Brian Sullivan

Getting old isn't nearly as bad as people think it will be. Nor is it quite as good.A survey of 2,969 adults by the Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends indicates a sizable gap between the expectations that young and middle-aged adults have about old age and the actual experiences of older Americans..
When asked about the expected challenges of old age older adults report experiencing them at lower levels than younger adults expected when they grow old
However, older adults report experiencing fewer of the benefits of aging that younger adults expect to enjoy when they grow old, such as spending more time with their family, traveling more for pleasure, having more time for hobbies, doing volunteer work or starting a second career.
What does old age mean?
68 –well that was the average answer. However, 18 to 29 year olds believe you are old at 60. Middle-aged respondents say 70, and respondents 65 and say you do not become old until 74.
When asked how old they would like to live too, the average proposed age is 89. Interestingly, a 2002 AARP survey found 92 the desired age.
Nearly two-thirds of 18 to 29 year olds believe that when someone "frequently forgets familiar names," that person is old. Less than half of all adults aged over 30 agree.
All generations agree that failing health, an inability to live independently, an inability to drive, difficulty with stairs are an indicator of old age.

Grow Older, Feel Younger It seem’s you're never too old to feel young. According to the survey, the older people get, the younger they feel--relatively speaking.
Half of 18 to 29 year-olds, feel their age, a quarter say they feel older and another quarter feel younger. By contrast, 60% of over 65’s feel younger than their age, 32% feel exactly their age and just 3% who say they feel older. Infact, the gap between chronological and "felt age" widens widened. Nearly half of over 50’s feel at least 10 years younger than their actual age. A third of 65 to 74 year olds feel 10 to 19 years younger and one-in-six feel at least 20 years younger.
Older people are just as happy as young people. Good health, good friends and financial security--by and large predictor of happiness. The main difference is that older – often widowed – people less often associate happiness with marriage.
Older adults also have a count-my-blessings attitude.45% of over 75’s report turned out better than they expected, while just 5% reported worse.
The Good and Bad's of Getting Old

There are challenges with old age. About a quarter of over 65’s experience memory loss.and about 20% have a serious illness, are not sexually active, or often feel sad or depressed. About one-in-six report they are lonely or have trouble paying bills. One-in-seven cannot drive. One-in-ten say they feel they aren't needed or are a burden to others. With the exception of sexuality, these problems were worse in people with a low income. Sexual challenges were not correlated with income.These figures are far lower than younger adults expected when they are older. However, problems increased in the 80 and beyond age group. Yet the vast majority of over 80’s have made peace with their circumstances. Only 1% of over 85’s report their lives turned out worse than expected.

The best thing about growing old is being able to spend more time with family members. 28% of over 65’s value the chance to spend more time with family, and an additional 25% value time with their grandchildren. Financial security, was a distant third at 14%. As 13% of the US population is over 65 compared with 4% in 1900..By 2050, about one-in-five Americans will be over age 65, and about 5% will be ages 85 and older, up from the present 2%, according to Pew Research projections,The Good News?Shakespeare claimed that in old age we return to childhood and are dependent on our children.It seems 14% of children rely on their over 65 year old parents, while 12% rely on their children.The majority, 58%, state neither relies on the other, and 13% state they rely on one another equally.

Brian Sullivan

When the Four Minute Mile was broken the ultimate human limitation seemed t ohave been surpssed.

“The breaking through that sort of cut the shackles from people and they were able to move on without the inhibitions and without the fears of the past” stated Professor of Sports Studies at Brunel University, Peter Radford, a former 200 metre record holder.

Almost overnight, dozens surpassed it and it is regularly achieved by college students today. What if people had believed it possible earlier? Wht if Roger Banister hadlived 200 years ago?

Two centuries ago people were so convinced it was possible that in 1787, a runner wagered 1,000 guineas he could run the four minute mile.
According to Peter Radford, a time trial was ran in 1787 for backers to assess their risk. For 200 years from 1663 in the reign of Charles II runner ran naked. So, in the successful trial Powell ran the mile totally naked in 'within three seconds of the time' Peter Radford.

“He ran reputedly four minutes exactly, and in those days they were already measuring races to the accuracy of a second.”

Radford admits the time, ran on May 9, 1770, wasn’t recorded, but that it must have been under four minutes because Parrot had an enormous 15 guineas to five wagered on the outcome. That’s about £1,380 to £460 in 2004 values.

Almost all 18th century racers were for wagers, one party against another.
Customarily, each side appointed an umpire and if the umpires disagreed, they appointed a referee whose decision was final.

Men with whips and poles kept the road clear. Starting at Charterhouse Wall in Goswell Road, he turned right and then ran the length of Old Street.

Parrot won the bet.

“And then in 1796, we have a man called Weller who ran two seconds inside four minutes, just outside Oxford and therefore Weller is technically the first sub four-minute miler” said Radford.
'I don't think it's as outrageous as it seems,' said Dr Greg Whyte, head of science and research at the English Institute of Sport. 'Sport back then was much more open than it was when the Victorians came along and they introduced amateur ethics, thus removing the working class and making sport an elitist pastime.'
The Victorians who first codified sports
Before the Amateur Athletic Association controlled of athletics from the 1880’s, men and women of all social classes ran for money throughout England who were ideologically excluded as professionals.
Middle-class runners were tainted as ‘professionals’ and 'far from being good enough to hold their own in professional company' according to J. H. Walsh in British Rural Sports of 1888.
Was a 4 minute mile really possible two centuries ago?
'There is increasing evidence that these athletes from 200 years ago were far better than we have been prepared to give them credit for' Radford said.
As an example, Radford points out that the bows found when the Mary Rose was raised from the ocean are two hard for modern archers to use.
“All sense tells you that it couldn't have been done - how could anyone have done it in the eighteenth century when people are running 60 miles per week today and still can't do it?” said Bob Phillips, author of the book 3:59.4 - The Quest For The Four-Minute Mile.
'The professionals in the nineteenth century rarely ran as fast as they could, mainly to do with money and betting. Once they had the race won they would ease off because they wanted to ensure the odds in the next race,”
Nevertheless, Amateur records were constantly weaker than the professional equivalents. These records, respected at the time, were later ignored.
'”Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were many instances of athletes having run faster than the performances they were credited with,” Bob Phillips said.
However, UK Athletics' performance director for endurance Alan Storey states there was insufficient sports training for these feats to have occured.
'It would have required an extremely talented athlete who was a couple of hundred years ahead of his time in training techniques' he said.
Sport's statistician, Mel Watman, dismisses the claims as folklore. Another issue is whether the tracks were always flat. People have run 3:30 running downhill.
There are also modern, unverified stories.
In the 1987 British Medical Journal, Dr John Ethridge claimed that Glen Cunningham ran 3:56 and 3:52.2 training sessions in the 1930’s.
Edward Seldon Sears repeats claims that Jack Lovelock, Glenn Cunningham and Bill Bonthron ran c 4:08 in practice in the book ‘Running Through the Ages.’

Of course, there are remarkable, verifiable times from Irishman J. Heaviside ran just under 4:30 in 1861 to Gunder Haegg running 4.01.3 in 1945.

We do know that Roger Bannister was the first amateur to run a verified four minute mile under the standardized conditions established by Amateur athletics in the 1880’s.

Interestingly, on April 7, 1954, a month before Bannister's historic run, Ken Wood ran a mile in 3:59.2 in practice.

"When I was told I had run it in three minutes and 59.2 seconds, I thought it was good and just carried on” said Wood. he knew it meant nothing

As Bannister himself said "There are certain conditions that are necessary for claiming records and these relate to track measurements and checking of tracks and, of course, having the requisite number of stopwatches."

So would have athletes run faster if they believed it possible?
In the 1930’s Glen Cunningham believed he had run 3:58.9. He never duplicated it on the track.

Years later, his coach admitted he had deducted 30 seconds from his 4:28.9 time as a psychological ploy.

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Brian Sullivan

Synesthesia is an intriguing condition where people experience the world differently.

The common phrase “1 see what you’re saying” is literally true for synaesthetes who may feel a taste or see a colour. Perhaps watching Walt Disney’s Fantasia where music is visualized may help you appreciate their experience.

“Far from being a mere curiosity, synesthesia is a consciously elevated form of the perception that everyone already has. Minds that function differently are not so strange after all, and everyone can learn from them” stated neurologist Dr Richard E. Cytowic author of 'The man Who Tasted Shapes: A Bizarre Medical Mystery Offers Revolutionary Insights into Emotions, Reasoning, and Consciousness.

How does this relate to Kabbalah?

Kabbalist’s analyze every nuance of scripture, noting the linguistic similarities, masculine and feminine qualities of words and describe a map of our infinite reality.
Intriguingly, the Torah describes a case of national synesthesia.

Exodus 20:15 (v18 Christian Bibles) describes Israel receiving the 10 Commandments when “the people saw the sounds”. Hassidic philosophy states that in a heightened spiritual state, such as hearing G-d speak from a mountain, the souls capabilities flow through all the senses of the body.

To understand the Kabbalistic model, imagine an umbilical chord connecting you to the Infinite Light of God (Hebrew, Ohr Ein Sof). This is your neshama or divine soul channels the 10 divine energies between you and the Ein Sof. This is the level to which our souls aspire.

Between you and the Ein Sof are an infinite number of worlds (Heb. olamot) that repeat a pattern of 10 energies with varying intensities that broadly group into four levels.

These energies were manifested by the 10 statements that made the universe in Genesis 1, and the 10 commandments that are the foundation of Jewish life. Life’s infinite complexity came from Gods utterances and the 613 Jewish laws extrapolate from the 10 commandments.

The first world, the realm of our subconscious, called Atzilut, is closest and almost indistinguishable from the Ein Sof. Next is Beriya, the realm of the mind, where the three mental sefirot predominate. Next is the world of emotion, Yetzira, followed by Assiya, the actualized world we inhabit.

Just as the atom is a microsm of the universe, the universe, the spiritual and psychological realms repeat the same laws and patterns. So everything is within man.

The sefirot are disembodied mind and emotion called seichel, the 3 mental energies and middot, the 7 emotional energies. All these qualities link all levels of creation through the language of branches.

Psychologically, seichel manifests through our brain and includes chochmah, the masculine unformed creative spark, that the more feminine binah (understanding) cogently shapes and births through da’at, the type of knowledge that comes when you try to explain something and it gels, connecting the mind and heart. These mental qualities are more masculine when compared to the feminine emotions. These qualities are known by the acronym CHaBaD.

Just as there are 7 colours of the rainbow there are 7 emotional qualities that colour our life.
The emotional middot , or CHaGaT, are expressed externally and externally. Chesed (loving kindness) is an expansive giving, with full unlimited awareness. This is balanced by the limiting focus of geruvah, that empowers like a magnifying glass. Tiferet (beauty) unifies these with the strength of compassion.

The external emotion, called NeHeY, that predominates in Yetzira, include Netzach (Victory), that victoriously crosses the chasm between you and others. This is balanced by Hod (empathy),that allows us create our own inner space. This allows you to balance netzach so that you do not emotionally overwhelm others. Yesod (foundation) allows us to focus mind and emotion in a relationship.

Although the emotions are more feminine than the mind, the first six emotions are masculine when compared to the seventh quality Malchut. These compare to the six active masculine work days. The seventh day, the Sabbath is feminine and sacred. Just a a person rests on Sabbath to receive from God, the quality of Malchut rules the week as a queen receiving the intersecting qualities of the mind and heart.

Malchut takes these qualities and actualizes them in our lives, the world of Assiya.
All these qualities are in a fine, but shifting balance. Through Kabbalah, we begin to understand the divine qualities in our lives.

We cannot look at God directly, yet, with systematic introspection, we can perceive the artistic expression of the creator within. When we blossom our creative spark through Binah, we learn to refine our qualities and partner in completing the artwork of G-d.

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Brian Sullivan

Genesis 1
Revised Reality Version

What do you think? Do you think this translation would have prevented conflict between religion and science? Or would it only add to the confusion as science learns more?

Personally I think he has a point - and, well I also think he has an over simplified bias.
But thats my opinion.

What's yours?

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Brian Sullivan

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Perceiving Reality: Human Nature

Humanity is actually one creature containing the whole of creation that experiences itself in relation to an upper force called the Creator.

All that exists in reality is the Creator – the will to bestow, and the creature – the will to receive: the opposite side of the same force. The creature, is called the first or primary man, Adam HaRishon - or the collective soul. This is our actual state but we’ve lost all sense of it.

So this is our true nature and it’s becoming more and more apparent as the force of development is beginning to push us towards an awakening. Our economies have become so globalized that the existence of each nation requires the success of all nations. We are so interdependent that even small regional wars and acts of terrorism affect everyone. Borders are becoming irrelevant. And on the internet, a force potentially connecting the thoughts of people everywhere, we see that private property is an impossibility. Anything we digitize and put on the internet immediately belongs to everyone. The future looks so different and confusing now because we don’t know how to live in the new kind of world that we see appearing before us…

So where was I… oh yeah...

The Creator, created the creature - humanity only in order to raise it to its highest possible degree – that of the Creator. But that couldn’t happen all at once. So because the creature was made only of the desire to receive it began to experience itself as if it were just one of millions of creatures, detached and isolated by time and space in a reality called “this world” where it imagines it receives just for itself.

According to Kabbalah this is called the fall of Adam, his shattering into 600,000 parts – which means the beginning of a process by which the properties of the Creator and the creature became intermingled, - small desires to receive mixed up with small desires to bestow, small enough so that the creature could independently choose to correct them to realize that regardless of how it appears to us, the only thing we actually feel in our will to receive is the Creator’s will to bestow.

Each and every creature must go through that process of correction in a conscious, awakened way because only this direct sensation raises it above its nature to reconnect all the parts of the original Adam through love. In other words the well being of others is actually felt as my own. – this is the true nature of humanity, the quality of the Creator and meaning of what we call spirituality.

Spirituality is not a personal pursuit. Only the reconnected creature can reach the level of the Creator.

And this is the state that nature is now bringing us to.

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Brian Sullivan

Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.
- Chogyam Trungpa

Meditation research by Sara Lazar has demonstrated the Brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing were thicker in meditators. The researchers use neuroimaging techniques to study neurological, cognitive and emotional changes associated with the practice of meditation and yoga. We also incorporate measures of peripheral physiology in order to understand how meditation practice influences the brain-body interaction. This work is funded by grants from NIH-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the CDC.

Previous research indicates that long-term meditation practice is associated with altered resting electroencephalogram patterns, suggestive of long lasting changes in brain activity. We hypothesized that meditation practice might also be associated with changes in the brain's physical structure. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess cortical thickness in 20 participants with extensive Insight meditation experience, which involves focused attention to internal experiences. Brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing were thicker in meditation participants than matched controls, including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula. Between-group differences in prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning. Finally, the thickness of two regions correlated with meditation experience. These data provide the first structural evidence for experience-dependent cortical plasticity associated with meditation practice.

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Brian Sullivan

Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

Well, as Chris pointed out, I study the human brain -- the functions and structure of the human brain. And I just want you to think for a minute about what this entails. Here is this mass of jelly -- three pound mass of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand, and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space. It can contemplate the meaning of infinity and it can contemplate itself contemplating on the meaning of infinity. And this peculiar recursive quality that we call self-awareness, which I think is the Holy Grail of neuroscience, of neurology, and hopefully, someday, we'll understand how that happens.

OK, so how do you study this mysterious organ? I mean you have 100 billion nerve cells, little wisps of protoplasm, interacting with each other, and from this activity emerges the whole spectrum of abilities that we call human nature and human consciousness. How does this happen? Well, there are many ways of approaching the functions of the human brain. One approach, the one we use mainly, is to look at patients with sustained damage to a small region of the brain, where there's been a genetic change in a small region of the brain. What then happens is not an across-the-board reduction in all your mental capacities, a sort of blunting of your cognitive ability. What you get is a highly selective loss of one function with other functions being preserved intact, and this gives you some confidence in asserting that that part of the brain is somehow involved in mediating that function. So you can then map function onto structure, and then find out what the circuitry's doing to generate that particular function. So that's what we're trying to do.

So let me give you a few striking examples of this. In fact, I'm giving you three examples, six minutes each, during this talk. The first example is an extraordinary syndrome called Capgras syndrome. If you look at the first slide there, that's the temporal lobes, frontal lobes, parietal lobes, OK -- the lobes that constitute the brain. And if you look, tucked away inside the inner surface of the temporal lobes -- you can't see it there -- is a little structure called the fusiform gyrus. And that's been called the face area in the brain because when it's damaged, you can no longer recognize people's faces. You can still recognize them from their voice and say, oh yeah, that's Joe, but you can't look at their face and know who it is, right? You can't even recognize yourself in the mirror. I mean, you know it's you because you wink and it winks, and you know it's a mirror, but you don't really recognize yourself as yourself.

OK. Now that syndrome is well known as caused by damage to the fusiform gyrus. But there's another rare syndrome, so rare, in fact, that very few physicians have heard about it, not even neurologists. This is called the Capgras delusion, and that is a patient who's otherwise completely normal has had a head injury, comes out of coma, otherwise completely normal, he looks at his mother and says, "This looks exactly like my mother, this woman, but she's an impostor -- she's some other woman pretending to be my mother." Now, why does this happen? Why would somebody -- and this person is perfectly lucid and intelligent in all other respects, but when he sees his mother, his delusion kicks in and says it's not mother.

Now, the most common interpretation of this, which you find in all the psychiatry text books, is a Freudian view, and that is that this chap -- and the same argument applies to women by the way, but I'll just talk about guys -- when you're a little baby, a young baby, you had a strong sexual attraction to your mother. This is the so-called Oedipus complex of Freud. I'm not saying I believe this, but this is the standard Freudian view. And then as you grow up, the cortex develops, and inhibits these latent sexual urges towards your mother. Thank God, or you would all be sexually aroused when you saw your mother. And then what happens is, there's a blow to your head, damaging the cortex, allowing these latent sexual urges to emerge, flaming to the surface, and suddenly and inexplicably you find yourself being sexually aroused by your mother. And you say, "My God, if this is my mom, how come I'm being sexually turned on? She's some other woman. She's an impostor." It's the only interpretation that makes sense to your damaged brain.

This has never made much sense to me, this argument. It's very ingenious, as all Freudian arguments are -- (Laughter) -- but didn't make much sense because I have seen the same delusion, a patient having the same delusion about his pet poodle. (Laughter) He'll say, "Doctor, this is not Fifi, it looks exactly like Fifi, but it's some other dog." Right? Now, you try using the Freudian explanation there. (Laughter) You'll start talking about the latent bestiality in all humans, or some such thing, which is quite absurd of course.

Now, what's really going on? So to explain this curious disorder, we look at the structure and functions of the normal visual pathways in the brain. Normally, visual signals come in, into the eyeballs, go to the visual areas in the brain. There are in fact 30 areas in the back of your brain concerned with just vision, and after processing all that, the message goes to a small structure called the fusiform gyrus, where you perceive faces. There are neurons there that are sensitive to faces. You can call it the face area of the brain, right? I talked about that earlier. Now, when that area's damaged, you lose the ability to see faces, right?

But from that area, the message cascades into a structure called the amygdala in the limbic system, the emotional core of the brain, and that structure, called the amygdala, gauges the emotional significance of what you're looking at. Is it prey? Is it predator? Is it mate? Or is it something absolutely trivial, like a piece of lint, or a piece of chalk, or a -- I don't want to point to that but -- or a shoe, or something like that? OK? Which you can completely ignore. So if the amygdala is excited, and this is something important, the messages then cascade into the autonomic nervous system. Your heart starts beating faster, you start sweating to dissipate the heat that you're going to exert -- create from muscular exertion. And that's fortunate, because we can put two electrodes on your palm and measure the change in skin resistance produced by sweating. So I can determine, when you're looking at something, whether you're excited or whether you're aroused or not, OK? And I'll get to that in a minute.

So my idea was, when this chap looks at an object, when he looks at his -- any object for that matter, it goes to the visual areas and -- however, and it's processed in the fusiform gyrus, and you recognize it as a pea plant, or a table, or your mother for that matter, OK? And then the message cascades into the amygdala, and then goes down the autonomic nervous system. But maybe in this chap, that wire that goes from the amygdala to the limbic system -- the emotional core of the brain -- is cut by the accident. So because the fusiform is intact, the chap can still recognize his mother, and says, "Oh yeah, this looks like my mother." But because the wire is cut to the emotional centers, he says, "But how come, if it's my mother, I don't experience a warmth?" Or terror, as the case may be? Right? (Laughter) And therefore, he says, "How do I account for this inexplicable lack of emotions? This can't be my mother. It's some strange woman pretending to be my mother."

How do you test this? Well, what you do is, if you take any one of you here, and put you in front of a screen, and measure your galvanic skin response, and show pictures on the screen, I can measure how you sweat when you see an object, like a table or an umbrella -- of course, you don't sweat. If I show you a picture of a lion, or a tiger, or a pin-up, you start sweating, right? And, believe it or not, if I show you a picture of your mother -- I'm talking about normal people -- you start sweating. You don't even have to be Jewish. (Laughter)

Now, what happens -- what happens if you show this patient? You take the patient and show him pictures on the screen and measure his galvanic skin response. Tables and chairs and lint, nothing happens, as in normal people, but when you show him a picture of his mother, the galvanic skin response is flat. There's no emotional reaction to his mother because that wire going from the visual areas to the emotional centers is cut. So his vision is normal because the visual areas are normal, his emotions are normal -- he'll laugh, he'll cry, so on and so forth -- but the wire from vision to emotions is cut and therefore he has this delusion that his mother is an impostor. It's a lovely example of the sort of thing we do, take a bizarre, seemingly incomprehensible, neural psychiatric syndrome and say that the standard Freudian view is wrong, that in fact you can come up with a precise explanation in terms of the known neural anatomy of the brain.

By the way, if this patient then goes, and mother phones from an adjacent room -- phones him -- and he picks up the phone, and he says, "Wow, Mom, how are you? Where are you?" There's no delusion through the phone. Then she approaches him after an hour, he says, "Who are you? You look just like my mother." OK? The reason is there's a separate pathway going from the hearing centers in the brain to the emotional centers, and that's not been cut by the accident. So this explains why through the phone he recognizes his mother, no problem. When he sees her in person, he says it's an impostor.

OK, how is all this complex circuitry set up in the brain? Is it nature, genes, or is it nurture? And we approach this problem by considering another curious syndrome called phantom limb. And you all know what a phantom limb is. When an arm is amputated, or a leg is amputated, for gangrene, or you lose it in war, for example, in the Iraq war -- it's now a serious problem -- you continue to vividly feel the presence of that missing arm, and that's called a phantom arm or a phantom leg. In fact, you can get a phantom with almost any part of the body. Believe it or not, even with internal viscera. I've had patients with the uterus removed -- hysterectomy -- who have a phantom uterus, including phantom menstrual cramps at the appropriate time of the month. And in fact, one student asked me the other day, do they get phantom PMS? (Laughter) A subject ripe for scientific enquiry, but we haven't pursued that.

OK, now the next question is, what can you learn about phantom limbs by doing experiments? One of the things we've found was, about half the patients with phantom limbs claim that they can move the phantom. It'll pat his brother on the shoulder, it'll answer the phone when it rings, it'll wave goodbye. These are very compelling, vivid sensations. The patient's not delusional. He knows that the arm is not there but, nevertheless, it's a compelling sensory experience for the patient. But however, about half the patients, this doesn't happen. The phantom limb -- they'll say, "But Doctor, the phantom limb is paralyzed. It's fixed in a clenched spasm and it's excruciatingly painful. If only I could move it, maybe the pain will be relieved.

Now, why would a phantom limb be paralyzed? It sounds like an oxymoron. But when we were looking at the case sheets, what we found was, these people with the paralyzed phantom limbs, the original arm was paralyzed because of the peripheral nerve injury, the actual nerve supplying the arm was severed, was cut, by say, a motorcycle accident. So the patient had an actual arm, which is painful, in a sling for a few months, or a year, and then in a misguided attempt to get rid of the pain in the arm, the surgeon amputates the arm, and then you get a phantom arm with the same pains, right? And this is a serious clinical problem. Patients become depressed. Some of them are driven to suicide, OK?

So how do you treat this syndrome? Now why do you get a paralyzed phantom limb? When I looked at the case sheet I found that they had an actual arm, and the nerves supplying the arm had been cut, and the actual arm had been paralyzed, and lying in a sling for several months before the amputation, and this pain then gets carried over into the phantom itself.

Why does this happen? When the arm was intact, but paralyzed, the brain sends commands to the arm, the front of the brain, saying "Move," but it's getting visual feedback saying "No." Move. No. Move. No. Move. No. And this gets wired into the circuitry of the brain, and we call this learned paralysis, OK? The brain learns, because of this Hebbian associative link, that the mere command to move the arm creates a sensation of a paralyzed arm, and then, when you've amputated the arm, this learned paralysis carries over into the -- into your body image and into your phantom, OK?

Now, how do you help these patients? How do you unlearn the learned paralysis so you can relieve him of this excruciating, clenching spasm of the phantom arm? Well, we said, what if you now send the command to the phantom, but give him visual feedback that it's obeying his command, right? Maybe you can relieve the phantom pain, the phantom cramp. How do you do that? Well, virtual reality. But that costs millions of dollars. So I hit on a way of doing this for three dollars, but don't tell my funding agencies. (Laughter)

OK? What you do is you create what I call a mirror box. You have a cardboard box with a mirror in the middle, and then you put the phantom -- so my first patient, Derek, came in. He had his arm amputated 10 years ago. He had a brachial avulsion, so the nerves were cut and the arm was paralyzed, lying in a sling for a year, and then the arm was amputated. He had a phantom arm, excruciatingly painful, and he couldn't move it. It was a paralyzed phantom arm.

So he came there, and I gave him a mirror like that, in a box, which I call a mirror box, right? And the patient puts his phantom left arm, which is clenched and in spasm, on the left side of the mirror, and the normal hand on the right side of the mirror, and makes the same posture, the clenched posture, and looks inside the mirror, and what does he experience? He looks at the phantom being resurrected, because he's looking at the reflection of the normal arm in the mirror, and it looks like this phantom has been resurrected. "Now," I said, "now look, wiggle your phantom -- your real fingers, or move your real fingers while looking in the mirror." He's going to get the visual impression that the phantom is moving, right? That's obvious, but the astonishing thing is, the patient then says, "Oh my God, my phantom is moving again, and the pain, the clenching spasm, is relieved."

And remember, my first patient who came in -- (Applause) -- thank you. (Applause) My first patient came in, and he looked in the mirror, and I said, "Look at your reflection of your phantom." And he started giggling, he says, "I can see my phantom." But he's not stupid. He knows it's not real. He knows it's a mirror reflection, but it's a vivid sensory experience. Now, I said, "Move your normal hand and phantom." He said, "Oh, I can't move my phantom. You know that. It's painful." I said, "Move your normal hand." And he says, "Oh my God, my phantom is moving again, I don't believe this! And my pain is being relieved." OK? And then I said, "Close your eyes." He closes his eyes. "And move your normal hand." "Oh, nothing -- it's clenched again." "OK, open your eyes." "Oh my God, oh my God, it's moving again!" So he was like a kid in a candy store.

So I said, OK, this proves my theory about learned paralysis and the critical role of visual input, but I'm not going to get a Nobel Prize for getting somebody to move his phantom limb. (Laughter) (Applause) It's a completely useless ability, if you think about it. (Laughter) But then I started realizing, maybe other kinds of paralysis that you see in neurology, like stroke, focal dystonias -- there may be a learned component to this which you can overcome with the simple device of using a mirror.

So I said, "Look, Derek" -- well, first of all, the guy can't just go around carrying a mirror to alleviate his pain -- I said, "Look, Derek, take it home and practice with it for a week or two. Maybe, after a period of practice, you can dispense with the mirror, unlearn the paralysis and start moving your paralyzed arm, and then relieve yourself of pain." So he said OK, and he took it home. I said, "Look, it's after all, two dollars. Take it home."

So he took it home, and after two weeks he phones me, and he said, "Doctor, you're not going to believe this." I said, "What?" He said, "It's gone." I said, "What's gone?" I thought maybe the mirror box was gone. (Laughter) He said, "No, no, no, you know this phantom I've had for the last 10 years? It's disappeared." And I said -- I got worried, I said, my God, I mean I've changed this guy's body image, what about human subjects, ethics, and all of that? And I said, "Derek, does this bother you?" He said "No, last three days I've not had a phantom arm and therefore no phantom elbow pain, no clenching, no phantom forearm pain, all those pains are gone away. But the problem is I still have my phantom fingers dangling from the shoulder, and your box doesn't reach." (Laughter) "So can you change the design and put it on my forehead so I can, you know, do this and eliminate my phantom fingers?" He thought I was some kind of magician.

Now why does this happen? It's because the brain is faced with tremendous sensory conflict. It's getting messages from vision saying the phantom is back. On the other hand, there's no appropriate reception, muscle signals saying that there is no arm, right? And your motor command saying there is an arm, and because of this conflict, the brain says, to hell with it, there is no phantom, there is no arm, right? It goes into a sort of denial -- negates the signals. And when the arm disappears, the bonus is the pain disappears because you can't have disembodied pain floating out there, in space. So that's the bonus.

Now, this technique has been tried on dozens of patients by other groups in Helsinki, so it may prove to be valuable as a treatment for phantom pain, and indeed, people have tried it for stroke rehabilitation. Stroke, you normally think of as damage to the fibers, nothing you can do about it. But, it turns out some component of stroke paralysis is also learned paralysis, and maybe that component can be overcome using mirrors. This has also gone through clinical trials, helping lots and lots of patients.

OK, let me switch gears now to the third part of my talk, which is about another curious phenomenon called synaesthesia. This was discovered by Francis Galton in the 19th century. He was a cousin of Charles Darwin. He pointed out that certain people in the population, who are otherwise completely normal, had the following peculiarity -- every time they see a number it's colored. Five is blue, seven is yellow, eight is chartreuse, nine is indigo, OK? Bear in mind, these people are completely normal in other respects. Or C sharp. Sometimes tones evoke color. C sharp is blue, F sharp is green, another tone might be yellow, right?

Why does this happen? This is called synaesthesia -- Galton called it synaesthesia, a mingling of the senses. In us, all the senses are distinct. These people muddle up their senses. Why does this happen? One of the two aspects of this problem are very intriguing. Synaesthesia runs in families, so Galton said this is a hereditary basis, a genetic basis. Secondly, synaesthesia is about -- and this is what gets me to my point about the main theme of this lecture, which is about creativity -- synaesthesia is eight times more common among artists, poets, novelists and other creative people than in the general population. Why would that be? I'm going to answer that question. It's never been answered before.

OK, what is synaesthesia? What causes it? Well, there are many theories. One theory is they're just crazy. Now that's not really a scientific theory so we can forget about it. Another theory is they are acid junkies and potheads, right? Now, there may be some truth to this because it's much more common here in the Bay Area than in San Diego. (Laughter) OK. Now, the third theory is that -- well, let's ask ourselves what's really going on in synaesthesia? All right?

So we found that the color area and the number area are right next to each other in the brain, in the fusiform gyrus. So we said there's some accidental cross-wiring between color and numbers in the brain. So every time you see a number, you see a corresponding color, and that's why you get synaesthesia. Now remember -- why does this happen? Why would there be crossed wires in some people? Remember I said it runs in families? That gives you the clue. And that is there is an abnormal gene, a mutation in the gene, that causes this abnormal cross-wiring.

In all of us, it turns out, we are born with everything wired to everything else. So every brain region is wired to every other region, and these are trimmed down to create the characteristic modular architecture of the adult brain. So if there's a gene causing this trimming, and if that gene mutates, then you get deficient trimming between adjacent brain areas, and if it's between number and color, you get number-color synaesthesia. If it's between tone and color, you get tone-color synaesthesia. So far, so good.

Now what if this gene is expressed everywhere in the brain, so everything is cross-connected? Well, think about what artists, novelists and poets have in common, the ability to engage in metaphorical thinking, linking seemingly unrelated ideas, such as, "it is the East, and Juliet is the Sun." Well, you don't say Juliet is the sun -- does that mean she's a glowing ball of fire? I mean, schizophrenics do that, but it's a different story, right? Normal people say she's warm like the sun, she's radiant like the sun, she's nurturing like the sun. Instantly you've found the links.

Now, if you assume that this greater cross-wiring and concepts are also in different parts of the brain, then it's going to create a greater propensity towards metaphorical thinking and creativity in people with synaesthesia. And, hence, the eight times more common incidence of synaesthesia among poets, artists and novelists. OK -- it's a very phrenological view of synaesthesia. The last demonstration -- can I take one minute? (Applause)

OK. I'm going to show you that you're all synaesthetes, but you're in denial about it. Here's what I call Martian alphabet, just like your alphabet, A is A, B is B, C is C, different shapes for different phonemes, right? Here you've got Martian alphabet. One of them is Kiki, one of them is Buba. Which one is Kiki and which one is Buba? How many of you think that's Kiki and that's Buba? Raise your hands. Well, it's one or two mutants. (Laughter) How many of you think that's Buba, that's Kiki? Raise your hands. 99 percent of you.

Now, none of you is Martian, how did you do that? It's because you're all doing a cross-model -- synaesthetic abstraction -- meaning, you're saying that that sharp inflection, Kiki, in your auditory cortex, the hair cells being excited, Kiki, mimics the visual inflection -- sudden inflection -- of that jagged shape. Now this is very important, because what it's telling you is your brain is engaging in a primitive -- it's just -- it looks like a silly illusion, but these photons in your eye are doing this shape, and hair cells in your ear are exciting the auditory pattern, but the brain is able to extract the common denominator. It's a primitive form of abstraction, and we now know this happens in the fusiform gyrus of the brain because when that's damaged, these people lose the ability to engage in Buba Kiki, but they also lose the ability to engage in metaphor.

If you ask this guy, what "All that glitters is not gold," what does that mean?" The patient says, "Well if it's metallic and shiny, it doesn't mean it's gold. You have to measure its specific gravity, OK? So they completely miss the metaphorical meaning. So this area is about eight times the size in higher -- especially in humans, as in lower primates. Something very interesting is going on here in the angular gyrus, because it's the crossroads between hearing, vision and touch, and it became enormous in humans -- and something very interesting is going on. And I think it's a basis of many uniquely human abilities like abstraction, metaphor and creativity. All of these questions that philosophers have been studying for millennia, we scientists can begin to explore by doing brain imaging, and by studying patients and asking the right questions. Thank you. (Applause) Sorry about that. (Laughter)

Ramachandran is the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. He is the author of Phantoms in the Brain, the basis for a Nova special, and A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness; his next book, due out in January 2008, is called The Man with the Phantom Twin: Adventures in the Neuroscience of the Human Brain

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Brian Sullivan

A reminder that adults can recreate our past. Potentially for both good and bad.

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A story of how we were once connected, and then how we grew separated from our increasing egoism, and that now it is time to connect back together again.

What would the world be like if we could truly sense the connections between us? Spirituality should help refine our ability to percieve our inner onemess. Tragically religion is often lost in the erotic charge of nationalism.

I use the word erotic dleiberately. The Greek word for erotic love was also used for patriotism. Intense, short term and occassionally damaging. Yet like the love of a couple it is the abiding little treads hidden in the garment that bind, not just a few big dramatic knots.
Let's hope that mankind can stop and look within and find the underlying energy that unifies all things.

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The essence of this talkof the address given by Mr. Goenka on Tuesday, 29 August 2000 in the United Nations General Assembly Hall to the participants of the Millennium World Peace Summit is given below:.

When there is darkness, light is needed. Today, with so much agony caused by violent conflict, war and bloodshed, the world badly needs peace and harmony. This is a great challenge for religious and spiritual leaders. Let us accept this challenge.

Every religion has an outer form or shell, and an inner essence or core. The outer shell consists of rites, rituals, ceremonies, beliefs, myths and doctrines. These vary from one religion to another. But there is an inner core common to all religions: the universal teachings of morality and charity, of a disciplined and pure mind full of love, compassion, goodwill and tolerance. It is this common denominator that religious leaders ought to emphasize, and that religious adherents ought to practice. If proper importance is given to the essence of all religions and greater tolerance is shown for their superficial aspects, conflict can be minimized.

All persons must be free to profess and follow their faith. In doing so, however, they must be careful not to neglect the practice of the essence of their religion, not to disturb others by their own religious practices, and not to condemn or belittle other faiths.

Given the diversity of faiths, how do we surmount the differences and achieve a concrete plan for peace? The Buddha, the Enlightened One, was often approached by people of different views. To them he would say, "Let us set aside our differences. Let us give attention to what we can agree on, and let us put it into practice. Why quarrel?" That wise counsel still retains its worth today.

I come from an ancient land that has given rise to many different schools of philosophy and spirituality over the millennia. Despite isolated instances of violence, my country has been a model of peaceful co-existence. Some 2300 years ago it was ruled by Ashoka the Great, whose empire extended from present-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. Throughout his realm, this compassionate ruler caused edicts to be inscribed on stone, proclaiming that all faiths should be respected; and as a result, followers of all spiritual traditions felt secure under his sway. He asked people to live a moral life, to respect parents and elders, and to abstain from killing. The words in which he exhorted his subjects are still relevant today:

One should not honor only one's own religion and condemn other religions. Instead, one should honor other religions for various reasons. By so doing one helps one's own religion to grow and also renders service to the religions of others. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one's own religion and harms other religions as well. Someone who honors his own religion and condemns other religions may do so out of devotionto his religion, thinking, 'I will glorify my religion'; but his actions injure his own religion more gravely. Concord is good. Let all listen and be willing to listen to the doctrines professed by others. (Rock Edict12)

Emperor Ashoka represents a glorious tradition of tolerant co-existence and peaceful synthesis. That tradition lives on among governments and rulers today. An example is the noble monarch of Oman, who has donated land for churches and temples of other faiths while practicing his own religion with all devotion and diligence. I am sure that such compassionate rulers and governments will continue to arise in future in many lands around the world. As it is said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

It is all too clear that the votaries of violence primarily hurt their own kith and kin. They may do so directly, through their intolerance, or indirectly, by provoking a violent response to their actions. On the other hand, it is said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." This is the law of nature. It may equally be called the decree or way of God. The Buddha said, "Animosity can be eradicated not by animosity but only by its opposite. This is an eternal Dharma [spiritual law]." What is called Dharma in India has nothing to do with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism or any other "ism". It is this simple truth: before you harm others, you first harm yourself by generating mental negativity; and by removing the negativity, you can find peace within and strengthen peace in the world.

Peace of Mind For World Peace

Every religion worthy of the name calls on its followers to live a moral and ethical way of life, to attain mastery over the mind and to cultivate purity of heart. One tradition tells us, "Love thy neighbor"; another says, Salaam walekum - "May peace be with you"; still another says, Bhavatu sabbamangalam or Sarve bhavantu sukhinah - "May all beings be happy." Whether it is the Bible, the Koran or the Gita, the scriptures call for peace and amity. From Mahavir to Jesus, all great founders of religions have been ideals of tolerance and peace. Yet our world is often driven by religious and sectarian strife, or even war - because we give importance only to the outer shell of religion and neglect its essence. The result is a lack oflove and compassion in the mind.

Peace in the world cannot be achieved unless there is peace within individuals. Agitation and peace cannot co-exist. One way to achieve inner peace is Vipassana or insight meditation - a non-sectarian, scientific, results-oriented technique of self-observation and truth realization. Practice of this technique brings experiential understanding of how mind and body interact. Everytime negativity arises in the mind, such as hatred, it triggers unpleasant sensations within the body. Every time the mind generates selfless love, compassion and good will, the entire body is flooded with pleasant sensations. Practice of Vipassana also reveals that mental action precedes every physical and vocal action, determining whether that action will be wholesome or unwholesome. Mind matters most. That is why we must find practical methods to make the mind peaceful and pure. Such methods will amplify the effectiveness of the joint declaration emerging from this World Peace Summit.

Ancient India gave two practices to the world. One is the physical exercise of yoga postures (Asanas) and breath control (Pranayama) for keeping the body healthy. The other is the mental exercise of Vipassana for keeping the mind healthy. People of any faith can and do practice both these methods. At the same time, they may follow their own religions in peace and harmony; there is no necessity for conversion, a common source of tension and conflict.

For society to be peaceful, more and more members of society must be peaceful. As leaders, we have a responsibility to set an example, to be an inspiration. A sage once said, "A balanced mind is necessary to balance the unbalanced mind of others."

More broadly, a peaceful society will find a way to live in peace with its natural setting. We all understand the need to protect the environment, to stop polluting it. What prevents us from acting on this understanding is the stock of mental pollutants, such as ignorance, cruelty or greed. Removing such pollutants will promote peace among human beings, as well as a balanced, healthy relationship between human society and its natural environment. This is how religion can foster environmental protection.
Non-Violence: the Key to a Definition of Religion

There are bound to be differences between religions. However, by gathering at this World Peace Summit, leaders of all the major faiths have shown that they want to work for peace. Let peace then be the first principle of "universal religion". Let us declare together that we shall abstain from killing, that we condemn violence. I also urge political leaders to join in this declaration, given the key role they play in bringing either peace or war. Whether or not they join us, at least let us all make avow here and now: instead of condoning violence and killing, let us declare that we unconditionally condemn such deeds, especially violence perpetrated in the name of religion.

Certain spiritual leaders have had the sagacity and courage to condemn violence committed in the name of their own faith. There may be different philosophical and theological views of the act of seeking forgiveness or regretting past violence and killing; but the very acknowledgment of violence performed in the past implies that it was wrong and that it will not be condoned in future.

Under the aegis of the United Nations, let us try to formulate a definition of religion and spirituality highlighting non-violence, and refusing to countenance violence or killing. There would be no greater misfortune for humanity than a failure to define religion as synonymous with peace. This Summit could propose a concept of "universal religion" or "non-sectarian spirituality", for endorsement by the U.N.

I am sure that this Summit will help focus the world's attention on the true purpose of religion:

Religion sets us not apart;
it teaches peace and purity of heart.

I congratulate the organizers of this historic Summit for their vision and efforts. And I congratulate the religious and spiritual leaders who have had the maturity to work for reconciliation, giving hope to humanity that religion and spirituality will lead to a peaceful future.

May all beings be free from aversion and be happy.

May peace and harmony prevail.

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Writer Philip Gardiner claims that the Temple of Solomon was in fact really a temple to all the worlds deities and that its message is to return to a balance of universal feminine energies symbolized by the snake cults of the past.
He advocates the reclaiming of the esoteric experience of the divinity within us and attempts to take us on a journey through the secret societies of the past in search of an underlying message.
His first step is the mystery cult known as the Gnostics – a group seen as heretical to Christianity and alluded too in the New Testament. Gardiner alleges that orthodox history, written by the victors, distorts the original history of Judaism and Christianity.
Rather, the revealed original truth is described as a multilayered expression of our existential world.
He points to the legend that St Patrick removed all the snakes from Ireland explaining that there were no snakes to begin with, but rather a snake cult was removed from the lanf by Patrick's missionary activity.
Gardiner claims this serpent image, as expressed by the Hindu Kundalini, is an androgenous female creative element that formed life without a male principle, an axis mundi passing through hell, earth of heaven in perpetual copulation through the three realms. Certainly, the snake represents rebirth, death and mortality, due to its casting of its skin and being symbolically "reborn" in many religions.
The macrocosmic solar system is reflected in the mini solar system of the nucleus and the outer reality a reflection of the inner world.
This Christ of the Gospel , according to Gardiner, is not historical, but rather a truth inside of us - a type of archetype.

Quoting the Emerald Tablets words, ‘So above so below’ Gardiner suggests these universally held archetypes link the universal mind and the quantum field so often spoken of in recent self help literature.
Gardiner suggests that the meanings behind the Bible makes no literal sense, rather it reflects an esoteric reality. These ‘enlightened experiences’ can be induced by drugs or by physical and mental stimulus.
Can these esoteric events allow us to access the quantum mind and influence human evolution/
The question though is do these events allow an access to the quantum mind and can it influence our evolution?
Gardiner describes the serpent as the symbol of universal energy and heaking kundilini. He then goes on to point out the use of the serpent symbol in the bible.
For example, Moses is depicted in as healing the Israelites of snake bite by making a fiery copper serpent.
IIs the serpent a universal symbol of energy and healing kundalini This fiery image of Moses is depicted in art and Jesus is portrayed as a type of Moses in the New Testament.

The book of Genesis chapter 3 describes an early quest for knowledge when Eve (Hebrew. Chava) listens to a serpent and partakes of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad. According to Gardiner this ‘being like god, knowing good and bad’ refers to knowing the truth within that is married to the union of serpent energies depicted in ancient serpent myths. The ability to access these truths were either banned or simply forgotten by religious hierarchies.
The real truth, according to Gardiner, is the need to unify the dual masculine and feminine energies within each of us.
Rather than describing historical realities, Adam and Eve are the dual energies within man. The Serpent-tree of life image is certainly not unique to Genesis. In many myths the serpent (sometimes a pair) lives in or is coiled around a Tree of Life situated in a divine garden.
The trinity doctrine of Christianity, according to Gardiner, symbolizes the union of the divine as one, the male and female energies united.
The Bible is a collection of older ancient beliefs, and the torah emerged from oral traditions, according to Gardiner.
The Kabbalistic masterwork The Zohar, writes of a radiance of dine light reflected in Torah. Not discussed by Gardiner is the symbol of fire the passionatestriving to reach for God. The soul yearns the upward call for God as does the upward fight of a flame.
Gardiner refers to the ancient waters of Genesis and correctly links them to the quality called Hochmah in Kabbalah. However, he does not attempt any explanation of the fundamental principles behind this, nor refer to the language of branches, fundamental to understanding Kabbalah.
Rather he links Sophia, the wisdom that allows the knowledge of the tree of Genesis to bear fruit. He then notes that Mary is often depicted in a boat stating that water is often a symbol of wisdom.
He states that Mary means water, although the meaning is far from certain. It is tue that the Lainised name Mary . means "star of the sea" and Jerome associated the Virgin's name with the Latin phrase "stella maris". It is probably derived from the Hebrew Miriam that has been claimed to derive from meri and am ("their rebellion") or even Bitter Sea according to Jerome from the Hbrew mar (bitter) and yam (sea). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia attempts to derive the meaning ‘star of the sea’ from Hebrew “usually explain it as consisting of two nouns: mor and yam (myrrh of the sea); mari (cf. Daniel 4:16) and yam (mistress of the sea); mar (cf. Isaiah 40:15) and yam (drop of the sea). But these and all similar derivations of the name Mary are philogically inadmissible”.
My point is that to link the name Mary’s name to older stories may not be so clear and Gardiner jumps from one philological similarity to another without establishing the proof of his claim.
Gardiner then links the Asherah, the sacred pole, condemned in torah, was a symbol of the divine union. Asherah he links with the serpent Lady Tanis.
He then suggests a philological link to Chava (or Eve) as a remaking of the serpent. The sacred pole of the Asherah mimic the sacred tree, Tree groves were often used in Canaanite worship, and pole and snake are often found entwined in ancient belief. Many have theorized that the fiery copper serpent of Moses on a pole is a representation of this image.
Gardiner points out that there is a dearth of archeological evidence for a temple in 1oth century BCE Jerusalem. He notes that the Knights Templar probably tried to find the ark that Jewish legend claims was hidden under the temple.

He interprets the Temple as symbolic and argues that Solomon’s temple was in fact a symbol of worship of all the divinities of the world, brought together by the multitudinous wives of Solomon.
On the one hand he state not temple existed in Solomon’s time and yet makes unproven assertions of their being a pantheon of gods worshipped there.
Feminine energy has been associated with powerful times of creativity in history. The highly important 11-12th centuries were periods of Mariology, mysticism, writers like Hildgard of Bingam as well as a rise in science and economic theory.
He suggests that Saint Bernard was influenced by Islamic mystery schools. That is an over simplification. He does not explain the importance of this. Islamic and Christian mysticism do however borrow from the idea of a passionate bonding to God expressed in the Song of Solomon.
How does Gardiner link the Temple of Solomon to serpent worship?
Gardiner notes that the standard of the tribe of Naphtali is a serpent. Actually Genesis 49:21 links Naptali to a hind, however, Gen 49:17 states ‘Dan shall be a serpent by the way’.
He then points out that Solomon’s contemporary, King Hiram who helped supply the temple construction, is also said to be of have some heritage to the tribes of Dan and Naptali. He also claims that the name Hiram links to snake worship – a meaning flatly rejected by scholarship. However, there are many stories about this man. Jewish tradition tells conflicting stories about Hiram however he is depicted in legend as having great age and beginning to deify himself because of it stats the Jewish Encyclopedia. Ity should be noted that legends have merged together the king Hiram and a master craftsman sent by the king to construct the temple and fabled in Masonic traditions.
This half Jewish, half Phoenician king is said to have had the strange Shamir a worm or a substance that had the power to cut through or disintegrate stone, iron and diamond. No metal was allowed to be used to cut the stones used on the temple and this mystical substance cut the temple stone.
Gardiner accepts without question the worm serpent symbol. Although notingthat Velikovsky suggested the Shamir was radioactive Gardiner sees the Temple and the Shamir is esoteric symbols.
Some link Hiram to Ashmedai, a prince of demons, whom King Solomon’s chief assistant, Benaiahu Ben Yehoyada, tricked into parting with the Shamir. Hence Gardiner links Solomon’s Temple to ancient mysteries.

Gardiner then compares the legend that Camelot was cut by the fire of the dragon, again aludingto the serpent as symbol of wisdom.
Gardiner then tries to link the name hiram (exalted above the people) to biblical Abraham. He claims Hiram also means exalted snake that Abraham means Ab Hiram. This is very speculative as there are no examples of the word Abraham outside of Abrahamic religion.
The Jewish encyclopedia debates the possible meaning of Abraham however it concludes “There is no evidence that Abram is a shortened form of Abiram. As to the meaning of Abram, the first element is undoubtedly the common Semitic for “father”; the second could be derived from Akkadian ra’âmu (“to love”) or from West-Semitic rwm (“to be high”). “He loved the father” or “father loves” is a far less likely meaning than “he is exalted with respect to father” i.e., he is of distinguished lineage. The meaning “exalted father” or “father is exalted,” while less satisfactory, cannot be ruled out.”
What is Gardiners point here?
He argues that the stories if the temple link to ancient psychological archetypes. He poijts out that none of the Knights Templar’s many structures depict the crucifixion, adding to the Church claim they were heretics. Gardiner alleges the crusaders discovered hidden texts (without offering proof) that proved the temple was a metaphor that he links back without proof to the Masonic baphomet he claims derives from baphos - baptism and messs - wisdom. Ann emersion into own inner wisdom, the heresy that of the life within.
According to Gardiner the truth of Christianity is hidden in this metaphor. Moses is linked to a serpent. Hiram is linked to a serpent. Jesus is linked to Moses, and claims that he would be raised as Moses raised the serpent.
The Bible gives a brief account of a visit of the queen of Sheba who solon gave all she desired. There are myths that Solomon and Sheba had a child. The Ethiopian monarchy claimed to be descended of their union. Gardiner argues that Solomon and Sheba, who Gardiner links to serpent worship, are symbolic of united bonding of the masculine and feminine archetypes within man expressed in a polytheistic temple. The queen of Sheba is a symbol of the Asherah entering the temple as serpent queen. Sadly he offers no proof of the assertion; especially since he also points out that the archeological evidence suggests the people could not have built such a temple in Jerusalem.

However, this does not stop him then comparing this story to King Arthur marrying the queen of serpents who was the offspring of a stolen seed.
Just as Solomon’s people fragment after him, England fragments after King Arthur. The feminine is lost and the power declines.
He claims these links prove that the Crusaders prove the truth of the Temples serpentine origin. However I suggest his grabbing at evidence does not prove causative link. Association is not always proof of causation.
A thin woman may wear a bikini however that does not mean that wearing a bikini makes a woman thin.
Nevertheless, it is possible to find a psychological element in the most esoteric interpretation of the Bible.
The temple is for Gardiner a psychological tool that is purely symbolic, just as the Freemasons see the temple as transcendent. Sadly Gardiner does not discuss the Jewish concept that in person is in himself a temple. some of the ideas of a spiritual temple is found in Torah and Kabbalah and is hinted at in the Christian description of the body as a temple. This is derived from Exodus 25:8-9 "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell in them”.
Sadly Gardiner seems to grab lots of bits and pieces and claim there are links that he does not attempt to prove.

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University of Illinois psychology professor Dolores Albarracin and her colleagues found that people who are unsure of their own beliefs are less likely to entertain opposing views.

Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

CHAMPAIGN, lll. – We swim in a sea of information, but filter out most of what we see or hear. A new analysis of data from dozens of studies sheds new light on how we choose what we do and do not hear. The study found that while people tend to avoid information that contradicts what they already think or believe, certain factors can cause them to seek out, or at least consider, other points of view.

The analysis, reported this month in Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association, was led by researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida, and included data from 91 studies involving nearly 8,000 participants. It puts to rest a longstanding debate over whether people actively avoid information that contradicts what they believe, or whether they are simply exposed more often to ideas that conform to their own because they tend to be surrounded by like-minded people.

“We wanted to see exactly across the board to what extent people are willing to seek out the truth versus just stay comfortable with what they know,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Dolores Albarracín, who led the study with University of Florida researcher William Hart. The team also included researchers from Northwestern University and Ohio University.

The studies they reviewed generally asked participants about their views on a given topic and then allowed them to choose whether they wanted to view or read information supporting their own or an opposing point of view.

The researchers found that people are about twice as likely to select information that supports their own point of view (67 percent) as to consider an opposing idea (33 percent).

Certain individuals, those with close-minded personalities, are even more reluctant to expose themselves to differing perspectives, Albarracín said. They will opt for the information that corresponds to their views nearly 75 percent of the time.

The researchers also found, not surprisingly, that people are more resistant to new points of view when their own ideas are associated with political, religious or ethical values.

“If you are really committed to your own attitude – for example, if you are a very committed Democrat – you are more likely to seek congenial information, that is, information that corresponds with your views,” Albarracín said. “If the issues concern moral values or politics, about 70 percent of the time you will choose congenial information, versus about 60 percent of the time if the issues are not related to values.”

Perhaps more surprisingly, people who have little confidence in their own beliefs are less likely to expose themselves to contrary views than people who are very confident in their own ideas, Albarracín said.

Certain factors can also induce people to seek out opposing points of view, she said. Those who may have to publicly defend their ideas, such as politicians, for example, are more motivated to learn about the views of those who oppose them. In the process, she said, they sometimes find that their own ideas evolve.

People are also more likely to expose themselves to opposing ideas when it is useful to them in some way, Albarracín said.

“If you’re going to buy a house and you really like the house, you’re still going to have it inspected,” she said. Similarly, no matter how much you like your surgeon, you may seek out a second opinion before scheduling a major operation, she said.

“For the most part it seems that people tend to stay with their own beliefs and attitudes because changing those might prevent them from living the lives they’re living,” Albarracín said. “But it’s good news that one out of three times, or close to that, they are willing to seek out the other side.”

“Feeling Validated Versus Being Correct: A Meta-Analysis of Selective Exposure to Information” appears in Volume 135, No. 4, of Psychological Bulletin. The co-authors: Albarracin; Hart, Inge Brechan and Lisa Merrill, of the University of Florida; Alice H. Eagly, of Northwestern University; and Matthew J. Lindberg, of Ohio University. Full text of the article is available online.

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