BRAIN and SPIRIT
The Power of Affirmations in our Lives
By: J. Marlando
This article begins on a premise that goes against the grain of a great many of today’s scientists who believe that we are our brains. That is, they hold the existential view that when our brain dies, the rest of the body follows and what remains for us is the time it takes to decay. Thus, our journey in life is one of “being and nothingness.”
Most of the scientists of which I speak believe that the mind is a mere epiphenomenon (a working component) of the physical brain. This implies that we humans are merely the sum total of our parts and that the idea that there is a ghost (spirit) in the machine is not too short of lunacy. College professors in great numbers agree and also like many scientists enjoy flaunting their (supposed) superior intelligence by scoffing at teleology (the study of causes in nature) and denying that there is anything spiritual whatsoever—they say that at best the brain only thinks that it is conscious and therefore keeps the body alive as long as it can. It fears death because it fears its own demise.
Actually the brain is just an organ. A marvelous, spectacular organ but an organ nevertheless! It is made up of around 100 billion neurons (AKA brain cells) and works as an intermediary between the outside and inside world. *For example, experiences in the world affect how a child’s brain wires itself. Happy and sad experiences not only have their emotional impact but impact on how the brain structures itself. So if mom and dad scream a lot at one another, they are doing more than making their child cry, they are actually shaping the child’s developing brain. All good and bad experiences even in the crib will eventually reveal themselves in the child’s personality.
For millenniums it was believed that consciousness is seated in the brain. But these days there are some modern scientists agreeing that consciousness is throughout the body. In fact, there are some physicists who offer that consciousness is both inside and outside the body. After some five hundred years (actually since Rene Descartes –1596-1650) spiritualism is creeping back into our reality with some quantum physicists being more than just receptive to the idea that mind (or consciousness) permeates all matter.
But with all the miraculous abilities of the brain, it is still a mere physical part (organ) performing its functions not a whole lot different than the hard drive of the computer I am writing these words on. Indeed, I just hit “save” which told the computer’s “brain-works” to remember what I’ve written so far. Only a virus, serious malfunction or total destruction can remove or lose the data I’ve told it to save. Our brains work very similar to this. Except for what it does automatically, like keeping our circulation going and our immune system working, it is a blank slate until it is told what to do and therefore what to think. Indeed, **Dr. Paul Pearsall tells us that:
…the “I”, the self, is much more than the
reverberations of neurons and we are much
more than we “think” we are. We are also
what we believe, hope, feel, and sense. We
can tell the brain not only what, but how
The implications here are obvious, we are not our brains and our brains are not us! The rest of the article is based on that conclusion.
*The brain responds and forms itself from the environment in which it is born and the experiences it encounters probably from fetus to grave. If a child is neglected or left hungry or given great affection and attentiveness, the child’s brain will develop accordingly. The brain is also equipped to protect the body (and so itself) from outside forces which give us the flight or fight response. Nevertheless, the brain is a mere physical part not too much unlike the liver, heart or skin but much more complex of course.
**Super Joy * Paul Pearsall * Bantam Books
Aspect of the Spiritual and the Physical
While there are countless opinions, there are but two fundamental beliefs. One belief is based on the mechanical world view held by the reductionists—those who hold that we and everything else in existence are the totality of our parts and nothing more. As a result, the idea of having a spirit or soul is classified as superstition, wishful thinking or pure folly by the materialistic world view held by the rather large population of so-called and self-acclaimed intellectuals I’m referring to.
On the opposite side of this same coin is the other belief: the belief based on the more traditional view of the universe as being a living organism imbued by both spirit and divinity. This view concludes that there is meaning and purpose in existence and that existence itself has evolved out of much more than a mere accidental explosion called the Big Bang occurring some 13.7 billion years ago. After all, even if it is true—and science tells us that it is all but a given—that entire universe once existed as a singularity in a form smaller than a subatomic particle before it exploded into the world that we now call our own, the spiritual is not necessarily made void. First of all, how did the particle get packed and how did life (or in other words consciousness) arrive out of all the debris that followed the big bang and spread across that ancient sea of nothingness?
I have a theory that answers both questions but the point here is merely that there is simply no more proof for the absence of the spiritual than there is for the presence of the spiritual. However, quantum mechanics (The new science) have been tipping the scales in favor of the spiritual for decades now.
First of all the wave/particle nature of say, the electron is a subtle indication of the spiritual. Before the electron is observed it is both matter and energy with the potential (or possibility) of becoming one or the other depending on the observer. In either state, however, it is still what it is…an electron! We can assume that it does not lose its information in the wave state any more than it does in the particle state. Applying this same observation to ourselves when, like the butterfly we leave our “chrysalis” behind, exiting our physical cocoon, a function we call death, and return to our spiritual/wave selves, we maintain our personalities since energy clearly does not lose its information.
Remember nothing outside our selves is as it appears. The tree outside your window changes every time you observe it. Yet, if you could see it at quantum levels you would observe it as a form of vibrating quantum phenomenon and not at all what your brain now describes as a tree.
The truth is that you have never actually seen a picture on your wall, but rather like the tree, you have only seen your brains interpretation of the picture. In view of all this we can safely conclude that, as the ancient sages told us, life (matter) is illusion.
Calling the material world illusion doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. It only means it isn’t what it appears to be. After all, there is mysticism in existence that seems to be operating above time and space and this I believe to be the spiritual—some call it Mind, others name it Consciousness while still others say it is God.
I do not claim to know but for purposes here what is important to grasp is that our brains are not us—the “I’ of us (call it soul or spirit,) operates the “machine” and the “machine” only thinks that it is us. In this view, it is my hypothsis that the body is manifested by the spirit as opposed to being a manifestation of the spirit. The brain then becomes the operational center for the spirit’s will to experience the physical.
I do not ask anyone to accept my conclusions only to think about them since they are the root of what I am suggesting in this article.
The “I” of Us
Your brain operates much like the genie in the bottle. That is, your wishes are your brain’s command. If you read the above section you will know that the world we see out there is illusion or, in the least, that it is different than we see it. This is not mystical, quantum ponderings; this scientifically applies to the so-called touch/feel world of things. In regard to this, *Darryl Reanney tells us: “The eye of the bee can see ultraviolet light, which we cannot. When a bee sees certain kinds of flowers, it sees strange markings invisible to us. These markings map out a guidance grid, a landing track, to steer the bee to the flower’s nectar.
So what the bee sees is not what we see…” What he is getting at is that, “The ‘real’ flower exists as an infinite bundle of mathematical options, a spectrum of possibilities and each of those ‘possibilities’ can become ‘real’ according to the organ that perceives it.” How we see the world, the world becomes…for us! If, for example, we tell our brain that the rose bush is a thorn bush our brain will project it as such. That which is projected is reflected back into the brain as reality!
Now pay attention here because you are going to learn how you create your own world and how to consciously create it happier, more loving. fun and productive.
First, let’s work on recreating ourselves to be healthier and happier than perhaps you ever thought possible.
*Candace Perk the world renowned neuroscientist asked us this: “Is your consciousness in your head?” She answered her own question: “No, it’s in your whole body. I no longer believe in disease at all. Disease is a hundred percent mental. It is just your brain state being reflected in your body.”
The question is exactly what then creates a negative or disease orientated brain state? It could take volumes to answer this question but hopefully the following will suffice to give the reader a clear idea.
We’ll begin with childhood. A child who, for example, is called slow or stupid by the significant others in his life will sooner be convinced of his or her shortcomings. Once the brain is convinced it will supply the chemicals to create the reality. As some doctors say, the child that is, for example, called slow that child’s brain might then influence that child’s liver, heart or some other part of the body to be “slow” and therefore unhealthy.
When we can grasp that our brains, while having the genetic instructions of keeping our body’s going, knows nothing accept what it is told by ourselves and the authority in our lives, we realize that the brain is a servant and not at all a master. This is why sick kids invariably get well when Mom says, “don’t worry, you’ll be just fine” They know Mom loves them and would never lie to them, the brain believes that Mom is right and begins the healing process.
This is why I have said over and over that it is destructive for especially parents to call their children names like slow, stupid, clumsy, lazy and bad. After a while the brain is apt to believe the label and create the chemicals to support it. The irony is that we can also be our own worst enemies without realizing it. Here is a short list of affirmations people typically give themselves:
This makes me sick
I’ll die if I have to go
That’s a pain
I can’t stomach it
It’s a real headache
I’d rather die
I just don’t feel good about it
It’s enough to give you a heart attack
The entire thing is nauseous
You, the reader, can easily add to the above list but the point is that the “I” of us instructs the brain in this way. Let’s look at the supposition in another way—the child looks at a dish of slimy looking cooked spinach that his or her mother insists he or she must eat. The child is forced to take a bite and it makes him or her sick to try and swallow the slimy substance. Well, it is not the vegetable that is making the child sick. It is the child’s message to his or her own brain that the gooey green stuff is, what else, “sickening.”
Taking this to another level, it becomes obvious that the child is in charge of his or her brain and that it clearly isn’t the other way around.
American Natives knew this long before modern day psychologists did. In fact, a major tool that medicine men and women used to heal the sick was to chant over and over again to the sick person that they were well and back to normal health. Sometimes the chanting went on for hours and sometimes day after day but when the ill person’s brain accepted the affirmation it began producing healing chemicals.
As a quick aside, this is precisely why I am so opposed to doctors telling their patients that they have terminal diseases. Physicians after all are authority figures and if they say you’re going to die (or never heal) your brain is going to be receptive to rendering its immune system weak.
We are not only speaking of physical health here. Here’s another list of affirmations that the brain also typically receives and consequently acts upon:
I hate my job
My marriage just isn’t working
I can’t get ahead
I’m just bored out of my mind
I never have any energy
Nothing ever works out for me
I’m so depressed
I just can’t grasp it
I’ll never be able to do it
I feel just like giving up
Again, you, the reader, will be able to add to this list as well but the point remains, our brains work much like the fabled genie in the bottle who grants us whatever we wish and this is no doubt why the wise old saying tells us, be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.
Is all this separation of mind and body mere conjuncture?
The science writer **Judith Hooper suggests that one day, “A futuristic biofeedback apparatus linked to a blood analyzer might train a person to crank out more antibodies or to mobilize natural killer cells. Faith healing, the placebo effect, laying on hands, even voodoo, is coming out of the twilight zone and into the fine print of learned journals.”
This trend, if you wish to call it that was started years ago by ***Dr. Bernie Siegel (who I had the privilege to interview twice), who told us this:
Today many scientists think we should not talk
about a central nervous system and an endocrine
system and an immune system, but rather one
healing system that constitutes a sort of super
intelligence within us. Just as that healing system
can be set in motion by self-affirming beliefs,
self-negating or repressive emotional patterns can
do the reverse. As Woody Allen said in one of his
movies, “I can’t express anger, I internalize it
and grow a tumor instead.
I will leave the reader to contemplate this on his or her own. Let’s talk more directly about mind, brain and spirit.
*After Death * Darryl Reamney *William Morrow and Comapny
** *** The Three-Pounbd Universe * Judith Hooper and Dick Terisi * G.P. Putman’s Sons
*Peace, Love & Healing * Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. * Harper & Row
Note: Bernie was first to tell us that love is physiologic
Mind, Myth and Miracles
As indicated earlier, a great many of today’s scientists, scholars and other intellectuals scoff at the very thought of mind and/or consciousness being anything other than a component of the working brain; a phenomenal attribute of a physical process but a physical process all the same. They despise any thought or view that supports vitalism and only supports the empirical as being the alpha and omega of all that actually is. That is, to them, anything that cannot be reduced to its smallest part is either myth or madness. Even consciousness is questioned by these materialists because consciousness cannot be weighed or dissected. These days those “materialists” of whom I speak are caught up in the aspects of artificial intelligence and genetics giving rise to the famous Richard Dawkins observation that tells us, “We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known to us as genes.”
With the above in mind it is difficult to, if you will, put the “ghost” back into the machine and so making a case for the spiritual being ever as actual as the physical is. Quantum mechanics has come close to accomplishing this goal but stops short at the doorstep of vitalism or, for that matter, mysticism in any of its traditional roles.
In regard to the above, we will first, ask the apparent question—are we really mere gene machines?
Science today is not quite as blindsided as they were even fifty years ago. Most are at least willing to consider that consciousness exists and yet they are still, by and large, claiming that if it does exist it is necessarily a brain-function. Therefore the consensus is that when the brain dies, consciousness blinks out much like a light bulb does when it burns out. In this, they agree wholeheartedly with Robert Burn’s metaphor of the snowflake in the river—once white and then gone forever.
Let us turn to *Jeremy Hayward, the renowned molecular biologist who tells us this: “…the people interested in consciousness now realize that even if they were to find a set of neurons that they decide are the neurons that cause consciousness, there is still going to be a major problem. There is a radical difference between (1) **Francis Crick’s knowing that a set of neurons in his own brain is making Crick himself conscious of seeing a rose, and (2) Cricks own experience of seeing a rose. Do you see what I am saying? Even if those neurons are doing the experiencing, there is a radical difference between saying they are doing the experiencing, and the actual experiencing of the “I” who is doing the experiencing. There is a radical difference between the firing of neurons that make me see the rose and my experience of seeing a rose. You just simply cannot get from one to the other.”
Let’s return directly to the subject of the brain for a few moments. Our brains create the exterior world based on the data given it by ourselves and others and by our experiences. That is, we “see” life from a kind of duel prospective—what it is and how we project it to be. Let’s take the words your reading on this page. You assume that is your eyes that are doing the seeing. We’ll turn back to Darryl Reanney to explain why this is not so: “The way that we visually ‘decode’ the world in our brains have much in common by the way we decode language in our minds, and languages serves us as a useful metaphor in our struggle to find meaning in all of this. When you read the words on this page, what is happening is that a particular pattern of electromagnetic (light) waves is exciting the retina of your eyes, and the brain is translating that pattern into meaningful images on the basis of past experience. You can read these words, not because your eyes are transmitting encrypted messages to your mind, but because during childhood you learned to recognize sets of symbols and to understand the grammatical relationship among them. It is this learned ‘structure’ in the brain that is actually doing the ‘seeing.’”
The other phenomenon of how we “see” things is called “projection.” It is through projection that we create the world out there and give it meaning. If for example the “I” of us tells our brain that we “hate” going to a certain function or “love” going, our brains will accommodate us by creating the chemicals to manufacture resentment and anger or enjoyment and celebration. In this way the world absolutely is what we make it! Remember the example of spinach making the child sick because the child projected it as being sickening. In this same way we are in control of our own reality which, by the way, gives tremendous argument in favor of free will. Free Will does not mean that we can change the world for anyone else of course—we can’t “project” sunshine when it is snowing but we can decide to see the falling snow as beautiful and invigorating or cold and annoying. And whatever we decide, that snowy day will become!
In this same light, we are helpless to “will” the cranky, angry individual to cheer up and be more cordial and receptive. Yet, we can project our love onto the person and therefore create him or her as lovable in our own eyes as opposed to anything negative. In this way, even other people in the world become images of our own making; negative or positive projections reflecting back to us and corresponding to our own moods and concepts. In this life, our racism and sexism can keep us from ever knowing, much less loving, certain individuals because they reflect our biases against them. From extremely early ages we are taught to label and discriminate and both the labeling and discrimination becomes absolute in our brains and this is why wars are fought and why some people harm other people often without conscience. Indeed, once the brain is convinced of something, the spirit is apt to yield to its physical dominance—this is why we so often hear someone say, I just knew I was doing the wrong thing but…I did it anyway.
The above observation can obviously drive us into a maze of countless topics but the major point we’re attempting to make here is that whenever we become spiritually neglectful and begin giving our brains negative information, our brains begin manufacturing or, in other words, creating negative results.
When bad things happen in our lives most of us quickly turn back toward the spiritual but for the wrong reason. That is as a calling out for some miracle to change our negative circumstances. Most commonly hoping for or wanting a miracle never seems to manifest but…there is a reason for this. We should never seek the miracle but rather the miracle maker…ourselves!
Is it human ego or pomposity that drives any of us to believe that we simple mortals are miracle makers? Once again, it depends on your perspective. For example, if you believe that you are a victim or life’s challenges and project victimization into the universe, you no doubt will create a poor me reality. On the other hand if you project yourself as victorious amidst life’s challenges you will create just the opposite. Then miracle is that you have changed your destiny by, if you will, changing your mind.
With all the above in mind, we can safely return to the subject of brain being likened to a genie or magician, delivering what we ask for. A problem is, however, that sometimes we ask for occurrences and results that we are not aware of. For example, if we say something like my arthritis is “killing me” or “keeping me from happiness” or “stopping me from moving my fingers,” our brains will believe us and begin to deliver the reality or arthritic experience. Remember if the neuroscientist, Candice Perk, is right, disease is your brain state being reflected in your body. Food for thought!
With this in mind, on a very conscious level we can take much more control of ourselves then most people ever do at least on conscious levels. For example, there is no greater cost of energy to say, this is going to be a great day, than it is to say this is going to be a lousy day. Or, how about:
I really love my work………………………as oppose to: I hate my job
My Marriage is great My marriage just isn’t working
I can achieve I can’t get ahead
I just feel happy I’m just bored out of my mind
I just have all this enthusiasm I never have any energy
Something good will happen Nothing ever works out for me
I just feel so exuberant I’m so depressed
What a great challenge I just can’t grasp it
I can do anything I set my mind to doing I’ll never be able to do it
I feel great I feel lousy
I love you I hate you
What we’re saying with the above lists is that positive projections just as negative projections are choices and not conditions—there are exceptions of course but during ordinary times the affirmation is given before the event. Can words really be this powerful? It is interesting to me that we are told that “In the beginning was the word.” And how might this be? I personally tend to agree wholeheartedly with Joseph Chilton Peirce who states:
Mind mirrors the universe that mirrors man’s mind. Creator and Created give rise to each other.
We have covered a lot of territory in this short narrative and hopefully I have given the reader a lot to think about. The major message is the supposition that we are not our brains but that our brains are complex and powerful tools that serve us; that assist us in our transformation between the spiritual (or energy) phase into the physical (or particle) phase of being. That is, as the necessary mechanical function that permits the self and the body to enjoy unity. The physicist David Bohm might call this the weaving of the implicate and explicate to create wholeness. This is why it is acceptable to say that each of our brains act upon the rest of the world, changing it, adapting it and deconstructing and reconstructing it through conscious and unconscious choice alone. In fact, as I write these words, I glance out my office window and see a gray sky and a lot of wind blowing through the trees. I can make the experience a beautiful spring day or a gray and despondent day. Whatever I choose to call it, my brain will supply the chemicals it takes to create the reality for me.
None of this is really isn’t as complicated as it might sound—the child walks home in the late evening and sees shadows lurking in the bushes. The message that he sends his brain is that there may well be monsters making those shadows so his brain projects scary things or images into the bushes giving the child feelings of danger and fear. Soon enough the child is running as fast as he can to get home and save himself from those realities. In this way his brain has, in effect, changed his world to conform to the messages it was been given. It has, if you will, been the good genie creating the shadowy world that the child perceived.
The question is, was there truly monsters in the bush? The answer is, absolutely…for the child who projected them.
You can test all this in quite a wonderful and beautiful way. Begin looking at others, those you know and yes, even strangers, and say to them, silently to yourself, “I love you.” Do this for a day or so and see what happens to your world.
How we see the world and so how we see others is not only because of the particular human apparatus we’ve been gifted with, but is a response also to the totality of our human experiences. If we have become a person who projects love and kindness onto the world, the world will reflect love and kindness. If we are a person who projects distrust and hatefulness at the world, the world will reflect distrust and lots to hate. Whatever we decide the world is today, our brains will construct the reality. This is why it is said that, whatever you seek, you will always find.
After Death * Darryl Reanney *William Morrow and Company
Letters to Vanessa *Jeremy W. Hayward * Shambala
The Three-Pound Universe * Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi *G.P. Putman’s Sons
Peace, Love and Healing*Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.*Harper and Row
Wholeness and the Implicate Order*David Bohm* Routledge