A recent item on the BBC website provides a welcome reminder of the power of the relationship between dogs and mankind.
Practically no-one is unaware of the role that dogs provide, for example, as guides for humans with sight impairment. But there’s much more to the ‘service’ dog than that.
A service dog might be described as,
“any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”
That definition is taken from the United States Code of Federal Regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990!
But then cast your eye over this, as I mentioned, from the BBC on the 26th May, 2011.
Dogs can help reduce stress in parents of children with lifelong developmental disability autism, a study suggests.
The University of Lincoln compared 20 families with dogs with 20 without.
Daniel Mills told a Royal Society of Medicine conference early results suggested any breed could improve communication and relationships.
The veterinary behavioural medicine professor hopes to use video footage to show how dogs can improve child eating, sleeping and tantrum behaviour.
At a three-day Parents’ Autism Workshops and Support course, the families listed more than a thousand ways their dog had helped – from developing language and establishing a routine to using the pet to request action in a non-confrontational way.
Full story is here in which is included Professor Mills saying: “While there is no shortage of opinion on how dogs can help, there has been little money given to scientifically look into this.”
Autism is a challenging condition and anything that can establish a scientific underpinning for the role that dogs can have is to be welcomed whole-heartedly.
Finally, there are quite a few videos online that provide more information about the special, almost magical relationship between dogs and autistic people. Here’s one that is the first part of a series of five.
A big vote of thanks to Paul for plugging away for so long without any contribution from me. Unlike Paul who is retired, well retired in the sense of a paying job, I have a family, a dog (Jess) and the usual set of household overheads to cover, so the week is very much a working week for me. Ergo, I shall never be able to contribute to Learning from Dogs in the same manner as Paul but a regular contribution is assured. To get things rolling again, I want to re-publish an article that I wrote on my business blog the other day.
Removing the fear of the unknown
I’ve been working with most of my clients recently through painful transformations brought about by the economic downturn.
An interesting metaphor really because since the first wave of uncertainty triggered panic, first noticed in the UK banking system, I have been picking up on that uncertainty that feels like it’s stalking the globe and has been for some time. Recent stock market crashes have simply exacerbated this and that, coupled with the riots taking place in major cities in the UK, make for pretty disturbing reading.
Interestingly, I, too, have been aware of an underlying fear that was difficult either to name or source.
It has been rather like a deep river in that whilst the surface feels slow-moving, currents are moving things powerfully below.
So this ‘fear’ has caused a few household changes.
1) We now are the proud owners of 12 chickens. Our youngest son and I have dug up the back lawn and planted vegetables and built a poly tunnel.
2) We have also installed a wood burning cooker. Right back down to the base of Maslow’s triangle really!
These feelings have brought about such change everywhere and I wonder seriously whether we will ever return to what was; indeed would we want to?
I might not have mentioned it in previous blogs but as well as an engineering background, in latter years, I have focused on how success in business is linked directly to aspects of relationships and how we are in our relationships with others, so things like integrity, self-awareness and the ability to see the point of view of others, and modify our approach appropriately.
To inform this, some 7 years ago, I embarked on an MA in Core Process Psychotherapy, primarily to work on myself so that I could be the best I could be in my relationships, in and out of work.
The point I’m trying to make is that the same panic I notice in many of the companies I work in, and in me, is based on fear of the unknown and on a lack of trust in all its forms. I’ve deliberately underlined that last phrase because it is so incredibly important.
The truth is that we get more of what we focus on.
So we can choose to focus on the constant news of more difficulties, hardship and redundancies, or we can focus on what is working.
In the workplace this positive focus has been pulling people together across functions and sites and pooling resources and ideas.
When we realise we’re not doing this alone it’s amazing how much lighter a load can feel and how much more inspired we all feel.
I also notice how humour begins to flow and what a powerful antidote for doom and gloom that is.
Transformation is never easy but the rewards far exceed the effort put in ten fold.
So what is it going to be? Are we all going to bow down to the god of Doom & Gloom, fear and anxiety, heaping more and more gifts around it, or are we going to start noticing and focusing on the other neglected god – that of relationship, joy, trust, abundance and lightness?
Whatever the future holds for us all a belief in our inherent ability to adapt and change and focus on the greater good rather than fear, anxiety, greed and selfishness is the only sustainable way forward.
Just wanted to add my best wishes to all Learning from Dog readers to those of Paul from yesterday.
Plus I did want to expand, just a touch, on what Paul wrote yesterday, more or less reflecting on an article by Leo Babauta. In that post, Paul quoted Leo writing:
The thing I’ve learned, and it’s not some new truth but an old one that took me much too long to learn, is that if you learn to be content with who you are and where you are in life, it changes everything.
In a very real sense what Leo is saying is that if you don’t love yourself you can’t possibly ‘love’ the world around you. Now this is incredibly easy to consider, too easy in fact, because the truth of loving oneself first is, for the vast majority of people, a complex, confusing and unclear journey, as in ‘self-journey’. Read that quote from Leo again and see how he writes, ‘an old one [as in truth] that took me much too long to learn‘.
I’m sure when Leo writes ‘too long to learn‘ he is, in effect, acknowledging the very individual circumstances that lead to a person developing the awareness that is expressed in that quote ‘if you learn to be content with who you are and where you are in life, it changes everything‘.
So if 2011 is going to be a challenging year then hang on to the only rock in your life – yourself! Embrace the reality that you, like all of us, do your best. Be good and kind to you.
On the 2nd November, I wrote an article speaking of the fabulous programme that had been aired on the BBC Two channel of BBC TV. While it was available on the BBC’s iPlayer for viewers in the UK, this is not the perfect vehicle for all those who would have been interested in watching the three episodes.
Thus I am delighted to see that the full set of three programmes has been uploaded to YouTube. They are broken down into twelve parts so to make the watching process more digestible, I propose to create three Posts with four segments in each Post. The first four video segments are below.
But to recap what was written just over a month ago.
Like many others, I saw the first episode of the BBC2 television programme, The Big Silence. It clearly touched many people. (Useful links at the very end of this article.)
I wanted to throw a bit of light on this fascinating subject. As the five people in the TV programme all readily admit, real silence is rather scary to them.
Why would something so wished for by so many – an hour doing absolutely nothing – be sufficiently scary that, in reality, the majority will do everything in their power to avoid silence?
We all have unhappy demons, OK some more than others. We start to hear them when we gift our bodies and minds the grace of real silence. I deliberately included the word ‘bodies’ even though silence is a ‘mind’ thing because resting our bodies with regular silence will also be very therapeutic for us.
What does coming to terms mean? It means giving space to those inner thoughts so that one can clearly hear them. You probably won’t make sense of them, indeed they may have a great unsettling effect, but they won’t hurt you.
Indeed, it’s when we try and stop those inner demons that they manifest themselves in many other ways: fidgeting, funny little unexplained aches, itchy skin, short-tempers, constant feeding of the ego, and on and on and on.
A good indication of what’s going on ‘under the bonnet’, so to speak, is to see if you can sit still in a relaxed manner for just 15 minutes.
Want more from that earlier Post? Here’s the link.
The death of David Bohm on 27 October 1992 is a great loss not only for the physics community but for all those interested in the philosophical implications of modern science. David Bohm was one of the most distinguished theoretical physicists of his generation, and a fearless challenger of scientific orthodoxy. His interests and influence extended far beyond physics and embraced biology, psychology, philosophy, religion, art, and the future of society. Underlying his innovative approach to many different issues was the fundamental idea that beyond the visible, tangible world there lies a deeper, implicate order of undivided wholeness.
David Bohm was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1917. He became interested in science at an early age, and as a young boy invented a dripless teapot, and his father, a successful businessman, urged him to try to make a profit on the idea. But after learning that the first step was to conduct a door-to-door survey to test market demand, his interest in business waned and he decided to become a theoretical physicist instead.
In the 1930s he attended Pennsylvania State College where he became deeply interested in quantum physics, the physics of the subatomic realm. After graduating, he attended the University of California, Berkeley. While there he worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory where, after receiving his doctorate in 1943, he began what was to become his landmark work on plasmas (a plasma is a gas containing a high density of electrons and positive ions). Bohm was surprised to find that once electrons were in a plasma, they stopped behaving like individuals and started behaving as if they were part of a larger and interconnected whole. He later remarked that he frequently had the impression that the sea of electrons was in some sense alive.
In 1947 Bohm took up the post of assistant professor at Princeton University, where he extended his research to the study of electrons in metals. Once again the seemingly haphazard movements of individual electrons managed to produce highly organized overall effects. Bohm’s innovative work in this area established his reputation as a theoretical physicist.
In 1951 Bohm wrote a classic textbook entitled Quantum Theory, in which he presented a clear account of the orthodox, Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. The Copenhagen interpretation was formulated mainly by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in the 1920s and is still highly influential today. But even before the book was published, Bohm began to have doubts about the assumptions underlying the conventional approach. He had difficulty accepting that subatomic particles had no objective existence and took on definite properties only when physicists tried to observe and measure them. He also had difficulty believing that the quantum world was characterized by absolute indeterminism and chance, and that things just happened for no reason whatsoever. He began to suspect that there might be deeper causes behind the apparently random and crazy nature of the subatomic world.
Bohm sent copies of his textbook to Bohr and Einstein. Bohr did not respond, but Einstein phoned him to say that he wanted to discuss it with him. In the first of what was to turn into a six-month series of spirited conversations, Einstein enthusiastically told Bohm that he had never seen quantum theory presented so clearly, and admitted that he was just as dissatisfied with the orthodox approach as Bohm was. They both admired quantum theory’s ability to predict phenomena, but could not accept that it was complete and that it was impossible to arrive at any clearer understanding of what was going on in the quantumrealm.
It was while writing Quantum Theorythat Bohm came into conflict with McCarthyism. He was called upon to appear before the Un-American Activities Committee in order to testify against colleagues and associates. Ever a man of principle, he refused. The result was that when his contract at Princeton expired, he was unable to obtain a job in the USA. He moved first to Brazil, then to Israel, and finally to Britain in 1957, where he worked first at Bristol University and later as Professor of Theoretical Physics at Birkbeck College, University of London, until his retirement in 1987. Bohm will be remembered above all for two radical scientific theories: the causal interpretation of quantum physics, and the theory of the implicate order and undivided wholeness.
In 1952, the year after his discussions with Einstein, Bohm published two papers sketching what later came to be called the causal interpretation of quantum theory which, he said, “opens the door for the creative operation of underlying, and yet subtler, levels of reality.” (David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order & Creativity, Bantam Books, New York, 1987, p. 88.) He continued to elaborate and refine his ideas until the end of his life. In his view, subatomic particles such as electrons are not simple, structureless particles, but highly complex, dynamic entities. He rejects the view that their motion is fundamentally uncertain or ambiguous; they follow a precise path, but one which is determined not only by conventional physical forces but also by a more subtle force which he calls the quantum potential.The quantum potential guides the motion of particles by providing “active information” about the whole environment. Bohm gives the analogy of a ship being guided by radar signals: the radar carries information from all around and guides the ship by giving form to the movement produced by the much greater but unformed power of its engines.
The quantum potential pervades all space and provides direct connections between quantum systems. In 1959 Bohm and a young research student Yakir Aharonov discovered an important example of quantum interconnectedness. They found that in certain circumstances electrons are able to “feel” the presence of a nearby magnetic field even though they are traveling in regions of space where the field strength is zero. This phenomenon is now known as the Aharonov-Bohm (AB) effect, and when the discovery was first announced many physicists reacted with disbelief. Even today, despite confirmation of the effect in numerous experiments, papers still occasionally appear arguing that it does not exist.
In 1982 a remarkable experiment to test quantum interconnectedness was performed by a research team led by physicist Alain Aspect in Paris. The original idea was contained in a thought experiment (also known as the “EPR paradox”) proposed in 1935 by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen, but much of the later theoretical groundwork was laid by David Bohm and one of his enthusiastic supporters, John Bell of CERN, the physics research center near Geneva. The results of the experiment clearly showed that subatomic particles that are far apart are able to communicate in ways that cannot be explained by the transfer of physical signals traveling at or slower than the speed of light. Many physicists, including Bohm, regard these “nonlocal” connections as absolutely instantaneous. An alternative view is that they involve subtler, nonphysical energies traveling faster than light, but this view has few adherents since most physicists still believe that nothing-can exceed the speed of light.
The causal interpretation of quantum theory initially met with indifference or hostility from other physicists, who did not take kindly to Bohm’s powerful challenge to the common consensus. In recent years, however, the theory has been gaining increasing “respectability.” Bohm’s approach is capable of being developed in different directions. For instance, a number of physicists, including Jean-Paul Vigier and several other physicists at the Institut Henri Poincaré in France, explain the quantum potential in terms of fluctuations in an underlying ether.
In the 1960s Bohm began to take a closer look at the notion of order. One day he saw a device on a television program that immediately fired his imagination. It consisted of two concentric glass cylinders, the space between them being filled with glycerin, a highly viscous fluid. If a droplet of ink is placed in the fluid and the outer cylinder is turned, the droplet is drawn out into a thread that eventually becomes so thin that it disappears from view; the ink particles are enfolded into the glycerin. But if the cylinder is then turned in the opposite direction, the thread-form reappears and rebecomes a droplet; the droplet is unfolded again. Bohm realized that when the ink was diffused through the glycerin it was not a state of “disorder” but possessed a hidden, or nonmanifest, order.
In Bohm’s view, all the separate objects, entities, structures, and events in the visible or explicate world around us are relatively autonomous, stable, and temporary “subtotalities” derived from a deeper, implicate order of unbroken wholeness. Bohm gives the analogy of a flowing stream:
On this stream, one may see an ever-changing pattern of vortices, ripples, waves, splashes, etc., which evidently have no independent existence as such. Rather, they are abstracted from the flowing movement, arising and vanishing in the total process of the flow. Such transitory subsistence as may be possessed by these abstracted forms implies only a relative independence or autonomy of behaviour, rather than absolutely independent existence as ultimate substances.
(David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, Boston, 1980, p. 48.)
We must learn to view everything as part of “Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement.” (Ibid., p. 11.)
Another metaphor Bohm uses to illustrate the implicate order is that of the hologram. To make a hologram a laser light is split into two beams, one of which is reflected off an object onto a photographic plate where it interferes with the second beam. The complex swirls of the interference pattern recorded on the photographic plate appear meaningless and disordered to the naked eye. But like the ink drop dispersed in the glycerin, the pattern possesses a hidden or enfolded order, for when illuminated with laser light it produces a three-dimensional image of the original object, which can be viewed from any angle. A remarkable feature of a hologram is that if a holographic film is cut into pieces, each piece produces an image of the whole object, though the smaller the piece the hazier the image. Clearly the form and structure of the entire object are encoded within each region of the photographic record.
Bohm suggests that the whole universe can be thought of as a kind of giant, flowing hologram, or holomovement, in which a total order is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. The explicate order is a projection from higher dimensional levels of reality, and the apparent stability and solidity of the objects and entities composing it are generated and sustained by a ceaseless process of enfoldment and unfoldment, for subatomic particles are constantly dissolving into the implicate order and then recrystallizing.
The quantum potential postulated in the causal interpretation corresponds to the implicate order. But Bohm suggests that the quantum potential is itself organized and guided by a superquantum potential, representing a second implicate order, or superimplicate order. Indeed he proposes that there may be an infinite series, and perhaps hierarchies, of implicate (or “generative”) orders, some of which form relatively closed loops and some of which do not. Higher implicate orders organize the lower ones, which in turn influence the higher.
Bohm believes that life and consciousness are enfolded deep in the generative order and are therefore present in varying degrees of unfoldment in all matter, including supposedly “inanimate” matter such as electrons or plasmas. He suggests that there is a “protointelligence” in matter, so that new evolutionary developments do not emerge in a random fashion but creatively as relatively integrated wholes from implicate levels of reality. The mystical connotations of Bohm’s ideas are underlined by his remark that the implicate domain “could equally well be called Idealism, Spirit, Consciousness. The separation of the two — matter and spirit — is an abstraction. The ground is always one.” (Quoted in Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, HarperCollins, New York, 1991, p. 271.)
As with all truly great thinkers, David Bohm’s philosophical ideas found expression in his character and way of life. His students and colleagues describe him as totally unselfish and non-competitive, always ready to share his latest thoughts with others, always open to fresh ideas, and single-mindedly devoted to a calm but passionate search into the nature of reality. In the words of one of his former students, “He can only be characterized as a secular saint.” (B. Hiley & F. David Peat eds., Quantum Implications: Essays in Honour of David Bohm, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1987, p. 48.)
Bohm believed that the general tendency for individuals, nations, races, social groups, etc., to see one another as fundamentally different and separate was a major source of conflict in the world. It was his hope that one day people would come to recognize the essential interrelatedness of all things and would join together to build a more holistic and harmonious world. What better tribute to David Bohm’s life and work than to take this message to heart and make the ideal of universal brotherhood the keynote of our lives.
Yesterday, I wrote about Eckhart and included the extract on Manifestation. Rather than cloud what was presented yesterday with more material, I held it over until today.
All I wanted to do was to draw your attention to Eckhart’s website, which is here – do spend some time going through what’s on offer – and I wanted to include this video of Eckhart speaking about Being Yourself.
But before you click the play button for the video, just listen to the words without having any reactions to how the words are presented, the accent of the speaker or anything else. You’ll understand when the video starts running. Just close your eyes and listen deeply to what is being said.
One of the many lessons that we can learn from dogs is the ability to be still. On the 2nd November, I wrote a
piece on Learning from Dogs about the critically important role of silence in our lives.
Eckhart Tolle is a very interesting person. He had a challenging background but has used his life experiences to gain a much deeper awareness of the world. Indeed, he measures around 600 on the Hawkin’s scale of consciousness.
Anyway, I reproduce in full an item from Tolle’s November Newsletter. It is called Eckhart on Manifestation.
Often people ask questions about manifesting and the power of intention, and how that relates to the power of Now. One person asked me about the difference between the continuous wanting that I write about in A New Earth and intention – the intention to create something. What is the importance of manifesting things in your life, or creating, or is that counter-productive?
There are many exciting books these days about creating and manifesting: The Secret, the teachings of Abraham, and so on. Often people ask, how does that relate to Stillness and inner peace? And acceptance of what is? And surrender to the Present Moment? And living in alignment with Now? Is there conflict, is one wrong? Or misleading?
This is an important question for almost everybody. Your own life is a microcosm of the macrocosm. If you look at the Universe, the first thing you will see is that it likes to create, and it likes to manifest. On this planet alone, the Universe is continuously creating and manifesting countless life forms. And in outer space, we can only assume – we don’t know what exactly is there – but there is a vastness of life out there, and probably many more life forms than we have on this planet. The life forms, both in the sea, and on land, including humans, they seem to enjoy a dance of coming into being and destruction. It’s a transformational process.By just looking at life, you can see that the Universe loves to manifest. Also it seems to be the case that life forms, over periods of time, become more differentiated. Many more come. And even human societies become more complex. We have had ancient civilizations that were very complex, but our present civilization is the most complex. This of course includes problem-ridden. That goes with complexity. Every individual who is part of this civilization has a life that is full of problems. But complexity cannot go on forever.
The Universe likes to create, to manifest, to experience the play of form. That’s one movement. And you can see it in yourself, at some level. There is something else in humans, you can only really see in yourself, an inner phenomenon. The Universe wants not only to experience that manifested life, it also wants to experience peace and something that is not touched by the continuously fluctuating forms. It wants to know itself deeply, directly, in its essence. That really is the root of spirituality. The Universe not only wants the outward movement, but it also wants the inward – the return movement to the One. Every human being also embodies these two movements. It seems that you are torn sometimes between the outward movement into form, and the inward return movement to the Source where it all started. The Source that was never really lost, it is always there because it is timeless, and it is within you. You feel drawn back to that, and that is the pull toward spirituality, peace, Stillness.
Not one or the other is right or wrong. It’s only perhaps if you totally lose yourself in one or the other – maybe that’s not quite it. Perhaps this is the challenge of the Universe here on this planet, and perhaps on other planets. The challenge to reconcile the two movements, rather than to have them be separate. Is it possible to reconcile the inner movement toward Stillness and Being, and the outer toward action, and doing? I would say it is, and that is our challenge at this time.
Traditionally, it’s been very unconscious what humans have manifested in this world. They have been identified with doing, and identified with form. That has been going on for as long as anyone can remember – since recorded history and beyond. And we call that ‘ego’. The One consciousness that underlies everything moves into form, assumes forms, and enjoys the play of form but it’s not enough for the one consciousness to enjoy the play of form, it needs to completely believe in it to make it seem ‘real’. You need to lose yourself in that dream of form.
Every human believes that they have a life of their own, and that means they are identified with the form of that life. This particular physical body, this particular psychological life form, the accumulation of thoughts and the emotions that go with these thoughts; it all becomes part of that form-identity.
Consciousness is trapped, or believes itself to be trapped in that. We could say that in that state, the Universe or Consciousness has entered a “dream-like” state. It wants to do that, it must enjoy that dream, up to a point. Consciousness has entered that “dream-like” state where it is completely identified with form. It doesn’t realize that every other form is an aspect of itself. Of course, then you are just an isolated entity. It becomes quite unpleasant after a while. So you have to get together with other entities and instead of having an “I” form, you have a “We” form, an “Us”.
For a while, the Universe seems to be okay with that, to have Consciousness identified completely with form. Then the “movie” goes on. Reading through history, you can see what happens when Consciousness is identified completely with form. Then it comes time for another stage to arise, when Consciousness is beginning to awaken from complete identification with form. This is beginning to happen at many stages, this is why human beings are drawn to spiritual teachings. It is the awakening from the dream of form.
Whichever way we look, there appear to be huge problems. Not insurmountable but, metaphorically speaking, sheer vertical cliffs without any easy way up.
One might ponder if the last 50 years, that post-war period of growth and prosperity, have, in reality given society real, sustainable, core improvements or whether all the ‘gains’ have come at such a cost that the net benefit is questionable?
This could be seen as pessimism gone mad. Undoubtedly, there have been some huge gains from a scientific point of view and we now enjoy lives that are greatly enhanced and longer. But not to ask such a fundamental question is to assume the alternative, that everything in the garden is rosy.
Now this may seem a strange introduction to a topic that is going to be deeply personal and private.
But both the private, individual world of the ‘self’ and the great, interconnected world of the planet are indivisible. Every aspect of our lives, our livelihoods, our environment and the future of our children depends on how well, and how sustainably, we manage our personal, local, national and international interests.
For example, if Prof. Lovelock’s theory on the planet being a self-regulating organism is correct, his Gaia theory, then possibly in the lifetimes of our children, and certainly in the lifetimes of our grandchildren, worrying about a job or repaying the mortgage will be irrelevant. Our descendants will be worrying about their very survival!
I called this piece To Move on, First Give Up. Why?
Because the only way forward is to give up on the present.
The future depends on each of us being happy and contented with ourselves and avoiding looking out there for the magic cure to all our troubles. Being, as far as we are able, at peace with our circumstances and able to do the best, individually, as well as the best for our families, our friends and the larger world in which we work and play.
I have heard people ask the question before, “How can I best help the world?” The only truthful answer is to develop ourselves as individuals. In doing this, the field of consciousness that we are all connected to is also lifted or elevated to a higher level.
At this stage of history, either…the general population will take control of its own destiny and will
concern itself with community interests guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others or alternately there will be no destiny for anyone to control.
By Jon Lavin
[Anyone who has been affected by this article and wishes to contact Jon may find his contact details here. Ed.]