Brian Sullivan


Free Kabbalah Course

To sign up for the free online courses, just fill in the form. You'll receive access to the virtual classroom where you'll find a schedule of lesson broadcasts, a question interface, student forum, related study material consisting of authentic Kabbalistic articles and texts as well as related videos and supporting written material.

What is Kabbalah?

Because it deals with fixed truths and universal principles it may be more correctly viewed as a science, a science that is felt by us as wisdom. It translates the architecture upon which all Creation is premised into an accessible guide that will profoundly enrich the life of the person who approaches it for the right reason. It contains the key that explains not only the way our inner and outer worlds are constructed, but why. It teaches a method that allows the spiritual seeker to live in exact accord with the guiding force behind the whole of reality and to work in the same way it does: with a higher creativity used only for the well-being and fulfillment of life. Kabbalah is called hidden because its purpose is to define and reveal our own and the higher nature that goes undetected by our senses... read more

Course Description
clip The course is done live in streaming video. During the broadcast you will be able to interact with the instructor and submit your questions for discussion during the classes. Though the lessons originate live, recordings are stored on the site for review. You will also have access to films, Kabbalistic music and supporting texts and materials. The first part of the course explains the key to this long hidden wisdom, and provides a firm basis in the principle of Kabbalah revealing its methodology making clear its true purpose and use. We then move to Intermediate study in which we learn the practical application of the method and finally we progress to preparation for advanced classes taught by Rav Michael Laitman, PhD - one of the world,s foremost Kabbalists... read more

Who Can Study Kabbalah?
When Rav Kook, the great 20th century Kabbalist and the first Chief Rabbi of Israel was asked who could study Kabbalah, his answer was unequivocal: "Anyone who wants to. In the last one hundred years, all the Kabbalists without exception clearly stated, and on many occasions, that today Kabbalah is open to all. Moreover, they said that it is a necessary tool in resolving the global crisis that they predicted would come, and which we are facing today.

According to all Kabbalists, Kabbalah's hiding days are over. The wisdom of Kabbalah was previously hidden because Kabbalists feared that it would be misused, and misunderstood. And indeed, the little that did seep out evoked numerous misconceptions about it. Because Kabbalists state that our generation is ready to understand the real meaning of Kabbalah, and to clear up the past misconceptions, this science is now being opened to all who wish to learn... read more

Teaching Lineage
Bnei Baruch - Kabbalah Education and Research Institute is an organization for studying, teaching, and disseminating authentic Kabbalah. In 1991, Rav Michael Laitman, PhD , established Bnei Baruch for the purposes just described. He named it Bnei Baruch (sons of Baruch) in memory of his mentor, the great Kabbalist Rabbi Baruch Ashlag, himself the firstborn son and successor of Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar .

To spread its message, Bnei Baruch maintains this site, publishes books, papers, and produces radio and TV programs. About one million users visit our sites each month, and tens of thousands of them are active members, who support the cause and help spread it, for the benefit of humanity.
Brian Sullivan


A Thousand Suns tells the story of the Gamo Highlands of the African Rift Valley and the unique worldview held by the people of the region. This isolated area has remained remarkably intact both biologically and culturally. It is one of the most densely populated rural regions of Africa yet its people have been farming sustainably for 10,000 years. Shot in Ethiopia, New York and Kenya, the film explores the modern world's untenable sense of separation from and superiority over nature and how the interconnected worldview of the Gamo people is fundamental in achieving long-term sustainability, both in the region and beyond.
however, for me it does raise some questions.
As I understand it, Gamo's sustainable agriculture depends upon a fixed population.
Will globalisation, populatiuon shifts or an aging population change this?

Will globalisation destroy the isolation that protected the cultural diversity that is the foundation of resilience in the Gamo Highlands?
Will the survival of the Gamo Highlands' priceless cultural wealth depend on creating strong local economies able to fend off globalisqation?
Brian Sullivan

Imagine I handed you a 1 million dollar cheque. The problem is the cheque is post dated for 90 days with an attached note:
“You must act out perfectly the following script in 90 days– or the cheque will bounce.”
Chances are you would begin rehearsal immediately, learning your lines and becoming the character.
What if the character required you to be of the opposite sex, perhaps you had to dye your hair or talk with an accent you found hard to pull off.
What if the character had values you are uncomfortable with? By thirty days you will have overcxome your hang-ups, 60 you will have the role down pat and by 90 it will be part of your unconscious core competencies.
Everyone of us is faced with a similar challenge when we try to try to manifest our future life.
Our external reality mirrors our inner world.
The results in our lives are the sum of our past thoughts, feelings about our thoughts and actions, says john Assaraf.
R = T + F+ A
The neural processes behind our unconscious mind account for 83% of the brains weight and conscious thought is only 2-4% of thinking according to some estimates.
Yet to succeed we must take ownership of our brain recognize where we lack competency and develop a conscious grasp of needed skills.
With practice these skills can become automatic, unconscious like a professional singer or athlete.
This requires we very clearly define our overarching vision and determine what beliefs and values will support it.
Just as you can become a character by acting out a role with emotion and practice, you can change your values in 30 to 180 days depending on your outcome. Sadly some people plan a week for things needing months then give up and try something simple and drag it out for 6 months!
Just as a living thing has a period of gestation, so does your beliefs. Thoughts, like seeds, draw on their environment to grow. To bring our beliefs to birth, we must feed these beliefs, and act on them if we are to enjoy the rewards of compensation.
To help we can use:

  1. Affirmation with emotion repetition and right word patterns
  2. Being held accountable for 30- 180 days
  3. Visualize the new outcome habit belief
However, you probably feel a bit like a phony, faking out new beliefs, just like you would feel first rehearsing your million dollar staring role.
Our implicit memory system and the reticular activating system have starring roles in our unconscious inhibitions and our potential for success.
Secondly, rats that have never been exposed to curved lines can only see straight lines, and rats exposed to curves only cannot see straight lines.
Our brain, based on experience, gives meaning to what we see, and can reject or distort unthreatening items to make them fit previous beliefs.
As a former epileptic heravily sedated, I know how my brain formerly took time to process things, in the intervening period I often misinterpreted and incorrectly ‘saw’ events before my brain processed my senses.
Kabbalah expressed this idea long before modern science, arguing our perceptions depended on experiential memory or reshimot. Similar ideas are also found in Hindu and Buddhist psychology.
Lets plan the next 90 days

Step 1: Clarify You Goals
The exercise suggested comes from john Assaraf’s “Having It All: Achieving Your Lifes Goals and Dreams” available at Amazon which has forms designed for these exercises.
You need to be ABSOLUTLY CLEAR about what you want, and when, in all areas of your life:
Health
1. Emotional Health
2. Physical Health
3. Spiritual Health

Career Goals
1. Financial Career Goals
2. Non Financial Career Goals

Relationships
Including family, friends, spouse or partner.

Financial Goals
These could include your net worth, and how much you want to be able to give to charity.

Step 2 What Beliefs support my goals?
Affirmations
John Assaraf recommends the following format for your affirmations:
I am so grateful for the fact that I ………………. (am earning $3000 a week).
He emphasizes reciting these affirmations with feelings, eyes closed. Get into the moment, become your character as if acting out your million dollar role.
Visualize your outcome
Infact, you could submerge steps two and three and act out your vision live it, feel it, like a thespian who submerged in method acting becomes his character at every moment possible.
Step 3 Action
For each of your goals write out the following action list:

Actions I Can Do:
• Today
• Tomorrow
• The Next Day
• Next Week

Work on, and revise your list daily, and get going toward your success.
Brian Sullivan


Sraddhalu Ranade, scientist and scholar at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, possesses a deep belief in the universality of the experience of oneness. In this complete interview, Sraddhalu Ranade discusses obstacles to living the fullness of our being, the relevance of living our essential oneness in the world today, and the collective spiritual potential of humanity. "What is needed—and that's the unity of the future—is a unity in which each one knows oneness with all, and yet is uniquely expressive of that oneness in an absolute freedom."
Sraddhalu Ranade is a scientist, educator and scholar at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram where he grew up in the care of the late Sri M. P. Pandit. He is presently involved in the production of video programs based on India's cultural roots, and conducts teacher-training programs based on a soul-centered approach to education. He has conducted numerous intensive teacher-training workshops on Integral and value-based education all over India. Over 4,500 teachers from more than 200 schools and colleges have benefited from these programs. He has been involved in various research projects including artificial intelligence based on neural networks, multimedia search and retrieval, and educational tools. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences on science and spirituality and lectures around the world on the yoga teachings of Sri Aurobindo.
Brian Sullivan



Epilepsy is a major health problem affecting 50 million people around the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the widespread nature of this condition, a precise global definition of treatment resistant epilepsy has remained elusive. This has resulted in diverse criteria being used by clinicians and researchers making it difficult to compare results across studies and to make recommendations for clinical practice.


A global consensus definition of treatment resistant epilepsy was offered at the Redefining Treatment Resistant Epilepsy Symposium.


The Symposium was held at the 63th meeting of the American Epilepsy in Boston.


In offering this new definition the global epilepsy the panel of international experts from developed and developing countries hopes to improve patient care and better facilitate clinical research.


It is hoped this will reduce unproductive practices in managing the disorder.


While it might appear obvious when epilepsy in a patient is refractory or resistant to treatment, however until now there has been no precise definition for doctors and medical researchers to make this determination.


This has resulted in a variety of standards effecting how many different medications are tried, how long each trial period should be, and when a patient should be referred to a specialist epilepsy center.


"Our aim in offering this new definition is to develop common criteria that will have global impact in improving patient care," said Dr. Samuel Wiebe, Director of the University of Calgary Epilepsy Program and Chair of the North American Commission of the ILAE.


"We hope that the global research and patient care community will embrace this new definition so that a greater number of people with epilepsy will become seizure free."


The symposium, entitled Redefining Treatment Resistant Epilepsy, is supported by a special grant from Lundbeck Inc. and is presented in collaboration with the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).
Brian Sullivan



Responsive Neuro-stimulation (RNS) systems help control symptoms in patients suffering from severe epilepsy according to a study released at the American Epilepsy Society 63rd Annual Meeting in Boston.
Medtronic and NeuroPace announced that RNS reduced the frequency of seizures in a trial of 191 people with medically intractable partial onset epilepsy.
The RNS System is designed to continuously monitor brain electrical activity and, after identifying a patient's unique "signature" indicating a seizure is starting, deliver brief and mild electrical stimulations with the intention of suppressing the seizure.
The trial demonstrated a statistically significant 29 percent in seizures compared to 14 percent reduction in a placebo group.
Long term use demonstrated that after 12 weeks 47 percent of 171 study participants had a 50 percent or greater reduction in their seizure frequency.
This showed that the RNS System may be a safe and effective treatment option for people who cannot control effectively their seizures with medication, said Chief Medical Officer of NeuroPace Martha Morrell.
"The results also indicate the device became even more effective over time” said Morell who is also and Clinical Professor of Neurology at Stanford University.
“These findings, drawn from a data set that includes people living with the most difficult type of epilepsy to manage, truly speak to the potential of responsive neuro-stimulation in controlling seizures."


The RNS System differs from deep brain stimulation, which delivers stimulation continuously or on a pre-set schedule.
It gives physicians the ability to non-invasively program the detection and stimulation parameters of an implanted RNS Neurostimulator specifically for individual patients.
The serious adverse event rate less than comparative surgical procedures and no serious unanticipated device related adverse events reported.
Adverse events including depression, memory impairment and anxiety were the same for treatment and placebo groups.
Epilepsy effects 50 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

NeuroPace plans to submit a premarket approval (PMA) application to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in early 2010 seeking approval of the RNS System for the treatment of epilepsy



Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti
Brian Sullivan


Brainstroming works best with people of varied specialties for less complicated products according to Stylianos Kavadias and Svenja C. Sommer journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
When developing highly technical products specialists working in private or in collaborative 'nominal' groups work best.
From the 1950’s a a lot has been written about successful brainstorming sessions,  However, social psychology researchers have long insisted that brainstorming groups perform worse than an equal number of isolated individuals.
The present study tried to bridge the lack of consensus.

The study concluded that that nominal groups perform better in specialized problems, even when the factors that affect the solution quality have greater problem complexity.
However, inn cross-functional problems, the brainstorming group exploits the competence diversity of its participants to attain better solutions.



Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti
Brian Sullivan



Intensive reading programs can improve the structure of a child's brain, according to a study in the journal Neuron.
The study, Altering Cortical Connectivity: Remediation-Induced Changes in the White Matter of Poor Readers, found that several different programs improved the integrity of nerve fibers within the brain.
This helps coordination between brain regions.
Reading uses different areas of the brain to perform different functions like vocabulary, syntax and meaning. The speed between these areas depends on nerve fibre integrity.
Neuroimaging have revealed regions of cerebral white matter with among poor readers.
Poor readers had significantly lower FA than good readers in a region of the left anterior centrum semiovale.
After 100 hr of intensive remedial instruction there was significantly increased FA in white matter in the same region. The FA increase correlated with a decrease in radial (but not axial) diffusivity suggesting that myelination had increased.
The study studies used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to scan the brains of children from 8 to 12 years old, including poor readers and those with typical reading skills.
Children with poor reading skills had white matter with decreased microstructural organization (lowerfractional anisotropy or FA) than typical children.
In the following school year, some of the poor readers were given 100 hours of intensive instruction that had them repeatedly practice reading words and sentences.
A second scan demonstrated that white brain integrity had improved as had the child’s reading.
There was a direct correlation between changed neural structure and improved reading ability ( or more precisely, phonological decoding ability).
The study demonstrates that white matter is as important as grey matter in learning.
Previous studies have demonstrated that white matter changes when people learn to juggle or play a musical instrument.




Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti
Brian Sullivan



The Beatles may have popularized it, and Deepak Chopra has added medical credibility to it now science says TM Meditators with coronary heart disease have 47 percent lower rates of heart attack and stroke and death.


The first-ever study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association Nov.16, 2009. It was sponsored by a $3.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health–National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


Meditation reduced the combined death, heart attacks, and stroke rate by 47 percent, reduced blood pressure by a significant 5 mm Hg average and reduced psychological stress.


“Previous research on Transcendental Meditation has shown reductions in blood pressure, psychological stress, and other risk factors for heart disease” said lead author and director of the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention Robert Schneider.


The study was conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.


“This is the first controlled clinical trial to show that long-term practice of this particular stress reduction program reduces the incidence of clinical cardiovascular events, that is heart attacks, strokes and mortality.”


The nine-year, randomized control trial followed 201African American men and women, average age 59 years, with narrowing of heart arteries.


They were randomly assigned to either practice the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique or to participate in a control group which received health education classes in traditional risk factors, dietary modification and exercise.


All participants continued standard medications and other usual medical care.


“This study is an example of the contribution of a lifestyle intervention—stress management—to the prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients,” said co-author Professor Theodore Kotchen.


Dr. Schneider said that the effect of Transcendental Meditation in the trial was like adding a class of newly discovered medications for the prevention of heart disease. “In this case, the new medications are derived from the body’s own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice,” he said.


There are 1,5 million heart attacks annually in the US and Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of  death.


There is a heart attack every 34 seconds in the USA.


Dr. Schneider said that the effect of Transcendental Meditation in the trial was like adding a class of newly discovered medications for the prevention of heart disease.


“In this case, the new medications are derived from the body’s own internal pharmacy stimulated by the Transcendental Meditation practice,” he said.


Certainly it is cost effective. More than $475 billion is spent annually on treating CHD. Coronary bypass surgery costs $100,000, angioplasty $50,000 and diagnostic cardiac catheterization $30,000.


There are nearly 500,000 coronary artery bypass grafts and 1.3 million angioplasties performed every year.


Better by far you forget and smile than you should remember and be sad - Christina Rosetti
Brian Sullivan


Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a set of molecular brakes that stabilize the developing brain's circuitry. Moreover, experimentally removing those brakes in mice enhanced the animals' performance in a test of visual learning, suggesting a long-term path to therapeutic application.
In a study to be published Nov. 25 in Neuron, Carla Shatz, PhD, professor of neurobiology and of biology, and her colleagues have implicated two members of a large family of proteins critical to immune function (collectively known as HLA molecules in humans and MHC1 molecules in mice) in brain development. Until recently, these immune-associated molecules were thought to play no role at all in the healthy brain.
In previous studies, Shatz and her co-investigators have shown that MHC molecules are found on the surfaces of nerve cells in the brain, and that they temper "synaptic plasticity": the ease with which synapses — the more than 100 trillion points of contact between nerve cells that determine brain circuitry — are strengthened, weakened, created or destroyed in response to experience. In one recent study, the Shatz group tied two specific members of the MHC1 family, called K and D, to the ability of circuits in a brain region responsible for motor learning to be refined by a learning experience.
This time, the scientists looked at vision processing in the brain. "We'd already found that K and D were located in brain regions we knew mattered: the visual cortex, and a relay station in the brain that sends its input to the visual cortex," said Shatz.
A good example of the "use it or lose it" manner in which experience-dependent circuit tuning shapes the brain is the ability of one eye to take over brain circuits that normally would be used by the other eye.
"Normally, your two eyes share vision-devoted brain circuits 50/50," Shatz said. "But when kids are born with a congenital cataract, or lose an eye — or in animal models where one eye is blocked — so that the brain's visual-information-processing machinery is no longer being used evenly by both eyes, the other eye doesn't just sit there. It takes over the machinery normally reserved for input from the other eye."
In order to map the roles of K and D in visual development, Shatz's group studied mice genetically engineered to lack these two molecules. They found that developmental circuit tuning was abnormal, she said. "The nerve input from the eyes was the same at the gross level — the major nerve tracts still went from the eye to the first visual relay system, and from there to the visual cortex. But the detailed connections within each structure had been altered. The adult patterning didn't develop normally."
In these K- and D-deficient mice, the capacity of a more-used eye to dominate visual information-processing circuitry is abnormal, and in a surprising way, said Shatz. "There's too much of it," she said. "If one eye stops functioning, the other eye takes over more than its fair share of the cortical machinery devoted to the brain's visual-information-processing territory."
In a test of visual performance, Shatz's team showed that the K- and D-deficient mice could see better through their remaining eye than could ordinary mice raised with a similarly blocked eye. "This suggests there's some kind of molecular brake on plasticity in the brain, and these molecules are involved in the braking system. Taking off the brake improved performance," she said.
Using a new method for localizing molecules in three-dimensional chunks of tissue (pioneered by co-author Stephen Smith, PhD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology and a member of the Stanford Cancer Center), Shatz's team was able to show that K and D are located at synapses. "We've placed them at the scene of the crime, right where circuit change happens," she said. "We think that in the brain they're pieces of a common braking-system pathway."
What's going on in the brain that needs a brake in the first place? Without both accelerators and brakes, any dynamic system — such as the brain, where connections change dramatically in response to whether they're being used — would become unstable, Shatz said. "Some of us think epilepsy, for example, could be a consequence of this process being not carefully controlled and regulated, and happening too easily."
That MHC molecules are also expressed on neurons has very large implications, because inflammation works through the immune system. Inflammation triggers the release of molecules called cytokines that change MHC1 levels on cells throughout the body, said Shatz. "If this process also changes MCH1 levels on cells in the brain, could that alter the circuit-tuning process enough to make a difference in behavior?"
There are also therapeutic implications, Shatz observed. "Maybe in children with learning disabilities, the brake's been applied too hard — or it could mean that after injury to an adult's brain, taking the brake off or loosening it up a bit could allow the brain to get retrained more easily."


Creation is the highest form of Divinity, and your
birthright. Truth is, you are creating all the time. The
central question in your life is whether you are
doing this consciously or unconsciously.
Conscious creation is what is needed now. Stop
moping. And stop thinking negative thoughts. Just
get on with it! Tomorrow awaits your choice as to
how its going to be. Call the shots! Make it happen!
You're in charge here.

- Rachana Ghatge
Brian Sullivan


Spiritual vision and love can overcome all hurdles and overcome communication difficulties., especially that of communication states India's first International Deaf Conference for Spiritual Life and Vision, Universal Sanatana Dharma for the Deaf (USDDeaf).

The weekend conference, at at Iskcon at Juhu, demonstrated that metaphysical could unite hearing-impaired people belonging to different religions, reports The Times of India.

17 speakers, most challenged by hearing problems, promoted a spiritual dimension to the experience of being deaf with the Art of Living, yoga and reiki, health and fitness and healing.

The USDDeaf conference included plays, sign-a-story contests in Indian sign language (ISL), short games and inspiring stories.
"I was rendered deaf when I was one year old. After I grew up, I summed up the strength to fight the challenge and help others like me achieve in life,'' said Anantadeva Dasa (alias Ashok Rao) president and  founder of USDDeaf.

"Although we cannot hear, we are very observant of the life revolving around us and we can communicate the happenings with others who can hear” he said.
“For many, the hearing aid or cochlear implants might be a possible solution but the stress in using the devices is immense and others cam seldom understand that.''



Creation is the highest form of Divinity, and your
birthright. Truth is, you are creating all the time. The
central question in your life is whether you are
doing this consciously or unconsciously.
Conscious creation is what is needed now. Stop
moping. And stop thinking negative thoughts. Just
get on with it! Tomorrow awaits your choice as to
how its going to be. Call the shots! Make it happen!
You're in charge here.

- Rachana Ghatge
Brian Sullivan



I am a writer. Writing books is my profession but it's more than that, of course. It is also my great lifelong love and fascination. And I don't expect that that's ever going to change. But, that said, something kind of peculiar has happened recently in my life and in my career, which has caused me to have to recalibrate my whole relationship with this work. And the peculiar thing is that I recently wrote this book, this memoir called "Eat, Pray, Love" which, decidedly unlike any of my previous books, went out in the world for some reason, and became this big, mega-sensation, international bestseller thing. The result of which is that everywhere I go now, people treat me like I'm doomed. Seriously -- doomed, doomed! Like, they come up to me now, all worried, and they say, "Aren't you afraid -- aren't you afraid you're never going to be able to top that? Aren't you afraid you're going to keep writing for your whole life and you're never again going to create a book that anybody in the world cares about at all, ever again?"

So that's reassuring, you know. But it would be worse, except for that I happen to remember that over 20 years ago, when I first started telling people -- when I was a teenager -- that I wanted to be a writer, I was met with this same kind of, sort of fear-based reaction. And people would say, "Aren't you afraid you're never going to have any success? Aren't you afraid the humiliation of rejection will kill you? Aren't you afraid that you're going to work your whole life at this craft and nothing's ever going to come of it and you're going to die on a scrap heap of broken dreams with your mouth filled with bitter ash of failure?" (Laughter) Like that, you know.

The answer -- the short answer to all those questions is, "Yes." Yes, I'm afraid of all those things. And I always have been. And I'm afraid of many many more things besides that people can't even guess at. Like seaweed, and other things that are scary. But, when it comes to writing the thing that I've been sort of thinking about lately, and wondering about lately, is why? You know, is it rational? Is it logical that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do. You know, and what is it specifically about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other's mental health in a way that other careers kind of don't do, you know? Like my dad, for example, was a chemical engineer and I don't recall once in his 40 years of chemical engineering anybody asking him if he was afraid to be a chemical engineer, you know? It didn't -- that chemical engineering block John, how's it going? It just didn't come up like that, you know? But to be fair, chemical engineers as a group haven't really earned a reputation over the centuries for being alcoholic manic-depressives. (Laughter)

We writers, we kind of do have that reputation, and not just writers, but creative people across all genres, it seems, have this reputation for being enormously mentally unstable. And all you have to do is look at the very grim death count in the 20th century alone, of really magnificent creative minds who died young and often at their own hands, you know? And even the ones who didn't literally commit suicide seem to be really undone by their gifts, you know. Norman Mailer, just before he died, last interview, he said "Every one of my books has killed me a little more." An extraordinary statement to make about your life's work, you know. But we don't even blink when we hear somebody say this because we've heard that kind of stuff for so long and somehow we've completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.

And the question that I want to ask everybody here today is are you guys all cool with that idea? Are you comfortable with that -- because you look at it even from an inch away and, you know -- I'm not at all comfortable with that assumption. I think it's odious. And I also think it's dangerous, and I don't want to see it perpetuated into the next century. I think it's better if we encourage our great creative minds to live.

And I definitely know that, in my case -- in my situation -- it would be very dangerous for me to start sort of leaking down that dark path of assumption, particularly given the circumstance that I'm in right now in my career. Which is -- you know, like check it out, I'm pretty young, I'm only about 40 years old. I still have maybe another four decades of work left in me. And it's exceedingly likely that anything I write from this point forward is going to be judged by the world as the work that came after the freakish success of my last book, right? I should just put it bluntly, because we're all sort of friends here now -- it's exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me. Oh, so Jesus, what a thought! You know that's the kind of thought that could lead a person to start drinking gin at nine o'clock in the morning, and I don't want to go there. (Laughter) I would prefer to keep doing this work that I love.

And so, the question becomes, how? And so, it seems to me, upon a lot of reflection, that the way that I have to work now, in order to continue writing, is that I have to create some sort of protective psychological construct, right? I have to, sort of find some way to have a safe distance between me, as I am writing, and my very natural anxiety about what the reaction to that writing is going to be, from now on. And, as I've been looking over the last year for models for how to do that I've been sort of looking across time, and I've been trying to find other societies to see if they might have had better and saner ideas than we have about how to help creative people, sort of manage the inherent emotional risks of creativity.

And that search has led me to ancient Greece and ancient Rome. So stay with me, because it does circle around and back. But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome -- people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity "daemons." Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius. Which is great, because the Romans did not actually think that a genius was a particularly clever individual. They believed that a genius was this, sort of magical divine entity, who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist's studio, kind of like Dobby the house elf, and who would come out and sort of invisibly assist the artist with their work and would shape the outcome of that work.

So brilliant -- there it is, right there that distance that I'm talking about -- that psychological construct to protect you from the results of your work. And everyone knew that this is how it functioned, right? So the ancient artist was protected from certain things, like, for example, too much narcissism, right? If your work was brilliant you couldn't take all the credit for it, everybody knew that you had this disembodied genius who had helped you. If your work bombed, not entirely your fault, you know? Everyone knew your genius was kind of lame. And this is how people thought about creativity in the West for a really long time.

And then the Renaissance came and everything changed, and we had this big idea, and the big idea was let's put the individual human being at the center of the universe above all gods and mysteries, and there's no more room for mystical creatures who take dictation from the divine. And it's the beginning of rational humanism, and people started to believe that creativity came completely from the self of the individual. And for the first time in history, you start to hear people referring to this or that artist as being a genius rather than having a genius.

And I got to tell you, I think that was a huge error. You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It's like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance. And I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years.

And, if this is true, and I think it is true, the question becomes, what now? Can we do this differently? Maybe go back to some more ancient understanding about the relationship between humans and the creative mystery. Maybe not. Maybe we can't just erase 500 years of rational humanistic thought in one 18 minute speech. And there's probably people in this audience who would raise really legitimate scientific suspicions about the notion of, basically fairies who follow people around rubbing fairy juice on their projects and stuff. I'm not, probably, going to bring you all along with me on this.

But the question that I kind of want to pose is -- you know, why not? Why not think about it this way? Because it makes as much sense as anything else I have ever heard in terms of explaining the utter maddening capriciousness of the creative process. A process which, as anybody who has ever tried to make something -- which is to say basically, everyone here --- knows does not always behave rationally. And, in fact, can sometimes feel downright paranormal.

I had this encounter recently where I met the extraordinary American poet Ruth Stone, who's now in her 90s, but she's been a poet her entire life and she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, "run like hell." And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn't be fast enough, so she'd be running and running and running, and she wouldn't get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it "for another poet." And then there were these times -- this is the piece I never forgot -- she said that there were moments where she would almost miss it, right? So, she's running to the house and she's looking for the paper and the poem passes through her, and she grabs a pencil just as it's going through her, and then she said, it was like she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail, and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. And in these instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact but backwards, from the last word to the first. (Laughter)

So when I heard that I was like -- that's uncanny, that's exactly what my creative process is like. (Laughter)

That's not all what my creative process is -- I'm not the pipeline! I'm a mule, and the way that I have to work is that I have to get up at the same time every day, and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly. But even I, in my mulishness, even I have brushed up against that thing, at times. And I would imagine that a lot of you have too. You know, even I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. And what is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?

And for me, the best contemporary example that I have of how to do that is the musician Tom Waits, who I got to interview several years ago on a magazine assignment. And we were talking about this, and you know, Tom, for most of his life he was pretty much the embodiment of the tormented contemporary modern artist, trying to control and manage and dominate these sort of uncontrollable creative impulses that were totally internalized.

But then he got older, he got calmer, and one day he was driving down the freeway in Los Angeles he told me, and this is when it all changed for him. And he's speeding along, and all of a sudden he hears this little fragment of melody, that comes into his head as inspiration often comes, elusive and tantalizing, and he wants it, you know, it's gorgeous, and he longs for it, but he has no way to get it. He doesn't have a piece of paper, he doesn't have a pencil, he doesn't have a tape recorder.

So he starts to feel all of that old anxiety start to rise in him like, "I'm going to lose this thing, and then I'm going to be haunted by this song forever. I'm not good enough, and I can't do it." And instead of panicking, he just stopped. He just stopped that whole mental process and he did something completely novel. He just looked up at the sky, and he said, "Excuse me, can you not see that I'm driving?" (Laughter) "Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen."

And his whole work process changed after that. Not the work, the work was still oftentimes as dark as ever. But the process, and the heavy anxiety around it was released when he took the genie, the genius out of him where it was causing nothing but trouble, and released it kind of back where it came from, and realized that this didn't have to be this internalized, tormented thing. It could be this peculiar, wondrous, bizarre collaboration kind of conversation between Tom and the strange, external thing that was not quite Tom.

So when I heard that story it started to shift a little bit the way that I worked too, and it already saved me once. This idea, it saved me when I was in the middle of writing "Eat, Pray, Love," and I fell into one of those, sort of pits of despair that we all fall into when we're working on something and it's not coming and you start to think this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book ever written. Not just bad, but the worst book ever written. And I started to think I should just dump this project. But then I remembered Tom talking to the open air and I tried it. So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room. And I said aloud, "Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn't brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don't have anymore than this. So if you want it to be better, then you've got to show up and do your part of the deal. OK. But if you don't do that, you know what, the hell with it. I'm going to keep writing anyway because that's my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job." (Laughter)

Because -- (Applause) in the end it's like this, OK -- centuries ago in the deserts of North Africa, people used to gather for these moonlight dances of sacred dance and music that would go on for hours and hours, until dawn. And they were always magnificent, because the dancers were professionals and they were terrific, right? But every once in a while, very rarely, something would happen, and one of these performers would actually become transcendent. And I know you know what I'm talking about, because I know you've all seen, at some point in your life, a performance like this. It was like time would stop, and the dancer would sort of step through some kind of portal and he wasn't doing anything different than he had ever done, 1,000 nights before, but everything would align. And all of a sudden, he would no longer appear to be merely human. He would be lit from within, and lit from below and all lit up on fire with divinity.

And when this happened, back then, people knew it for what it was, you know, they called it by it's name. They would put their hands together and they would start to chant, "Allah, Allah, Allah, God God, God." That's God, you know. Curious historical footnote -- when the Moors invaded southern Spain, they took this custom with them and the pronunciation changed over the centuries from "Allah, Allah, Allah," to "Ole, ole, ole," which you still hear in bullfights and in flamenco dances. In Spain, when a performer has done something impossible and magic, "Allah, ole, ole, Allah, magnificent, bravo," incomprehensible, there it is -- a glimpse of God. Which is great, because we need that.

But, the tricky bit comes the next morning, for the dancer himself, when he wakes up and discovers that it's Tuesday at 11 a.m., and he's no longer a glimpse of God. He's just an aging mortal with really bad knees, and maybe he's never going to ascend to that height again. And maybe nobody will ever chant God's name again as he spins, and what is he then to do with the rest of his life? This is hard. This is one of the most painful reconciliations to make in a creative life. But maybe it doesn't have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you're finished, with somebody else. And, you know, if we think about it this way it starts to change everything.

This is how I've started to think, and this is certainly how I've been thinking in the last few months as I've been working on the book that will soon be published, as the dangerously, frighteningly overanticipated follow up to my freakish success.

And what I have to, sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that, is, don't be afraid. Don't be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then "Ole!" And if not, do your dance anyhow. And "Ole!" to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. "Ole!" to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.

Thank you. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

June Cohen: Ole! (Applause)




Creation is the highest form of Divinity, and your
birthright. Truth is, you are creating all the time. The
central question in your life is whether you are
doing this consciously or unconsciously.
Conscious creation is what is needed now. Stop
moping. And stop thinking negative thoughts. Just
get on with it! Tomorrow awaits your choice as to
how its going to be. Call the shots! Make it happen!
You're in charge here.

- Rachana Ghatge
Brian Sullivan


An ingredient found in green tea may help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The study published in the December 2009 Natural Chemical Biology, indicates that a combination of EGCG, found in green tea, with chemical DAPH-12, may help destroy prions, amyloids and preamyloid oligomers, which are proteins that bring on the neurodegenerative diseases.
Researchers found that while EGCG could destroy weaker amyloids on their own, it needed to be mixed with DAPH-12 to destroy the stronger proteins.
There is still more research needed, however, the synergistic small-molecule combinations held considerable therapeutic potential, they said.
"Our findings are certainly preliminary and we need further work to fully comprehend the effects of EGCG in combination with other chemicals on amyloids," said co-author Dr. Martin Duennwald.
"Yet, we see our study as a very exciting initial step towards combinatorial therapies for the treatment of amyloid-based diseases."



Creation is the highest form of Divinity, and your
birthright. Truth is, you are creating all the time. The
central question in your life is whether you are
doing this consciously or unconsciously.
Conscious creation is what is needed now. Stop
moping. And stop thinking negative thoughts. Just
get on with it! Tomorrow awaits your choice as to
how its going to be. Call the shots! Make it happen!
You're in charge here.

- Rachana Ghatge