said, “How came you, my friend, and how was your path?”

And the other answered, “My path was most encumbered. The wheel of the mill was broken, and the master farmer who used to conduct me from my channel to his plants, is dead. I struggled down oozing with the filth of laziness in the sun. But how was your path, my brother?”

And the other stream answered and said, “Mine was a different path. I came down the hills among fragrant flowers and shy willows; men and women drank of me with silvery cups, and little children paddled their rosy feet at my edges, and there was laughter all about me, and there were sweet songs. What a pity that your path was not so happy.”

At that moment the river spoke with a loud voice and said, “Come in, come in, we are going to the sea. Come in, come in, speak no more. Be with me now. We are going to the sea. Come in, come in, for in me you shall forget your wanderings, sad or gay. Come in, come in. And you and I will forget all our ways when we reach the heart of our mother the sea.”

Upon a day in May, Joy and Sorrow met beside a lake. They greeted one another, and they sat down near the quiet waters and conversed.

Joy spoke of the beauty which is upon the earth, and the daily wonder of life in the forest and among the hills, and of the songs heard at dawn and eventide.

And sorrow spoke, and agreed with all that Joy had said; for Sorrow knew the magic of the hour and the beauty thereof. And Sorrow was eloquent when he spoke of may in the fields and among the hills.

And Joy and Sorrow talked long together, and they agreed upon all things of which they knew.

Now there passed by on the other side of the lake two hunters. And as they looked across the water one of them said, “I wonder who are those two persons?” And the other said, “Did you say two? I see only one.”

The first hunter said, “But there are two.” And the second said, “There is only one that I can see, and the reflection in the lake is only one.”

“Nay, there are two,” said the first hunter, “and the reflection in the still water is of two persons.”

But the second man said again, “Only one do I see.” And again the other said, “But I see two so plainly.”

And even unto this day one hunter says that the other sees double; while the other says, “My friend is somewhat blind.”

Once on a time I met another man of the roads. He too was a little mad, and thus spoke to me:

“I am a wanderer. Oftentimes it seems that I walk the earth among pygmies. And because my head is seventy cubits farther from the earth than theirs, it creates higher and freer thoughts.

“But in truth I walk not among men but above them, and all they can see of me is my footprints in their open fields.

“And often have I heard them discuss and disagree over the shape and size of my footprints. For there are some who say, ‘These are the tracks of a mammoth that roamed the earth in the far past.’ And others say, ‘Nay, these are places where meteors have fallen from the distant stars.’

“But you, my friend, you know full well that they are naught save the footprints of a wanderer.”
Comment by Bill Meredith on August 6, 2009 at 11:23am
By Lera Boroditsky

Humans communicate with one another using a dazzling array of languages, each differing from the next in innumerable ways. Do the languages we speak shape the way we see the world, the way we think, and the way we live our lives? Do people who speak different languages think differently simply because they speak different languages? Does learning new languages change the way you think? Do polyglots think differently when speaking different languages?

These questions touch on nearly all of the major controversies in the study of mind. They have engaged scores of philosophers, anthropologists, linguists, and psychologists, and they have important implications for politics, law, and religion. Yet despite nearly constant attention and debate, very little empirical work was done on these questions until recently. For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question. We have collected data around the world: from China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal Australia. What we have learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.

I often start my undergraduate lectures by asking students the following question: which cognitive faculty would you most hate to lose? Most of them pick the sense of sight; a few pick hearing. Once in a while, a wisecracking student might pick her sense of humor or her fashion sense. Almost never do any of them spontaneously say that the faculty they'd most hate to lose is language. Yet if you lose (or are born without) your sight or hearing, you can still have a wonderfully rich social existence. You can have friends, you can get an education, you can hold a job, you can start a family. But what would your life be like if you had never learned a language? Could you still have friends, get an education, hold a job, start a family? Language is so fundamental to our experience, so deeply a part of being human, that it's hard to imagine life without it. But are languages merely tools for expressing our thoughts, or do they actually shape our thoughts?

Most questions of whether and how language shapes thought start with the simple observation that languages differ from one another. And a lot! Let's take a (very) hypothetical example. Suppose you want to say, "Bush read Chomsky's latest book." Let's focus on just the verb, "read." To say this sentence in English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we have to pronounce it like "red" and not like "reed." In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can't) alter the verb to mark tense. In Russian you would have to alter the verb to indicate tense and gender. So if it was Laura Bush who did the reading, you'd use a different form of the verb than if it was George. In Russian you'd also have to include in the verb information about completion. If George read only part of the book, you'd use a different form of the verb than if he'd diligently plowed through the whole thing. In Turkish you'd have to include in the verb how you acquired this information: if you had witnessed this unlikely event with your own two eyes, you'd use one verb form, but if you had simply read or heard about it, or inferred it from something Bush said, you'd use a different verb form.

Clearly, languages require different things of their speakers. Does this mean that the speakers think differently about the world? Do English, Indonesian, Russian, and Turkish speakers end up attending to, partitioning, and remembering their experiences differently just because they speak different languages? For some scholars, the answer to these questions has been an obvious yes. Just look at the way people talk, they might say. Certainly, speakers of different languages must attend to and encode strikingly different aspects of the world just so they can use their language properly.

Scholars on the other side of the debate don't find the differences in how people talk convincing. All our linguistic utterances are sparse, encoding only a small part of the information we have available. Just because English speakers don't include the same information in their verbs that Russian and Turkish speakers do doesn't mean that English speakers aren't paying attention to the same things; all it means is that they're not talking about them. It's possible that everyone thinks the same way, notices the same things, but just talks differently.

Believers in cross-linguistic differences counter that everyone does not pay attention to the same things: if everyone did, one might think it would be easy to learn to speak other languages. Unfortunately, learning a new language (especially one not closely related to those you know) is never easy; it seems to require paying attention to a new set of distinctions. Whether it's distinguishing modes of being in Spanish, evidentiality in Turkish, or aspect in Russian, learning to speak these languages requires something more than just learning vocabulary: it requires paying attention to the right things in the world so that you have the correct information to include in what you say.

Such a priori arguments about whether or not language shapes thought have gone in circles for centuries, with some arguing that it's impossible for language to shape thought and others arguing that it's impossible for language not to shape thought. Recently my group and others have figured out ways to empirically test some of the key questions in this ancient debate, with fascinating results. So instead of arguing about what must be true or what can't be true, let's find out what is true.

Follow me to Pormpuraaw, a small Aboriginal community on the western edge of Cape York, in northern Australia. I came here because of the way the locals, the Kuuk Thaayorre, talk about space. Instead of words like "right," "left," "forward," and "back," which, as commonly used in English, define space relative to an observer, the Kuuk Thaayorre, like many other Aboriginal groups, use cardinal-direction terms — north, south, east, and west — to define space.1 This is done at all scales, which means you have to say things like "There's an ant on your southeast leg" or "Move the cup to the north northwest a little bit." One obvious consequence of speaking such a language is that you have to stay oriented at all times, or else you cannot speak properly. The normal greeting in Kuuk Thaayorre is "Where are you going?" and the answer should be something like " Southsoutheast, in the middle distance." If you don't know which way you're facing, you can't even get past "Hello."

The result is a profound difference in navigational ability and spatial knowledge between speakers of languages that rely primarily on absolute reference frames (like Kuuk Thaayorre) and languages that rely on relative reference frames (like English).2 Simply put, speakers of languages like Kuuk Thaayorre are much better than English speakers at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes or inside unfamiliar buildings. What enables them — in fact, forces them — to do this is their language. Having their attention trained in this way equips them to perform navigational feats once thought beyond human capabilities. Because space is such a fundamental domain of thought, differences in how people think about space don't end there. People rely on their spatial knowledge to build other, more complex, more abstract representations. Representations of such things as time, number, musical pitch, kinship relations, morality, and emotions have been shown to depend on how we think about space. So if the Kuuk Thaayorre think differently about space, do they also think differently about other things, like time? This is what my collaborator Alice Gaby and I came to Pormpuraaw to find out.

To test this idea, we gave people sets of pictures that showed some kind of temporal progression (e.g., pictures of a man aging, or a crocodile growing, or a banana being eaten). Their job was to arrange the shuffled photos on the ground to show the correct temporal order. We tested each person in two separate sittings, each time facing in a different cardinal direction. If you ask English speakers to do this, they'll arrange the cards so that time proceeds from left to right. Hebrew speakers will tend to lay out the cards from right to left, showing that writing direction in a language plays a role.3 So what about folks like the Kuuk Thaayorre, who don't use words like "left" and "right"? What will they do?

The Kuuk Thaayorre did not arrange the cards more often from left to right than from right to left, nor more toward or away from the body. But their arrangements were not random: there was a pattern, just a different one from that of English speakers. Instead of arranging time from left to right, they arranged it from east to west. That is, when they were seated facing south, the cards went left to right. When they faced north, the cards went from right to left. When they faced east, the cards came toward the body and so on. This was true even though we never told any of our subjects which direction they faced. The Kuuk Thaayorre not only knew that already (usually much better than I did), but they also spontaneously used this spatial orientation to construct their representations of time.

People's ideas of time differ across languages in other ways. For example, English speakers tend to talk about time using horizontal spatial metaphors (e.g., "The best is ahead of us," "The worst is behind us"), whereas Mandarin speakers have a vertical metaphor for time (e.g., the next month is the "down month" and the last month is the "up month"). Mandarin speakers talk about time vertically more often than English speakers do, so do Mandarin speakers think about time vertically more often than English speakers do? Imagine this simple experiment. I stand next to you, point to a spot in space directly in front of you, and tell you, "This spot, here, is today. Where would you put yesterday? And where would you put tomorrow?" When English speakers are asked to do this, they nearly always point horizontally. But Mandarin speakers often point vertically, about seven or eight times more often than do English speakers.4

Even basic aspects of time perception can be affected by language. For example, English speakers prefer to talk about duration in terms of length (e.g., "That was a short talk," "The meeting didn't take long"), while Spanish and Greek speakers prefer to talk about time in terms of amount, relying more on words like "much" "big", and "little" rather than "short" and "long" Our research into such basic cognitive abilities as estimating duration shows that speakers of different languages differ in ways predicted by the patterns of metaphors in their language. (For example, when asked to estimate duration, English speakers are more likely to be confused by distance information, estimating that a line of greater length remains on the test screen for a longer period of time, whereas Greek speakers are more likely to be confused by amount, estimating that a container that is fuller remains longer on the screen.)5

An important question at this point is: Are these differences caused by language per se or by some other aspect of culture? Of course, the lives of English, Mandarin, Greek, Spanish, and Kuuk Thaayorre speakers differ in a myriad of ways. How do we know that it is language itself that creates these differences in thought and not some other aspect of their respective cultures?

One way to answer this question is to teach people new ways of talking and see if that changes the way they think. In our lab, we've taught English speakers different ways of talking about time. In one such study, English speakers were taught to use size metaphors (as in Greek) to describe duration (e.g., a movie is larger than a sneeze), or vertical metaphors (as in Mandarin) to describe event order. Once the English speakers had learned to talk about time in these new ways, their cognitive performance began to resemble that of Greek or Mandarin speakers. This suggests that patterns in a language can indeed play a causal role in constructing how we think.6 In practical terms, it means that when you're learning a new language, you're not simply learning a new way of talking, you are also inadvertently learning a new way of thinking. Beyond abstract or complex domains of thought like space and time, languages also meddle in basic aspects of visual perception — our ability to distinguish colors, for example. Different languages divide up the color continuum differently: some make many more distinctions between colors than others, and the boundaries often don't line up across languages.

To test whether differences in color language lead to differences in color perception, we compared Russian and English speakers' ability to discriminate shades of blue. In Russian there is no single word that covers all the colors that English speakers call "blue." Russian makes an obligatory distinction between light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy). Does this distinction mean that siniy blues look more different from goluboy blues to Russian speakers? Indeed, the data say yes. Russian speakers are quicker to distinguish two shades of blue that are called by the different names in Russian (i.e., one being siniy and the other being goluboy) than if the two fall into the same category.

For English speakers, all these shades are still designated by the same word, "blue," and there are no comparable differences in reaction time.

Further, the Russian advantage disappears when subjects are asked to perform a verbal interference task (reciting a string of digits) while making color judgments but not when they're asked to perform an equally difficult spatial interference task (keeping a novel visual pattern in memory). The disappearance of the advantage when performing a verbal task shows that language is normally involved in even surprisingly basic perceptual judgments — and that it is language per se that creates this difference in perception between Russian and English speakers.

When Russian speakers are blocked from their normal access to language by a verbal interference task, the differences between Russian and English speakers disappear.

Even what might be deemed frivolous aspects of language can have far-reaching subconscious effects on how we see the world. Take grammatical gender. In Spanish and other Romance languages, nouns are either masculine or feminine. In many other languages, nouns are divided into many more genders ("gender" in this context meaning class or kind). For example, some Australian Aboriginal languages have up to sixteen genders, including classes of hunting weapons, canines, things that are shiny, or, in the phrase made famous by cognitive linguist George Lakoff, "women, fire, and dangerous things."

What it means for a language to have grammatical gender is that words belonging to different genders get treated differently grammatically and words belonging to the same grammatical gender get treated the same grammatically. Languages can require speakers to change pronouns, adjective and verb endings, possessives, numerals, and so on, depending on the noun's gender. For example, to say something like "my chair was old" in Russian (moy stul bil' stariy), you'd need to make every word in the sentence agree in gender with "chair" (stul), which is masculine in Russian. So you'd use the masculine form of "my," "was," and "old." These are the same forms you'd use in speaking of a biological male, as in "my grandfather was old." If, instead of speaking of a chair, you were speaking of a bed (krovat'), which is feminine in Russian, or about your grandmother, you would use the feminine form of "my," "was," and "old."

Does treating chairs as masculine and beds as feminine in the grammar make Russian speakers think of chairs as being more like men and beds as more like women in some way? It turns out that it does. In one study, we asked German and Spanish speakers to describe objects having opposite gender assignment in those two languages. The descriptions they gave differed in a way predicted by grammatical gender. For example, when asked to describe a "key" — a word that is masculine in German and feminine in Spanish — the German speakers were more likely to use words like "hard," "heavy," "jagged," "metal," "serrated," and "useful," whereas Spanish speakers were more likely to say "golden," "intricate," "little," "lovely," "shiny," and "tiny." To describe a "bridge," which is feminine in German and masculine in Spanish, the German speakers said "beautiful," "elegant," "fragile," "peaceful," "pretty," and "slender," and the Spanish speakers said "big," "dangerous," "long," "strong," "sturdy," and "towering." This was true even though all testing was done in English, a language without grammatical gender. The same pattern of results also emerged in entirely nonlinguistic tasks (e.g., rating similarity between pictures). And we can also show that it is aspects of language per se that shape how people think: teaching English speakers new grammatical gender systems influences mental representations of objects in the same way it does with German and Spanish speakers. Apparently even small flukes of grammar, like the seemingly arbitrary assignment of gender to a noun, can have an effect on people's ideas of concrete objects in the world.7

In fact, you don't even need to go into the lab to see these effects of language; you can see them with your own eyes in an art gallery. Look at some famous examples of personification in art — the ways in which abstract entities such as death, sin, victory, or time are given human form. How does an artist decide whether death, say, or time should be painted as a man or a woman? It turns out that in 85 percent of such personifications, whether a male or female figure is chosen is predicted by the grammatical gender of the word in the artist's native language. So, for example, German painters are more likely to paint death as a man, whereas Russian painters are more likely to paint death as a woman.

The fact that even quirks of grammar, such as grammatical gender, can affect our thinking is profound. Such quirks are pervasive in language; gender, for example, applies to all nouns, which means that it is affecting how people think about anything that can be designated by a noun. That's a lot of stuff!

I have described how languages shape the way we think about space, time, colors, and objects. Other studies have found effects of language on how people construe events, reason about causality, keep track of number, understand material substance, perceive and experience emotion, reason about other people's minds, choose to take risks, and even in the way they choose professions and spouses.8 Taken together, these results show that linguistic processes are pervasive in most fundamental domains of thought, unconsciously shaping us from the nuts and bolts of cognition and perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions. Language is central to our experience of being human, and the languages we speak profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we live our lives.



1 S. C. Levinson and D. P. Wilkins, eds., Grammars of Space: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

2 Levinson, Space in Language and Cognition: Explorations in Cognitive Diversity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

3 B. Tversky et al., “ Cross-Cultural and Developmental Trends in Graphic Productions,” Cognitive Psychology 23(1991): 515–7; O. Fuhrman and L. Boroditsky, “Mental Time-Lines Follow Writing Direction: Comparing English and Hebrew Speakers.” Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2007): 1007–10.

4 L. Boroditsky, "Do English and Mandarin Speakers Think Differently About Time?" Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society (2007): 34.

5 D. Casasanto et al., "How Deep Are Effects of Language on Thought? Time Estimation in Speakers of English, Indonesian Greek, and Spanish," Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2004): 575–80.

6 Ibid., "How Deep Are Effects of Language on Thought? Time Estimation in Speakers of English and Greek" (in review); L. Boroditsky, "Does Language Shape Thought? English and Mandarin Speakers' Conceptions of Time." Cognitive Psychology 43, no. 1(2001): 1–22.

7 L. Boroditsky et al. "Sex, Syntax, and Semantics," in D. Gentner and S. Goldin-Meadow, eds., Language in Mind: Advances in the Study of Language and Cognition (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 61–79.

8 L. Boroditsky, "Linguistic Relativity," in L. Nadel ed., Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (London: MacMillan, 2003), 917–21; B. W. Pelham et al., "Why Susie Sells Seashells by the Seashore: Implicit Egotism and Major Life Decisions." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82, no. 4(2002): 469–86; A. Tversky & D. Kahneman, "The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice." Science 211(1981): 453–58; P. Pica et al., "Exact and Approximate Arithmetic in an Amazonian Indigene Group." Science 306(2004): 499–503; J. G. de Villiers and P. A. de Villiers, "Linguistic Determinism and False Belief," in P. Mitchell and K. Riggs, eds., Children's Reasoning and the Mind (Hove, UK: Psychology Press, in press); J. A. Lucy and S. Gaskins, "Interaction of Language Type and Referent Type in the Development of Nonverbal Classification Preferences," in Gentner and Goldin-Meadow, 465–92; L. F. Barrett et al., "Language as a Context for Emotion Perception," Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11(2007): 327–32.
Comment by Bill Meredith on July 26, 2009 at 11:18am

Hindu India developed a magnificent image to describe God's relationship
with creation. God "dances" creation. God is the dancer, creation is the
dance. The dance is different from the dancer, yet it has no existence
apart from the dancer. You cannot take it home in a box if it pleases you.
The moment the dancer stops, the dance ceases to be.

In our quest for God, we think too much, reflect too much, talk too much.
Even when we look at this dance that we call creation, we are the whole time
thinking, talking, reflecting, analyzing, philosophizing. Words. Noise.

Be silent and contemplate the dance. Just look: a star, a flower, a fading
leaf, a bird, a stone . . . any fragment of the dance will do. Look.
Listen. Smell. Touch. Taste. And hopefully, it won't be long before you
see the dancer!

The disciple was always complaining to his master, "You are hiding the final
secret of Zen from me."

And he would not accept the master's denials.

One day they were walking in the hills when they heard a bird sing.

"Did you hear that bird sing? said the master.

"Yes" said the disciple.

"Well, now you know that I have hidden nothing from you."


If you really heard a bird sing, if you really saw a tree . . . you would
know. Beyond words and concepts.

What was that you said? You have heard dozens of birds sing and seen
hundreds of trees? Ah, was it the tree you saw or the label? If you look
at a tree and see a tree, you have really not seen the tree. When you look
at the tree and see a miracle - then, at last, you have seen! Did your
heart never fill with wordless wonder when you heard a bird in song?"

quote from Anthony De Mello's book "The Song of the Bird"
Comment by Bill Meredith on July 13, 2009 at 11:40am
The Little Man
Bob Fergeson

From early morning coffee
to late night herbal tea,
We lived for near forever,
the Little Man and me.

When first I came to travel
in this classroom wide and grand,
I knew nothing of the coming
of this lonely Little Man.

But parents, teachers, doctors,
the whole damn Helping Herd,
Soon created him inside me,
As their ancestors had insured.
He has no real existence,
None that I can see.
But could and should and would!
Screamed the Little Man in me.

Soon I hid myself in pride,
Found that fear blocked every door.
I was now what I despised!
Just as those that'd gone before.

The hypnosis worked it's magic,
No peace had I, no stand.
Just a mis-identification,
I became the Little Man.
I took him for a person,
Hell, I thought that he was me!
He sure could be convincing,
that Little Man in me.

Then one day it happened,
I know not really why,
I looked out there below me
From some Great Eternal Sky.
He didn't even notice,
So busy as a bee,
He just kept right on sleeping, but
that Little Man ain't me!

One day looking in the mirror,
From my bed as I did stand,
I receded back behind him,
that sleeping Little Man.
He didn't even notice,
Just a grain lost in the sand,
He can't look back and see me,
that lonely Little Man.

I watch him and his pattern,
How he blends right in so well,
That his life and his surroundings
are no different from himself.
He has no greater vision,
Desire and fear are all he sees.
An actor in the TV,
that Little Man in me.

It's a sad but true short story,
I cry a tear, and so does he,
He won't survive, he lives to die,
the Little Man in me.

Copyright 2003 - 2006 Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved.
Comment by Bill Meredith on July 7, 2009 at 7:25am
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Kusek
Sent: Friday, July 03, 2009 3:46 PM
Subject: [theos-l] Re: Understanding

Jerry wrote:

This post will likely win me no friends, but I feel that I need to speak my view. Responses are always appreciated, but not necessary.>>

There is more than enough room for everybody's views.

"Object permanence" is a term used in modern psychology to name a developmental task or stage undergone by young children. >>

We all underwent it.

Think of your Mother.

If you can see her in your mind, that is evidence of functioning object permanence.

We learned how to expect that she (or whoever it was who cared for us) would "be there" even when we couldn't directly sense her, see her or hear her in the room with us.

We built an object of her in our mind in order to cope with how we felt about her not being there and to reassure ourselves that she was still there when we couldn't see her. If you had a Mom like mine, there was usually a teddy bear around somewhere too.

The funny thing that also happened alongside this conceptual (conventionalized) objectification of our 'idea/feeling' towards "Mom", was a corresponding objectification of another idea/feeling form that defined how we felt in relation to her. This direction of the flow of the process helped define "us" and served as a basis for our own ego personality to develop consciously in the waking world.

This is really important stuff to grasp, especially the feeling toned component of it which defines a relationship with the object in question, whether positve, negative or neutral (+ . -)

Get it?

The energic charges are our own feelings about the objects.

The charge is held in the object, giving it power. A charge is also held in us (in our own imago, our own name/form), giving us reactivity and by contrast, a sense of potential energy and preference from which we learn how to make choices, exercise our will.

So "object relations theory" and the notion of "object permanence" essentially point to an active functional process, one of the results of which is to define the conscious ego and a sense of personal will for us. This happens through our relationships with and out of a dependance on "others." We learned to "hold them steady" in our minds in order to cope with infantile fears about getting our needs met. This defining process, as it is continually occurring, also helps make us who we seem to be each day (both to ourselves and to others) as we continually wake up each day. Look honestly at your relationships and especially how you feel about them. Pay attention to the feelings you have. "You and I and We and Us and He and She and They" are all in there. Your own ego is being defined in there.

Because it first happens so early and is so rudimentary to the foundation of our basic psychological structure and how we consciously function, we usually aren't even aware of it.

It's good practice to slow down and try to notice it.

It is essentially functioning, and continues to function, below the threshold of conscious awareness, which is literally built on top of it from an aggregate of other such "object" relations. That's a lot of what ego is. A bunch of affected object relations, fragments of experiences, feelings, thoughts, ideas, images, etc. all piled on top of each other, over time, like sticks in a birds nest. That's an apt metaphor, Ego surfaces and is built up that way. It floats up out of the unconscious like a birds nest or a little raft upon the sea. An island to itself.

But here is the part that Jerry keeps telling us, and I believe it's true, relatively speaking or seems to be. Simultaneously, arising with this "bird's nest" of ego, is the related sense that there are these external, permanent "other" objects existing "out there" too.

The whole thing arises together (you and it) and mutually defines itself as I and Not I: and it's variants - i.e., I and other(s), I and world, I and cosmos, universe, all that is, I and all I know, all I understand, etc.

The notion of the bird's nest on the sea is a pretty useful image, I think, so let's work with it a minute longer.

It is, I will say, a polyvalent symbol. It means a few things and can be looked at from different angles. With everyone who looks at it allowed their own view and their own personal bond with the symbol's form, energy, contents and meaning. Everyone is allowed their own interpretation. Feel encouraged to form one, in fact. Be all that you can be.

Karma. Dharma. Swabhava. Hum.

I interpret this symbol to define the nest as ego and the sea as the unconscious.

What about the air above the sea? This is where the ego can sense itself, where it can see itself. This is ego's space, it's air, it's consciousness, or just consciousness. It is the Jungian "Conscious" and the ego-nest is built up and inhabits it as center, wrapped around and anchored with a somatic reference to the body whose wondrous roots sink below your threshold of awareness. It is the arena of the ego's awareness providing space where it can functionally sense/cognize. It is the ego's personality when it moves the body or uses it's organs of action or refers to "I", (usually a combination of an idea with a somatic or sensual reference, coupled with an emotional affect .)

It looks like you in the mirror and lives at your address! It is typing this to you. Hello.

It is also "Not-I" as Jerry would say, when ego looks out to functionally summon or interact with the set of "objects." It is very interesting to look around, both outside and inside yourself from this perspective. Try it. Use this information as a lens. Just try it.

Colloquially, the "Not-I" is just the world as we normally know it, the one we wake up in each morning, our own personal psychcosm. A conscious, personal psychcosm. Consciousness is like bubble. In it is I and Not-I. This is a mental/emotion image, both the notion of yourself and everything else. it is all in one sense, an image in your own mind. Get it?

When you close your eyes and imagine, it's easier to realize. The trick is that we are doing exactly the same thing when we are looking through or eyes or using any of our senses. We are creating it all, reinforcing, projecting and constantly building up the "imago" of both ego and "objects." It feels very personal and very normal and we sometimes miss our own involvement in the creative process of consciousness. We are all artists in this sense, each and everyone of us.

Here is some good reference material:

The Conquest Of Illusion by J. Van Der Leeuw

Free Online Version:

Examination of the plates:

Just a bit more to finish the thought;

Our egos are defined by this process whereby it is related to it's objects through affect (an emotional charge - good, bad or indifferent). "I like him, I hate her, I can't stand that, love him, I don't know, I don't care, etc!"

This is where the energy comes from that makes both ego and world, your own emotion. Think about it, it's pretty wild. It all comes about through you and how you feel. YOU come to be in the process too. I find that pretty wild, don't you guys?

This idea of "environment" (meaning the air and sunshine that the bird's nest of ego rises up into as it breaks through and floats up onto the unconscious waters) is a bubble of consciousness in that sea. A torroidal, whirling bubble, a spherical vortex (exactly like a "hole in space") that extends out as far as you are capable of extension of consciousness. You reach the outer edges of the field whenever you "don't know" something. For example, think about what you really understand about the cosmos, or world history for example. That's a pretty easy way to find the grey zones or get to the thresholds between the conscious and unconscious That's one easy way to find and experience these psychologically auric edges of consciousness directly.

Just pay attention to your everyday life. The path forms right under your feet. It is a Royal Road. It leads both deeply within as well as without, back into the sunshine and the air that the birds nest floats in.

There is land here too. Earth elements. Local known hang outs, kitchens and bathrooms. Real life. Pain. Taxes.

You conceive and populate these lands with mental ( kama-manasic is really a better word than mental, I think, because it includes the emotional. It can be mental images alone too (air) or fire with air. You can feel the dryness and the heat.

Then you relate to these images.

These relationships that you hold as images of objects, coupled with how you feel about them (good, bad, indifferent, unknown) form the kama-manasic imago or conventionalization of conscious, egoic spacetime for you. This is your whole cosmos, kosmos, or world and literally everything you think, know, feel, say or do. Consciousness - for you ... personally.

This is exactly the same thing as the Mind Only Buddhist notion of "conventional reality" that Jerry keeps referring to.

It can be profitable because of this, I think, for theos minded folk to look a little bit into "Object Relations Theory".

The "Objects" being referred to in the theory are the whole, personal sets of our conscious and semi-conscious, mental/emotional objects, literally the same ''thoughtforms' as discussed in theosophy, to which I now added, the thoughtforms of the ego itself (called your personality) and the ego's own concept of the world it lives in and knows, and it's contents (it's own "Not-I," which is just another class of thoughtform - a conscious psychocosm).

If you like to spend even a little bit of time doodling, you can easily create a mandala of your life with this idea, that would probably be personally useful to you for many things. You can do it simply and effectively with any symbols, words, shapes, images or combinations thereof that hold important values to you, whatever you feel strongly about (or measured about). Start by using your treasures. You have them. We all do. Arrange them. Orient with them. Intuit direction with them. They are blueprints for your own fruition. Accomplish it.

Terma in culture. Artifacts of the value of consciousness.

Art therapy. I (eye)-magic.


-- M

Mark Kusek
Without Walls: An Internet Art Space
Comment by Bill Meredith on July 4, 2009 at 8:11am
By Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D.

Where are our minds located? We have been brought up to believe that they are inside our heads, that mental activity is nothing but brain activity. Instead, I suggest that our minds extend far beyond our brains; they stretch out through fields that link us to our environment and to each other.

Mental fields are rooted in brains, just as magnetic fields around magnets are rooted in the magnets themselves, or just as the fields of transmission around mobile phones are rooted in the phones and their internal electrical activities. As magnetic fields extend around magnets, and electromagnetic fields around mobile phones, so mental fields extend around brains.

Mental fields help to explain telepathy, the sense of being stared at and other widespread but unexplained abilities. Above all, mental fields underlie normal perception. They are an essential part of vision.


Look around you now. Are the images of what you see inside your brain? Or are they outside you – just where they seem to be?

According to the conventional theory, there is a one-way process: light moves in, but nothing is projected out. The inward movement of light is familiar enough. As you look at this page, reflected light moves from the page through the electromagnetic field into your eyes. The lenses of your eyes focus the light to form upside-down images on your retinas. This light falling on your retinal rod and cone cells causes electrical changes within them, which trigger off patterned changes in the nerves of the retina. Nerve impulses move up your optic nerves and into the brain, where they give rise to complex patterns of electrical and chemical activity. So far, so good. All these processes can be, and have been, studied in great detail by neurophysiologists and other experts on vision and brain activity.

But then something very mysterious happens. You consciously experience what you are seeing, the page in front of you. You also become conscious of the printed words and their meanings. From the point of view of the standard theory, there is no reason why you should be conscious at all. Brain mechanisms ought to go on just as well without consciousness.

Then comes a further problem. When you see this page, you do not experience your image of it as being inside your brain, where it is supposed to be. Instead, you experience its image as being located about two feet in front of you. The image is outside your body.

For all its physiological sophistication, the standard theory has no explanation for your most immediate and direct experience. All your experience is supposed to be inside your brain, a kind of virtual reality show inside your head. That means your skull must lie beyond everything you are seeing: if you look at the sky, your skull must be beyond the sky! This seems an absurd idea, but it seems to be a necessary implication of the mind-in-brain theory.

The idea I am proposing is so simple that it is hard to grasp. Your image of this page is just where it seems to be, in front of your eyes, not behind your eyes. It is not inside your brain, but outside your brain.

Thus vision involves both an inward movement of light, and an outward projection of images. Through mental fields our minds reach out to touch what we are looking at. If we look at a mountain ten miles away, our minds stretch out ten miles. If we gaze at distant stars our minds reach out into the heavens, over literally astronomical distances.


Sometimes when I look at someone from behind, he or she turns and looks straight at me. And sometimes I suddenly turn around and find someone staring at me. Surveys show that more than 90% of people have had experiences such as these. The sense of being stared at should not occur if attention is all inside the head. But if it stretches out and links us to what we are looking at, then our looking could affect what we look at. Is it just an illusion, or does the sense of being stared at really exist?

This question can be explored through simple, inexpensive experiments. People work in pairs. One person, the subject, sits with his or her back to the other, wearing a blind-fold. The other person, the looker, sits behind the subject, and in a random series of trials either looks at the subject's neck, or looks away and think of something else. The beginning of each trial is signalled by a mechanical clicker or bleeper. Each trial lasts about ten seconds and the subject guesses out loud "looking" or "not looking". Detailed instructions are given on my website, More than 100,000 trials have now been carried out, and the results are overwhelmingly positive and hugely significant statistically, with odds against chance of quadrillions to one. The sense of being stared at even works when people are looked at through closed-circuit TV. Animals are also sensitive to being looked at by people, and people by animals. This sensitivity to looks seems widespread in the animal kingdom and may well have evolved in the context of predator-prey relationships: an animal that sensed when an unseen predator was staring would stand a better chance of surviving than an animal without this sense.


Educated people have been brought up to believe that telepathy does not exist. Like other so-called psychic phenomena, it is dismissed as an illusion.

Most people who espouse these opinions, which I used to myself, do not do so on the basis of a close examination of the evidence. They do so because there is a taboo against taking telepathy seriously. This taboo is related to the prevailing paradigm or model of reality within institutional science, namely the mind-inside-the-brain theory, according to which telepathy and other psychic phenomena, which seem to imply mysterious kinds of 'action at a distance', cannot possibly exist.

This taboo dates back at least as far as the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century. But this is not the place to examine its history (which I discuss in The Sense of Being Stared At). Rather I want to summarize some recent experiments, which suggest that telepathy not only exists, but that it is a normal part of animal communication.


I first became interested in the subject of telepathy some fifteen years ago, and started looking at evidence for telepathy in the animals we know best, namely pets. I soon came across numerous stories from owners of dogs, cats, parrots, horses and other animals that suggested that these animals seemed able to read their minds and intentions.

Through public appeals I have built up a large database of such stories, currently containing more than 5,000 case histories. These stories fall into several categories. For example, many cat owners say that their animals seem to sense when they are planning to take them to the vet, even before they have taken out the carrying basket or given any apparent clue as to their intention. Some people say their dogs know when they are going to be taken for a walk, even when they are in a different room, out of sight or hearing, and when the person is merely thinking about taking them for a walk. Of course, no one finds this behaviour surprising if it happens at a routine time, or if the dogs see the person getting ready to go out, or hear the word "walk". They think it is telepathic because it seems to happen in the absence of such clues.

One of the commonest and most testable claims about dogs and cats is that they know when their owners are coming home, in some cases anticipating their arrival by ten minutes or more. In random household surveys in Britain and America, my colleagues and I have found that approximately 50% of dog owners and 30% of cat owners believe that their animals anticipate the arrival of a member of the household. Through hundreds of videotaped experiments, my colleagues and I have shown that dogs react to their owners' intentions to come home even when they are many miles away, even when they return at randomly-chosen times, and even when they travel in unfamiliar vehicles such as taxis. Telepathy seems the only hypothesis that can account for the facts. (For more details, see my book Dogs that Know When their Owners Are Coming Home, And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals.)


In the course of my research on unexplained powers of animals, I heard of dozens of dogs and cats that seemed to anticipate telephone calls from their owners. For example, when the telephone rings in the household of a noted professor at the University of California at Berkeley, his wife knows when her husband is on the other end of the line because Whiskins, their silver tabby cat, rushes to the telephone and paws at the receiver. "Many times he succeeds in taking it off the hook and makes appreciative miaws that are clearly audible to my husband at the other end", she says. "If someone else telephones, Whiskins takes no notice." The cat responds even when he telephones home from field trips in Africa or South America.

This led me to reflect that I myself had had this kind of experience, in that I had thought of people for no apparent reason who, shortly thereafter, called. I asked my family and friends if they had ever had this experience, and I soon found the majority were very familiar with it. Some said they knew when their mother or boyfriend or other significant person was calling because the phone sounded different!

Through extensive surveys, my colleagues and I have found that the most people have had seemingly telepathic experiences with telephone calls. Indeed this is the commonest kind of apparent telepathy in the modern world.

Is this all a matter of coincidence, and selective memory, whereby people only remember when someone they were thinking about rang, and forget all the times they were wrong? Most sceptics assume that this is the case, but until recently there had never been any scientific research on the subject at all.

I have developed a simple experiment to test for telephone telepathy. Participants receive a call from one of four different callers at a prearranged time, and they themselves choose the callers, usually close friends or family members. For each test, the caller is picked at random by the experimenter by throwing a die. The participant has to say who the caller is before the caller says anything. If people were just guessing, they would be right about one time in four, or 25% of the time.

We have so far conducted more than 800 such trials, and the average success rate is 42%, very significantly above the chance level of 25%, with astronomical odds against chance (1026 to 1).

We have also carried out a series of trials in which two of the four callers were familiar, while the other two were strangers, whose names the participants knew, but whom they had not met. With familiar callers, the success rate was 56 %, highly significant statistically. With strangers it was at the chance level, in agreement with the observation that telepathy typically takes place between people who share emotional or social bonds.

In addition, we have found that these effects do not fall off with distance. Some of our participants were from Australia or New Zealand, and they could identify who was calling just as well as with people down under as with people only a few miles away.


Laboratory studies by parapsychologists have already provided significant statistical evidence for telepathy (well reviewed by Dean Radin in his book The Conscious Universe, Harper, San Francisco, 1997). But most laboratory research has given rather weak effects, probably because most participants and "senders" were strangers to each other, and telepathy normally depends on social bonds.

The results of telephone telepathy experiments give much stronger and more repeatable effects because they involve people who know each other well. I have also found that there are striking telepathic links between nursing mothers and their babies. Likewise, the telepathic reactions of pets to their owners depend on strong social bonds.

I suggest that these bonds are aspects of the fields that link together members of social groups (which I call morphic fields) and which act as channels for the transfer of information between separated members of the group. Telepathy literally means "distant feeling", and typically involves the communication of needs, intentions and distress. Sometimes the telepathic reactions are experienced as feelings, sometimes as visions or the hearing of voices, and sometimes in dreams. Many people and pets have reacted when people they are bonded to have had an accident, or are dying, even if this is happening many miles away.

There is an analogy for this process in quantum physics: if two particles have been part of the same quantum system and are separated in space, they retain a mysterious connectedness. When Einstein first realized this implication of quantum theory, he thought quantum theory must be wrong because it implied what he called a "spooky action at a distance". Experiments have shown that quantum theory is right and Einstein wrong. A change in one separated part of a system can affect another instantaneously. This phenomenon is known as quantum non-locality or non-separability.

Telepathy, like the sense of being stared at, is only paranormal if we define as "normal" the theory that the mind is confined to the brain. But if our minds reach out beyond our brains, just as they seem to, and connect with other minds, just as they seem to, then phenomena like telepathy and the sense of being stared at seem normal. They are not spooky and weird, on the margins of abnormal human psychology, but are part of our biological nature.

Of course, I am not saying that the brain is irrelevant to our understanding of the mind. It is very relevant, and recent advances in brain research have much to tell us. Our minds are centred in our bodies, and in our brains in particular. However, that they are not confined to our brains, but extend beyond them. This extension occurs through the fields of the mind, or mental fields, which exist both within and beyond our brains.

The idea of the extended mind makes better sense of our experience than the mind-in-brain theory. Above all, it liberates us. We are no longer imprisoned within the narrow compass of our skulls, our minds separated and isolated from each other. We are no longer alienated from our bodies, from our environment and from other people. We are interconnected.

© Rupert Sheldrake 2006. Dr. Sheldrake is a biologist and author of "The Sense of Being Stared at, and Other Aspects of the Extended Mind." He is a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, near San Francisco, and Director of the Perrott-Warrick Research Project, funded by Trinity College, Cambridge. He lives in London with his wife, Jill Purce, and their two sons. His web site is The above synopsis is from a talk given by Sheldrake at the September 2006 "Just For The health Of It" Prophets Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
Comment by Bill Meredith on June 25, 2009 at 7:24pm
Real Memory

The general idea with regard to memory is that it depends en-
tirely on the orderly functioning of the physical brain, and that
where derangement of that function occurs, there is loss of
memory. It is quite true that certain forms of memory depend
upon the brain, as in those two particular functions known as
remembrance and recollection. In remembrance, we can get the
idea, but not all the particulars that have brought about some
feeling, event, or circumstance of the past; in recollection, we can
collect back from one point all the other points connected with it.
But there is a third function of the memory, known as reminis-
which is not at all dependent upon the brain. It is brought
into function oftentimes, not by any present object or occurrence
arousing attention in that direction, but as it were, springs direct
from the soul itself. It is a direct perception of what was. It comes
from something behind the brain—the brain serving merely as a
sort of filter, or interceptor, or translator of impressions.

We can understand why remote memories are difficult to recall
to our brain perception, when we consider the fact that the brain
cells are constantly changing. It is not conceivable that the mil-
lions of impressions received during a lifetime could be retained
and given out again by those changing cells. All the time during
our lives there is a continuity of perception, but we do not re-
member one-thousandth part of the impressions that we have re-
ceived in those days or years. Very few events are impressed upon
us, or are immediately translatable through the brain, by way of
remembrance. Even if we so desired, we could never make any
complete history of all those impressions through the faculty of
recollection. Yet there is the innate faculty of recalling and recol-
lecting in such a way as to have consecutive or synthetic grasp
of all those impressions through reminiscence, that faculty of
memory which applies to the soul—is a peculiarly innate quality
of the soul.

To reach into and exercise soul memory, we must first under-
stand the real nature of man. We must first see that all beings of
every grade—not only man, but the beings above man and the
beings below man—are of the same essence, the same Spirit, the
same Life, and of the same potential powers. The higher beings
have brought these potential powers into activity, and differ from
the lower orders by reason of a greater degree of development, a
greater range of perception and a finer evolution of form. But
highest as well as lowest are rays from and one with the Divine
Absolute Principle. Each one is the Seer, the Perceiver, who stands
in the center of his own universe, through which alone we may
know all that may be known of the Highest.

Crosbie, Robert; THE FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, Letters and Talks on Theosophy
and the Theosophical Life; The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles and New York City;
1945; pp 239-240
Comment by Bill Meredith on June 18, 2009 at 4:57pm
"... it is the life we lead that creates the brain we have."

Human beings are only partially understandable when viewed
as the product of material processes. Human beings think, make
judgments, and exert effort on the basis of those judgments and in
so doing change the material aspects of both their inner and outer
worlds in ways that defy the narrow categories of materialist modes
of analysis. Understanding our capacity to systematically alter our
own neurobiology requires welcoming such concepts as choice and
effort into the vocabulary of science. In this new century, questions
about the mind-brain interface will become increasingly important
as we try to understand how humans function in fields ranging
from medicine to economics and political science. Knowing that the
mind can, through knowledge and effort, reshape neurobiological
processes must powerfully inform that effort.

It is the perspective of what we might call biological humanism,
not biological materialism, that fits with the findings of neuroplas-
ticity. It's a mental striving, not a deterministic physical process,
that best describes the clinical data on directed neuroplasticity.
This may seem to be wishful, even reckless, thinking; after all, to
pronounce oneself a skeptic on the subject of biological determin-
ism is to court ridicule, to risk being tarred with the brush of "non-
scientific thinking" or even "New Age nonsense." But it seems to me
that what we have learned about neuroplasticity and, especially,
self-directed neuroplasticity--even this early in our understand-
ing--is that our physical brain alone does not shape our destiny.
How can it, when the experiences we undergo, the choices we
make, and the acts we undertake inscribe a diary on the living mat-
ter of our cortex? The brain continually refines its processing
capacities to meet the challenges we present it, increasing the com-
municative power of neurons and circuits that respond to oft-
received inputs or that are tapped for habitual outputs. It is the
brain's astonishing power to learn and unlearn, to adapt and
change, to carry with it the inscriptions of our experiences, that
allows us to throw off the shackles of biological materialism, for it
is the life we lead that creates the brain we have. Our new under-
standing of the power of mind to shape brain can advance not only
our knowledge, but also our wisdom. Radical attempts to view the
world as a merely material domain, devoid of mind as an active
force, neglect the very powers that define humankind. The reality
of the mind-shaped brain encourages a cultural climate in which
scientific research not only yields advancements in our knowledge,
but also adds to our wisdom as an evolving species. By harnessing
the power of Directed Mental Force we may yet live up to our tax-
onomic desigation and truly become deserving of the name H***

Schwartz, Jeffrey M. M.D. and Begley, Sharon; THE MIND & THE BRAIN,
Neuroplasticity and Power of Mental Force; HarperCollins, New York,
N.Y. 2002; pp372-373
Comment by Bill Meredith on June 13, 2009 at 8:15am
You ask me, "How shall I think upon God himself, and
what is he?" To this I cannot answer you, except to say,
"I don't know."

For with your question you have brought me into that
same darkness and into that same cloud of unknowing that I
want you to be in. For of all other creatures and their works--
yes, and of the works of God himself--a man may through
grace have fullness of knowing, and he can well think upon
them; but upon God himself, no man can think. And therefore
I wish to leave everything I can think, and choose for my love
that thing which I cannot think. Because he may well be
loved, but not thought. By love he may be gotten and held; but
by thinking, never.

--from The Cloud of Unknowing; quoted in THE ESSENSE OF WISDOM,
edited by Stephen Mitchell, Broadway Books, 1998, p35

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