The Life of the Bead

Dear Diary,

Wonder if all this spiritual angst people go on about is really just a nagging, subterranean feeling of guilt.

According to Christian philosophy, the love of beautiful things like beads and fashionable clothes is just trivial and materialistic. There is a deep, deep-grained antipathy to ‘materialism’ in our Christian-valued society. So much so that I find it hard to shake off.

Life_of_Beads_2015-08-11 16.22.01I found myself feeling happy just because I found and bought the ideal little strand of colourful Murano glass beads, on sale for only $50 AUD. Bright yellow they are, with lively little dots of colour: vivid red, dark blue, light blue and green. Perfect for brightening up a plain white Tee with jeans.  Then I felt I shouldn’t feel happy about such things and immediately felt guilt for being so trivial and materialistic and was unhappy with myself, for not being ‘good’ or ‘high-minded’.

But Homo Sapiens have been making beads for tens of thousands of years.  Archeologists have recently uncovered an extensive and lively trade in beads during Stone Age Europe, concurrent with our earliest art works.

Prehistoric shell bead necklace.

Cro-Magnon necklace, France, 32-22,000 BCE.
(Photo by Didier Descouens, Wikkimedia)

Our long vanished cousins, the Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans even appear to have had a penchant for making personal adornments.

Trade in fashionable items and works of art is a force for good, a peaceful activity that cuts across cultures and cross-pollinates them.  Never underestimate the power of The Bead.

Thus beads have a mystical significance and behind every good piece a woman might own that she likes, there is a story behind it – how she came across them, why she liked them, who might have given them to her.  Memories hang on strings of beads as surely as the beads themselves.

‘But it’s just a bead!’ an invisible voice scolds.  Ah the mystery!  I would love to find my way out of the maze of Christian ‘values’ and work out just why love of material things is so ‘bad’.

It might be that beads breed greed and covetousness.  But there is enough of that around anyway. In fact, if we just relaxed and took pleasure in The Bead, maybe our guilt trip would not go into overdrive and we would not then go and buy a truckload of beads to compensate, but be content with a few.

Image of Coco Chanel (Author Marion Golsteijn, Source Wikkimedia)

Image of Coco Chanel (Author Marion Golsteijn, Source Wikkimedia)

The French seem to have this pleasure in artful adornments in balance with the course and purpose of their lives.  Maybe I should read more of my book ‘How to be a Parisian’ that my sister Cathie gave me.  But I’ve really also got to find a way for myself – out of the soul-deadening tedium and anguish of Christian guilt – learn to enjoy the little things in life in moderation – without guilt.

– Megan

PS: I remember seeing a bracelet in an art exhibition of ancient Egyptian treasures.  I cannot remember much of it but one bead of the bracelet was a large hunk of beautiful, almost transparent and luminous lapis lazuli, with a seal insignia carved on it, that was apparently from the deserts of Persia and already of immense antiquity when it was put in the bracelet, thousands of years ago.

Necklace of colourful Murano glass beadsIt took my breath away to imagine that astonishing length of largely unrecorded time that people went about their daily lives in – trading, working, playing, creating art. Surely no bead that evoked such thoughts and imaginings could ever be completely trivial.

Yes, I Regret Some Things…

To be honest, yes, I regret some things.  On looking over the course of my younger life, I made a lot of mistakes.  And I have spent a lot of time nursing the costs of those mistakes.

I regret not writing sooner.  Perhaps I could have avoided the mental breakdown I had that wrecked a vital part of my early adult life.  I would have had some kind of outlet, more of a sense of myself, a better sense of purpose in life…  maybe.

I regret leaving a boyfriend, a bad habit of smoking tobacco, leaving home to go to a university where a guy I was hopelessly infatuated with was also going to – with his beautiful girlfriend, not studying art and yes, I’ve done all these other things, things I’ve been ashamed of, things I wish I hadn’t done.

Damn right I regret stuff and most of all, I regret the lack of discipline and drive when young to search for the higher issues in life, to learn about the things of deeper significance in our world – of world events, politics, science and philosophy.  I regret all that time I wasted that I had in spades when young.

‘Non, je ne regrette rien!  Non, je ne regrette rien!’  Edith Piaf might sing amidst the majestic strains of her famous, iconic song.  But it exasperates me how others can so blithely say that about their lives.  Regret, they seem to say, is something only weak, inferior people feel.  It’s not something you should feel.  You should be happy with the course of your life the way it goes and be courageous about it.  Great people don’t ever regret things.  You should repress regret by denying that you ever feel it.  You should be like Piaf and go for the great, grand heroic swan dive before you die.  After all, regrets are the damnation in the shadow of your grave in a world where even the most religious believe that Hell may not exist.  Nobody wants to die with any regrets.  Dying with regrets seems to be a fate worse than death.

Scientists ponder whether the fabric of reality consists of a huge multiverse where one might be living simultaneously in literally countless numbers of them, except that in each universe one does things differently and thus there are countless different outcomes.  But somehow, we are conscious of only one life.  This one.  With each sunrise and sunset, waking and sleeping and doing and shopping we are trapped in it, day after day.

From Philosophy Quotes on Twitter came a missive one day remarking ‘there is no one best future’.  And yes that may be right.  Of all the possible outcomes the mighty multiverse may hold of the simultaneous courses of all our different lives so far, how do we know which is the best one?

Maybe if I’d married that former boyfriend it might have exploded in a mess of marital vituperative and custody battles at 20 paces in one life, for instance.  Maybe I would have had success as a writer and banged out a number of best sellers, only never to really understand what the process of writing really can do in terms of sense-making and discovery.

On the other hand, I could perhaps have had a brilliantly fulfilling life without the marring shadow of mental illness at all.  Maybe I could have a number of best futures out there along with the worst ones and this one I’m in right now is the middling, slogging, muddling-through one.  Ahh, subjunctive mode:  ‘If I had have known X, I would not have done Y’…

My life has been an unpredictable life of accidents, maybe of forces I am not entirely in control of.  Who does have total control over the forces of circumstances in their lives?  Some get lucky, others labour under the shadow of a sudden landslide who might have had similar if not more success by being in the right place at the right time.  Sometimes taking one’s perfectly good chances doesn’t pay off.  Is it healthy to measure oneself up to some ideal of the perfect, soaring, regret-free life?  Especially if there is no one best future.

I came across an old high-school teacher I had for Social Science on a Friends Reunited website.  On his profile, he said something like that he was glad he never had one single purpose in his life, that he’d gone wherever life accidentally led him, whatever he took an interest in at the moment.

But it is not easy to live the slow, winding, discursive, unpredictable life of accidents.  Regret is a raw, human emotion in the midst of attempting to look at things in a new light.  It can be a way of treating the hurt gained through the bad accidents and stuff-ups in life by revisiting that invisible cross-road, reflecting on it, trying to do something about it before it’s too late – to treat people better, to make the most of any second chances, to learn from past mistakes.

Regret can be an acknowledgement of responsibility too.  I imagine the regret one would feel in killing someone in a car accident would be acute and life-long.  No conscionable person would feel otherwise.  There would always be that sense of what might-have-been if one had taken more care, taken a different route, or not gone out for a drive at all that day.

Perhaps refusing to acknowledge regret, to suppress feeling regret could be the worst thing one could do.  Because after the initial pain, can come reflections, realisations, plans of action for the future.  Regret – painful as it is – can be helpful in the process of learning from mistakes, which is one of the important, life-changing lessons anyone can learn.  It can help one survive, make the most of what they have, live in the present and become a better person.

I had a number of personal convictions when young and one of them was to be free to make my own mistakes.  Now a litany of errors over the course of the last 30 plus years since then is staring at me.  Looking back maybe I said that too lightly, because I did not fully realise then how some mistakes can hurt, cripple, maim and even kill.  Mistakes were a romantic theory in my young mind – I who wanted to sally forth into the chaos of an uncertain future, take risks and repudiate forever, the dull, safe bet.

Regret has taught me that living is a constant act of becoming, that you should never be afraid of taking risks and making changes, but that you always need a Plan B before rushing off blithely off into Plan A.  That sometimes a dull, safe bet can be a good, responsible one and give much in the way of personal happiness.  Also that you should never, under any circumstances, go rushing off into The Blue without any plans at all.

So regret comes with the territory of a human life and frank acknowledgment of it can be a part of the process of living more wisely.  But also regrets can bring one back to earth and place one in a better position to take whatever other chances that come by in this strange, unpredictable and accidental life we all lead…

What the New Age Movement Stole

I came across an SMH article the other day about a young lass called Jessica Ainscough who says she is healing herself from cancer, courtesy of the ‘alternative’ Gerson Therapy Dedicating her life to following and disseminating its principles, this talented writer has settled on the Sunshine Coast making a living as a freelance writer, speaker and blogger.  Criticised as quackery by ‘conventional’ medical practitioners (such as Orac on ScienceBlogs), the whole story about Gerson Therapy has got me deeply concerned about the claims people make about treating deadly diseases such as cancer with ‘alternative treatments’.

What made me really sad was the death of Jessica’s mother Sharyn Ainscough of breast cancer while practising the Gerson Therapy and believing it was working right to the end.  Orac points out in his post that describing worsening symptoms as Jessica does: ‘flare-ups’ is typical of the language of denial that quacks use.  But as horrible as it was to read how Sharyn was actually developing satellite lesions in addition to her main breast tumour all couched in the language of false hope, rationalisation and denial, it was even worse to read some of the comments.  Several of them are hauntingly mirroring Sharyn’s terrible ordeal, like this one:

Well Jess as you know I’ve had a rough week – and it’s still going! I guess that is the bit that scares me the most, the time that this flareup is lasting. I have had a constant stream of flareups but this is by far the worst – I am week 23. I can visually see my breast tumour, which was roughly 8 cm, breaking down in front of my eyes. This last week the dent is getting bigger and bigger, so I’m guessing my body is having a hard time keeping up with the whole process. I’m currently going from the lounge to the juicer and struggling to eat (rare for me I’m always hungry) Every joint aches in my body intensely, my shoulders I couldn’t move much for a few days, I feel like I’ve been poisoned, I am having welcoming fevers on and off, night sweats (so much washing), very depressed at times, and now today my rib cage on the opposite side of my tumour is so tender. If I didn’t have that big dent I would be very worried though. I am so glad I have fellow Gerson friends like you and Sharyn to vent with. So for any of you Gerson patients out there going through a similiar thing I hope that my openness helps you a little too. Keep the faith!! Jess thanks for always sharing. And I must say Charlotte, thanks for always caring! xx

And this one:

Dear Jess,

U and your mum are such an inspiration! I have a 3 year old son with leukemia(ALL) .He was diagnosed in late 2009 and currently in the maintenance phase of treatment. I did purchase and read on The Gerson Theraphy book. I have not been able to follow 100% of the requirements, as my son is still a little boy.
My prayers are with u and your mum

And this:

I have been going through the same stuff as your mom for about two weeks. I feel as well that there is a strand of pearls going through my boob that has the breast cancer. Not only that I have an awful rash that I use to have when I was pregnant with my third child and it covers from my waist down. I’ve been on the Gerson diet for a little over a year. I really enjoy it but I do get a bit scared and discouraged sometimes due to these healing reactions that I wasn’t sure that they were healing reactions. I’m happy that I found your blog. I found it very comforting Thank you

It’s worse to think of the influence that Jessica Ainscough’s espousal of this fraudulent Gerson Therapy is having on others and the heavy responsibility she must bear in leading people to quietly hideous deaths, often as Orac points out, without the comfort of modern palliative care.

Ainscough’s  blog is all sweetness and light, full of the kind of beautiful, idyllic seaside scenes I knew on the North NSW coast as a child.  Fabulous pictures of organic food feasts abound and it is followed and liked by hordes of beautiful people, smiling and wearing garlands of flowers and all sending each other rays of love sunshine.

It’s Orac’s opinion that sadly, Jessica Ainscough will probably die of the cancer.  That statistically for her kind of cancer and without surgery she very likely has at most a few more years.  She could have chosen Western medicine at the outset, had her arm amputated and gone on to do something worthwhile.  Now she lives a pretense of a life urging others to make believe as well, a practice which has deadly consequences.

While it’s clearly unethical to be promoting quack treatment to people suffering from cancer, she seems to really believe that the Gerson therapy can effectively treat cancer.  On the other hand, how much in the face of all the facts should she have accepted rather than preferred to believe otherwise?

As a teenager, I embraced the cause of the hippie movement that originated in the 1960s.  I loved their casual, carefree approach to life and their love of all things natural.  Many of them became farmers and these days the organic/biodynamic food industry is big business.  The north-east coast of Australia, where I grew up, has since become a mecca for this post-hippie or alternative lifestyle movement.  The weather there is mild all the year around, the landscape is beautiful and green and lush and a pristine beach is always nearby.

But there is a dark side to the alternative lifestyle movement, an embrace of a tribal/quasi-religious mentality, an abandonment of a rational way of thinking and a deep distrust of science and particularly Western ‘conventional’ medicine.  It’s no coincidence that the highest numbers of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children live in these richly salubrious surrounds where the living is so easy it is hard to imagine that there can be any terror, pain or death in it like whooping cough or my grandmother’s especial fear, diptheria.

But I believe that our human relationship with the earth is much more complex.  Western science and medicine has given us a standard of health and living that people have come to expect as a given.  It’s a given that most infants don’t die in childbirth and that most are likely to survive to old age.  It’s a given that people in this country won’t sicken and die of smallpox or leprosy.

It’s so ironic that a generation steeped in the unprecedented knowledge, medical and technological advances of our time can still produce so many people who willfully refuse to accept that they were given any advantages.  And it’s so easy to believe that eating organic fruit and vegetables actually heals illnesses like cancer when courtesy of modern medicine, you were born whole.

An old school friend of mine has immersed herself deep into New Age woo.  She originally wanted to be an archeologist, but at our reunion 30 years later she told me that her and her boyfriend were working at some kind of naturopathic institution that included fertility therapy.  These days, she makes enough of a living as a reiki astrologer to be regularly trotting off to places like the south of France, while I struggle to find the positives in a relentless slog of a job in a government department.

But I couldn’t bring myself to live life so lightly like my friend.  There is something about the stern, dark, serious side of life I do not want to let go of.  I am concerned for instance about the environment, because the majority of scientists concur that global warming was caused by man and has dire and impending consequences and want to do something that really does help others.

The New Age movement has taken over the green, undulating lands of my early childhood, where our family climbed Mount Warning and spent so many days exploring the lush forests of coachwood, figs, palms, liana vines and black bean trees, where the whip-bird calls in the cool green shadows and the explorer’s feet treads soft over moist dark mulch.  Now I want to take that beauty and mystery back, with science and good old rational thinking.

In my urban exile, I don’t want to only think only of the good things in life, because I seek a balance between the serious and the light.  Thus the city becomes my quarry just like we used to search the old quarry with its deep, green pool and tumble of dark rocks for ancient forms of life to think and reflect on.

Krishnamurti and the Distance From the Face of the Earth

Why is Truth a pathless land (as Krishnamurti says), when every human, every living thing has to make a way? I wonder if he knows what he means by Truth.

*Is Truth what happens; what is?
The great thing about Truth is, no-one can really know what it is for sure so anyone can make up whatever rhubarb they like about it.  And Krishnamurti was a master of the art of Rhubarb.  For someone who professed to have no answers and no advice, this singularly useless individual had done a Hell of a lot of talking and writing in his lifetime.  Volumes of his transcripts and writings fill the dusty stacks of some large public libraries and that is by no means all of them.

An ex-lover of mine used to go to Kings Cross (in the 1980s) on the 2nd Saturday of every month and, dragging me with him, would stand for what seemed hours watching film of the great man – who refused to call himself a guru – talk non-stop in a kind of convoluted cerebral monologue laced with an affectation of endless, if somewhat detached love of life before crowds of attentive people.

Again and again I would strain to work out any sense of what he said, but the essence of what he said was invariably the same.  In amongst all the metaphors flowering in his great meadow of Life was the same old equation:

What is rhubarb = What is not rhubarb and vice versa

and ‘Stop trying to work out what I mean, you lot of inferior listeners!  If you are intelligent enough to understand what rhubarb I am about to say, then you will see my point’

What he did not cover was the exotic caramel-nut sweet, languorous, straw-like scent of the palm tree rustling in this dull, rainy cool afternoon and wondering what sunny tropical island it would have come from.

The day – early afternoon now – is grey and the colours under their light dusting of drizzle are fresh and vivid hues of green and yellow. The black asphalt road shines a silver sheen of damp and the air pulses with a hot, white light.  Crimson rosellas screech delightedly in the Bottle-brush trees waving gently in the breeze.  A cloud has shifted, revealing a patch of china blue sky.  Summer has remitted its debt of sun, but only for a moment.  It starts to sprinkle again and so the ephemeral moment of the present moves on.

‘A profoundly sick society…’ – says Krishnamurti. But human society is what it is, has been for all this time.  There are lots of pious pronouncements from detached saints, gurus and anti-gurus prescribing ways of changing things.  But they miss the point.  Railing against the ‘sickness’ of society – of the endless folly and empty materialism of the world can be just another excuse for refusing to accept humanity, of refusing to engage with life and this, our only world.  You have to forgive at least a part of it.  And those who feel so cleft from the face of the earth, must find a way to live on it.

***

*27/12/10 – personal journal entry

Pop Trivia Day

I really have more important things to do and because of that I’ve been engrossed in the public argument between the veteran singer Sinead O’Connor and the brash, young pop star Miley Cyrus.  What the hell it’s Saturday, sunny but mid-spring cool outside and I’ve slept in, had breakfast, had lunch, haven’t gone out and am just doing what I fucking well like.

Over the past weeks, I’ve been reading about Cyrus’s notoriously provocative antics at the MTV Video Music Awards 1913 and all the online commentary.  Then she released her single ‘Wrecking Ball’ to a routinely naughty video, citing O’Connor’s iconic song ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ as an influence.  Apparently unwilling to endorse Cyrus’s product,  O’Connor penned an open letter ‘in the spirit of motherliness’ to Cyrus advising her of the perils of provocative antics in the harshly exploitative and perfidious music industry and of the danger it represents to young women in everyday life.

You would think a heedless, vacuous chit like Cyrus would just tell her to stick it, but she did worse than that.  She tweeted a screen grab of O’Connor’s public battle with a serious mental illness and made a mockery of it – and a mockery of her lone, brave protest against the Catholic Church’s history of child abuse years before the evil spilled out of the closets into full public disclosure.  It was a cruel, demeaning gesture and offensive to people suffering from mental illness everywhere.

O’Connor hit back with threats of legal action as she pointed out the damage this rehash of her bi-polar episode, with the suggestion that it was current, was doing to her career.  Movingly, she said how hard it is to get work when people assume you are mentally ill.  But Cyrus is blithely sitting on a fortune, her latest output parading around the tops of the pop charts and her spangled, uncaring, blaring, laughing bandwagon moves on.

Why do I care?  Well for one thing, this isn’t news about the devastation of wars, pollution or people dying.  It’s news for the living room, for people like me living in comfortable, ordinary suburbia with regular problematic jobs to go to on Monday and the weekly shopping to do sometime soon.  It’s something to think about:  whether there is justice in the world or such a thing as karma.  Are passionate, idealistic, creative individuals like O’Connor forever doomed to be scratching for a living, or can we see it that she is in some way mightily blessed?  That her life, full of unhappy struggle and thrown in the dirt as it was, is nevertheless a true, beautiful and authentic one?

Sir Tony Abbott and the City of God

Today, dour and overcast, is the day after the night before.  The 2013 federal election in Australia has been fought and won by the conservatives again and us as a family watched the strange posthumous battle of vote-counting develop to see most of the Labor marginal seats fall to the Liberal National Party.  Still the grave former Defence Minister Stephen Smith said he would be pleased to see any number of Labor seats ‘with a five in front of it’, and they got there, with 54 confirmed seats so far.

But as Kevin Rudd’s cheerful defeat gives over to Tony Abbott’s strained rictus-grin of victory, I am reminded of an observation the journalist David Marr makes of the victor: ‘What makes next week, let alone next year, so peculiarly hard to predict, is this romantic notion that a better person will emerge once he gets there: a Tony Abbott that resolves the old contradictions between the principled Catholic and the ruthless populist who has got him where he will be tonight.’

But where does Tony Abbott, with all his scholarly acumen, get the idea that somehow the alchemy of public office will magically transform him into some sort of divinity?  Isn’t it up to himself to resolve what moral dilemmas come his way, for instance whether to take action on Syria or not?  Or yet see the moral turpitude of incarcerating wretched asylum seekers trying to reach our shores in concentration camps?  Surely the idea that the very fact of being in power will somehow enforce a discipline to the soul and thus take him to the City of God is utterly naive?

Didn’t a certain British historian, politician and writer, Lord Acton remark that ‘all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’? It’s interesting that he himself was a Catholic.

As accounts of his personal life go, Tony Abbott seems to have veered between the pleasures of the flesh and the sanctity of chaste priesthood – and turned out to his apparent disappointment a Sir Lancelot rather than the saintly and irreproachable Sir Galahad, who did find the Holy Grail and died a very holy death.  Maybe it’s not so surprising that Sir Abbott’s journey consists of such a longing for the redemption that he imagines the demands of political power to bring, as if Parliament House was the City of God and that celestial virtue (which was never his own) will descend accordingly and settle itself on his shoulders like a royal cloak.

‘The ancient world found an end to anarchy in the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire was a brute fact, not an idea.’  Writes the philosopher Bertrand Russell as a preface to his chapters on modern philosophy in his ‘A History of Western Philosophy’.  ‘

‘The Catholic world sought an end to anarchy in the Church, which was an idea, but was never adequately embodied in fact.  Neither the ancient nor the medieval solution was satisfactory – the one because it could not be idealized, the other because it could not be actualized.  The modern world, at present, seems to be moving towards a solution like that of antiquity: a social order imposed by force, representing the will of the powerful rather than the hopes of common men.  The problem of a durable and satisfactory social order can only be solved by combining the solidity of the Roman Empire with the idealism of St. Augustine’s City of God.  To achieve this a new philosophy will be needed’.

The ‘will of the powerful’ verses ‘the hopes of common men’.  Already Tony Abbott is enmeshed in the demands of the will of powerful men.  The media magnate Rupert Murdoch, whose phone-hacking scandals have disgraced him to the world, has supported the LNP with a vociferous campaign of some of the most ethically challenged journalistic bias in media history.  Abbott may quite rightly claim that he owes the old fox Murdoch nothing, but he also said nothing in protest about his unconscionable media juggernaut.

Abbott says he will govern for all Australians, but what does he know about the hopes of common men?  His main appeal to common people is to their individualistic material aspirations, of taking away superannuation for low income earners to fund parental leave for upper middle-class women.  He spurns anything to do with unions and their historic, hard-fought campaigns for a better way of life for everybody.  In fact he was heavily involved in the ill-fated ‘Work Choices’ campaign of a previous conservative government to take those rights away.  In a working world of term-contracts, casual work and imported labour, workers in the future may have to fight for better pay and conditions all over again.

It is all so easy in the City of God to propound on what is right and what is good in the imagination of the exalted ecstasy of faith.  But Middle-Earth, a place where the struggle for survival against circumstance and uncertainty is perpetual, has a way of muddying and obscuring such gems of ideals under clods of earth, whereby what seems fine on a mountain means foul to those who live beneath its shadow.

I will be watching Sir Abbott’s journey as Prime Minister with interest.  Is he aware, or is he blind?

Biocentrism and its detractors

Today was a bleak day.  I did not go to work because of trouble getting up in the morning.  I hate to say depressed although things like having a shower, or fixing lunch is so hard and takes so long to do.  It is autumn and for the last couple of weeks it has been fine and hot and dry.  Indian summer.  Too much heat, too much sunshine.  I feel desolate as usual in the autumn with that falling feeling, but it is made doubly worse by the facade of joy over the reality of disintegration and decay.

I look at the meaty dun concrete and charcoal asphalt roads and footpaths with eyes that are no longer young in the melting hot over-ripe yellow of the blazing afternoon sun.  Memories activate with every impression, leaving not much more to perceive except the procession of reality, the line of moving cars, the clouds floating above and the leaves of garden shrubs and street trees waving in the breeze.  I have a mature understanding of the cityscape that I see and will never see it like a child does – all new and strange – again…

Upon reading a totally unrelated article on the Guardian website today about the evil pedophile Mr Savile, I fell into what appeared to be an advert about this scientist Robert Lanza.  Well actually it was an article by him about why he thinks there is life after death and this theory of everything called biocentrism – all about infinite multiverses and energy never being destroyed or created.

I was curious about this dude – and searched his website to see if he wasn’t some kind of wacky christian.  But no,  Robert Lanza is a respectable scientist who has published articles in The Lancet and according to Wikepedia has played a leading role in stem cell research.  Right.  According to this theory, Biocentrism, life created the universe, and reality is basically a construct of our own perceptions.

Actually this absurd philosophical theory is not new, since Berkeley in the 17th century held pretty much the same idea.  Bertrand Russell argues otherwise and quite effectively, but concedes that the philosophical problem of how we actually perceive reality – something outside ourselves – remains unsolved.  Maybe because it’s one of those things we know instinctively, but have a hard time trying to explicate.

So I googled ‘Robert Lanza – criticism’ and came across this Indian rationalist website, Nirmukta who debunks his theory exhaustively (try reading it, phew!) point by point.  And it turns out that Robert Lanza co-authored his theory with none other than that wacky new age charlatan Deepak Chopra.  Say no more!

And I’d like to say as someone with a history of schizophrenia, that there is nothing more comforting than the thought of an objective universe out there which is totally indifferent as to whether I live or die, and very importantly as to what I think.  To think that there is some almighty, inanimate Other that is out there that is not watching me, judging me, or sending me to Hell or Heaven, that is something I can explore and discover – gives me a sense of immense freedom and relief.

A particularly awful aspect of psychosis is the feeling that someone is watching you and controlling you from a distance.  And if God remains an imagined presence, the pendulum of belief swings as it must from benign love and hope to horror, paranoia and despair.  Who knows if you’re actually going to Heaven or not?  You never do as long as you believe in God and accept all of the scriptures as gospel.

It follows as a point of sanity that there is an objective universe, which the self was born from but is for the time being separate from that.  With that thought, I feel better already!