Judging the Fabric of Society: the Buddhist Amygdala

“The amygdala pervades the organisation of thought and behaviour at all levels.”

Ralph Adolphs, expert on emotion, memory and social cognition, California Institute of Technology

“By attuning the brain to all manner of threats and pleasures.. the amygdala helps to confer emotional significance on a wide range of experiences. The amygdala helps to give life meaning.”

(David Dobbs, Scientific American)

While trekking in Nepal in the 1970’s, Colorado businessman Adam Engle was so impressed by the warmth and compassion of the Buddhist lamas that, with the late Franciso J Varela, a neuroscientist and Buddhist practitioner, he later co-founded the Mind & Life Institute in Colorado, “to see if we can bridge the gap” between science and spirituality. (Scientific American Mind, Feb/Mar 2006, p40)

Dalai Lama - image from http://www.mindandlife.org

They have a blog with some very interesting posts, including this one about an 8 week meditation program which shows measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.

In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of the first study to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.

An expert in facial expressions and emotion, Paul Ekman, found that Buddhist lamas were able to correctly interpret facial expressions “much faster and more accurately” than thousands of other people he tested over the years, including lawyers, policemen and judges.  It thus became apparent that meditation strengthened the parts of the brain dealing with the recognition of emotion, and this has a huge implication for the fabric of our society.

How important is the innate ability to discern truth?  Last week a woman who had been a suspect in the murder of her six year old son has been cleared by new evidence – after twenty five years.   On closer inspection we see the evidence was there all along, but was  completely ignored by the legal experts:

Nicholas Loris, 6, was found strangled to death 150 yards from his Davidson County, N.C., home on Feb. 21, 1987.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department credited new technology with helping them to clear Elizabeth Watkins’ name and determine that her son’s cause of death was a dog attack.

“Not only has she been exonerated but the weight from the last 25 years has been lifted from her shoulders,” Watkins’ attorney, David Freedman, told ABCNews.com. “It means everything to her.”

Spending the past 25 years as a suspect cost Watkins a relationship with her older son, who went to live with his father after she became a suspect, as well as the burden of search warrants, DNA tests and always wondering what really happened to Nicholas.

In partnership with the FBI, investigators were able to use new technology to blow up photographs and determine that the claw and scratch marks on the boy’s body came from a number of medium-sized dogs. Nicholas died from strangulation after the dogs pulled his clothing tightly around his neck.

“Once investigators were able to see the wounds up close, they were able to see they were consistent with a dog attack,” Freedman said.

Bill Schatzman, Forsyth County Sheriff, announced at a press conference Thursday that Watkins had been exonerated and the case was officially closed. (ABC World news)

It’s a shame these emotional cripples were unable to recognise a bereaved mother’s emotions.  I can barely imagine the trauma of a mother losing the son she gave birth to, then being accused of his death, and as a result abandoned by her only other son, and then having to live under this shadow of grief and blame for a quarter of a century.  Leaving aside the imbeciles who failed to spot signs of what must have been a ferocious dog attack on a young boy, I cannot accept that any judge should be incapable of distinguishing grief from guilt.

A Texas man declared innocent Tuesday after 30 years in prison had at least two chances to make parole and be set free - if only he would admit he was a sex offender. But Cornelius Dupree Jr refused to do so, doggedly maintaining his innocence in a 1979 rape and robbery, in the process serving more time for a crime he didn't commit than any other Texas inmate exonerated by DNA evidence.

Carrillo, 37, served 20 years but was released from custody on Wednesday afternoon after a judge overturned his 1992 conviction for the drive-by shooting that left one man dead. Witnesses later recanted their testimony, and a dramatic reconstruction of the shooting raised doubts about whether it would have even been possible to identify Carrillo as the shooter.

James Harden, 36, was freed after serving nearly 20 years in the Menard Correctional Center for the 1991 rape and murder of 14-year old Cateresa Matthews, in Dixmoor, Illinois. One of five men, Harden was only 15 years old and suffering with severe learning disabilities and unable to read when he signed a confession that led to his lifetime behind bars.

After eight years on death row, Ryan Matthews was found innocent and freed in 2004.

There are so many cases to choose to show how little interest the legal system has in its clients that it’s hard to know where to start.  The problem seems to be a preconceived notion which infleucnes all subsequent interpretations, no matter the evidence which may refute the original, prejudiced conclusion.

Studies have shown that meditation has both short-term and long-term effects on various perceptual faculties: consider the Poggendorff illusion, in which the black line broken by the vertical shape seems to be continued by the blue line.   The error is caused by the brain translating the shift from left to right without taking into account the amount of vertical movement:

In 2000, Tloczynski et al. studied the perception of visual illusions by zen masters, novice meditators, and non-meditators. There were statistically significant effects found for the Poggendorff illusion (above). The zen masters experienced a statistically significant reduction in initial illusion (measured as error in millimeters) and a lower decrement in illusion for subsequent trials.

“A person who meditates consequently perceives objects more as directly experienced stimuli and less as concepts… With the removal or minimization of cognitive stimuli and generally increasing awareness, meditation can therefore influence both the quality (accuracy) and quantity (detection) of perception.”

In other words, the amygdala, properly trained in meditation, tends to recognise truth rather than reacting along preconceived lines even in emotionally neutral optical illusions, where sheer mechanical judgement is required.  So the skill has nothing to do with enhanced trust or naiivete.  It even increases one’s mechanical accuracy. Nowhere is perception of truth more in demand than in law enforcement and the judiciary.

It has long been known that the large number of coloured people convicted of crimes in America, especially in the South, is largely because of racial prejudice amongst those in the court system.  But even so,  it is hard to believe the sheer neglect of duty and disinterest than in the case of Ryan Matthews:

Ryan’s trial lawyers  had only met Ryan twice during their preparation. They never discussed the facts of his case with him, what he knew about the shooting, or asked him what he was doing that night. They didn’t know that he had a half-brother in a wheelchair who had been shot in the back.

They had never been to the scene of the crime or spoken to the eyewitnesses who couldn’t identify anyone at the time of the shooting but managed to identify Ryan years later, never stressed to the jury the significance of the fact that the DNA in the ski mask worn by the killer was not Ryan’s, never talked to the guy who’d been boasting in prison about killing a white guy in his store, never found out that the boastful guy was in prison for manslaughter, never found out that his DNA matched that inside the ski mask.

In short, they never believed they were representing an innocent boy, though his innocence would later be proven.

(Shauneen Lamb, Guardian)

This shocking disability is bad enough in an ordinary person but inexcusable in brains responsible for discerning truth, yet the legal system seems to thoroughly perpetuate it.  How many cases of innocence are revealed after decades, because of new forensic or DNA tests?   Our professionals concern themselves with legal formalities and lose track of their own senses, just as it has been found that using SatNavs disable the brain’s own spatial mapping abilities.  Could it be that using a crutch weakens one’s legs?  Can such things be?

We have shrugged off the responsibility to discern truth for ourselves and fobbed the job off to experts, and they, in turn, to their machinery.  It’s much easier to absolve ourselves of blame and point to a tedious legal precedent.   Behind this freakish display of stupidity can only be an under-functioning brain, perhaps overloaded by bookish learning but also, damaged by attraction to the financial rewards of the legal system itself.  It seems one can be seriously interested in truth, or in money, but not both.

What kind of mind gravitates to these positions of power to decide on the fate of mortal men?  Cherie Blair is a case in point – an extremely wealthy professional who seems to have given up ethics for the sake of money – a process also known as prostitution:

“The press pounced on an embarrassing episode when she was fined for fare dodging after jumping on a train to Luton, where she was due to sit as a magistrate.” (BBC)

“Most people have difficulty seeing themselves as others see them, but there is something almost psychopathic about Cherie Blair in this respect: she has reached absolute zero when it comes to self-irony or self-knowledge. She tells us that she’s “a good Catholic girl” while detailing her premarital as well as postmarital sex life. She retails offensive tittle-tattle about the queen and other members of the royal family, calling Princess Margaret “a stuck-up old slapper.”

“She goes on at length about her deprived childhood in Liverpool while insisting, “I have no problem with saying I am a socialist.” She then whimpers about the terrible difficulty of repaying a $6 million mortgage on the London house they acquired when Blair was still prime minister—and on top of which they’ve just bought a beautiful country house, formerly Sir John Gielgud’s, for nearly $8 million. (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Slate)

“Cherie Blair presented the cash-strapped Labour Party with a £7,700 bill for the services of her personal hair stylist during last year’s general election campaign. As Labour struggled with outgoings so large that it had to resort to secret loans from millionaires to stay afloat, Mrs Blair made the party pay £275 a day for a month to keep her hair in shape” (Times)

“On an official trip to Australia, she went shopping at a designer clothes showroom. In what might have been a scene from Supermarket Sweep, she left with 68 items worth £2,000 after being told to take “a few things” as gifts.” (Telegraph)

There is plenty of evidence that materialism damages mirror neurons, the basis of empathy, and it seems also to affect the performance of amygdala.  In fact the whole sensitiv eorgan of the brain seems to come under attack from wealth and privilege, which is why all religions have emphasised an indifference to wealth, and to loss of wealth, focusing instead on the development of the personality, that is, the brain.

The latest statistic show the number of giraffes in the world have nearly halved since 1988 from over 140,000 to less than 80,000. Hunters pay up to a whopping £10,000 for the the chance to slay them - preferring bulls because they are the biggest. The hunts typically last three-to-five days and see tourists using .458 Winchester Magnum rifles to kill the animals. With most hunters flying to Africa from their homes in Europe or America, the costs stretch into five figures (Daily Mail)

From Ekman’s professional evidence we see that meditation’s effect is to make the brain much more sensitive to truth.  In the case of materialism, we can infer that the separation of the personality from the needs and emotions of others results in an inability to detect the truth, and even a complete disinterest in it.   Therefore truth is inextricably linked to sensitivity, which is why sensitivity is so necessary among those who practice any kind of art, as the instrument they are sharpening and enhancing is their own brain.  Fleeting impressions pass equally across all minds, but detecting their significance relies on the sensitivity of the brain.  The qualities of meaning and of truth are not arbitrary as militant atheists would have us believe, and nor are they items of convenience for survival, but as absolute as light and dark are to the eye; the difference perhaps being that we can sharpen the brain to those contrasts, or dim it altogether.

Spiritual practices therefore are not an escape from the world, but a deeper investigation into its reality.  A greater ability to synthesise an otherwise confusing mass of details to form conclusions shows the brain’s potential to be not a greater storage of facts, as commercial education would have us believe, but the greater detection of truth and meaning which those facts represent.

Last weekend my daughter and I went to a small exhibition in Cambridge in which I think the most beautiful painting was a Vermeer called the Lacemaker.  It is known that Vermeer’s model in most of his pictures was his devoted wife Catherine (together they produced eleven children); their love seems as much a part of the portraits as the paint itself, judging by his sensitivity and the patience with which she modelled for him.  Vermeer came from a protestant background, and Catherine from a Catholic one, which seems to have been overcome by the fondness for him of her mother, and perhaps even his conversion to Catholicism.

Amygdala at work?

In contrast to the pretence and deception which people will go to any lengths to avoid, meaning, and its corollary, truth, is what they will go to any lengths to pay homage to – which explains the popular exhibition and the two hour lineup to get in.   In this tiny portrait, Catherine is completely absorbed by her craft, and become one with it; the tiny threads, one vibrating slightly under tension could as well be nerves, so fine are they and so central to the whole activity.  This extraordinarily sensitive picture could only have been rendered by an artist who understood this absorption only too well and with it, pay tribute both to their bond of affection, and to the creative act itself.

It is said that children bring to our mind the nature of their parents; the Vermeer’s children and their works may have long been lost to history but the colourful alchemy between mother and father has survived, carefully preserved for 350 years to pay tribute to the power of the sensitive brain.

The painting’s background is unusual for Vermeer, lacking finely-observed detail of walls, tiles and beaded glass windows.  Instead, perhaps in a burst of inspiration, he abandons realism altogether to leave the weave of canvas practically bare, the fabric sustaining Vermeer’s art in the same way cloth and thread underlie the lacemaker’s.

There are other paintings of the Dutch period which excel Vermeer’s in realism and grandeur, but the many layers of subtle contexts in this tiny work seem to show that people are not attracted by realism and pomp as much as they are by meaning, reflected from a brain sympathetic to their own.  What survives the centuries seems to be that which means most to the human heart: that which has meaning.

About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created www.scienceandreligion.com about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
This entry was posted in Amygdala, Biology, Brain damage, Brain Hygiene, Buddha, Buddhism, Dalai Lama, Detachment from materialism, Genius, Intelligence, Intuition, Jan Vermeer, Materialism, Meditation, Meditation, Natural Intelligence, Science and Religion, Spiritual Genius, The Brain and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Judging the Fabric of Society: the Buddhist Amygdala

  1. susan grace says:

    A colleague and I, being both interested in Kundalini research, took steps to garner support and interest in a research project to demonstrate Kundalini and thus were able to meet with a friend of Adam Engle and Paul Ekman. The man we met with was a well known philanthropist and friend of the Dalai Lama – he listened with interest (first making sure we were not evangelical Christians!) but with no understanding of what we were talking about, for he had never heard the word Kundalini, and yet, he saw the merit of our trying to advocate on behalf of reconciliation of religion and science, and thus put us in touch with Adam Engle.

    We reached out to Engle pointing out that Kundalini was the common denominator between all faiths, and the lever behind genius and mysticism. We proposed a collaboration as we too were interested in experiments being done showing the benefits of meditation, including the demonstration of neuroplasticity of the brain. However, Engle missed the point entirely, and because we had mentioned the life work of Gopi Krishna, expressed to us that he believed we were trying to promote the works of Gopi Krishna, when in fact, we were looking for kindred spirits to help the mission of demonstrating the continued evolution of the brain and the mechanism responsible for it.

    I have often wondered why Kundalini seems a verboten word in this close knit world of Tibetan Buddhists, (have we ever heard the Dalai Lama [or his circle] mention it even once in all his writings on science, the brain and spirituality) even though its obvious Tibetan Buddhism has their own “strain” of it called by another name. No matter the name, it seems logically the key to demonstrating and explaining mystical states, and genius, and certainly a hypothesis to consider in the next phase of research into meditation’s effect on the brain. What is the source of the changes in the brain? This is the question we posed to Engle, and even to Dr. Richard Davidson of University of Wisconsin, who either didn’t get it or just remained silent. But such is life and rejection is more often the reaction a bold new idea will attract!

    • It’s impressive you made so much headway, and found such good contacts! It might be understandable that he suspected you of pushing the work of one man, firstly because scientists are innately suspicious, and secondly if that’s the way he is looking at the problem too. Or perhaps it shows the research is in the very early stages, and he has no idea who GK was. But either way, scientific research is going to point in one direction; the Dalai Lama is a very influential person and has had to put up with massive intolerance. A petition was even signed by 500 neuroscientists that he not be allowed to speak at their conference, in 2003 or 4 I think it was. So he has taken a fair share of abuse. One guy even said, “what can the Dalai Lama teach me about neuroscience?” A lot, as it turned out.

      The one advantage of science, even in the face of this kind of preconception and prejudice and even hostility, the large number of minds at work on the same problem guarantee that the true mechanisms will eventually be uncovered. It has to be the case, whether they call it bioenergy or something else. I guess we can’t expect science to jump aboard a completely new ship before they’ve packed their suitcase, tested the hull, vetted the captain, and prepared a years supply of sandwiches, but that caution will be what guarantees a long-term indisputable outcome. You wouldn’t want some flake to leap to your defence and then the next day leap to another new cause and be always blown off course by a puff of wind.

      All the different groups who are trying to get to the bottom of this mystery will end up sharing what they’ve learned – perhaps it could really only come about once the world was wired up for instant, global communication in the way it is now. This guarantees that everyone will know about the successes, and also the names of those who stand in the way or try to scam some cash out of it by patenting the ideas or some other crap like that. It will end up being a planet-wide investigation, and people being very perceptive will not stand for profiteering and greed. The nature of the investigation, that altruism and generosity are central biological principles will attract those of that kind of mentality and, for once, cause people obsessed with greed to at least try to abandon selfish ideas for the good of everyone else. They will be exposed very quicly if they don’t.

      And I’m sure at some point it will become obvious that what you were suggesting was absolutely correct!

      • susan grace says:

        I know how hard you have personally worked for decades towards publicizing the Kundalini hypothesis, in addition to the self sacrifice and dedication shown by others – such as Gene Kieffer of the Kundalini Research Foundation and the Ponds of the Institute for Consciousness Research, to bring attention and awareness to this sensible hypothesis that the brain is evolving and that humankind is proceeding towards higher consciousness via a psycho-physiological mechanism called Kundalini.

        It’s not a new idea or a new word as there is ample evidence of it throughout history, but given the reponse that it gets from various corners, one would think we were talking a wholly different and foreign language, one from a planet, far far away! There are numerous research efforts devoted to solving the mystery of consciousness, but mention “Kundalini”, and stone walls go up. I have faith that it will proceed near to the design you outline above, Iain, and that it’s only a matter of time and patience, that all streams will return to the same source. I console myself that it is a task taken up with no immediate reward or benefit, and that the purpose at this stage is to merely publicize the word and idea; get it out there for consideration and conversation.

        But you would think that by now someone, somewhere, might get the implications?! Pandit Gopi Krishna was at an European consciousness conference a number of years ago where famed physicist and author Fritjof Capra was in attendance. Capra was told that Krishna wanted to share a cup of coffee with him, but the response from Capra: “I have nothing to say to him!” This is a true story, and it’s been repeated again and again in different ways by different people. Gopi Krishna? Hrumpf! A humble Indian servant

        … why should we, with our PhDs, and with our influence and reputation and entourages, even deign to pay attention to what a humble uneducated man wrote about consciousness and the brain. Even though no one living right now can possibly hope to replicate or come near the depth of what Gopi Krishna left in his many books on Kundalini and consciousness (unless that person is experiencing a full Kundalini awakening and has arrived at the shore of super consciousness). Okay, so I’m a fan of GK. Yet, my colleague and I went back to Engle and said no, we aren’t promoting Gopi Krishna…actually far from it…we are merely endeavoring to form partnerships that might strengthen the noble effort involved in efforts to unlock the mysteries of the brain and consciousness.

        Could it be as simple as: if Gopi Krishna is acknowledged as having a good point, that it would mean credit would be deflected away from someone’s personal guru? We all know human nature. Gopi Krishna knew this and predicted it – his hypothesis was so radical for its time, truly, that it would be hard to make inroads, even though he personally won the admiration of no less a scientific luminary than Carl Von Weizacher, former director of the Max Plank Institute.

        Another great scientist at the time said and I paraphrase: “I agree with your line of thinking, but I can’t possibly come out publicly in support.” Kundalini experiences are reported high and low, far and wide – so it’s not the domain of only one person, one organization to own. Yes, correct Iain – this will be a planet-wide effort or nothing at all, and it seems that the wind is moving in this direction — we all fall together or we all evolve together. Thanks for your great work, superb writing, and for your awesome response! I was tickled to see the name Engle and Ekman and it brought back memories of an effort at collaboration that failed…for the moment!

      • I suppose we have to remember that the world of science generates individuals with the same drives as the society which produced them – a love of fame, snobbishness, and a need for approval and material security, and so on. They become like everyday people who appear on reality TV – they start to exhibit erratic behaviour but never realise it, as they are surrounded by yes-men and acolytes. Once their fame is gone, these acolytes melt into thin air. Fame and success is very addictive. You find that people who are well known have usually carefully cultivated their persona, surrounded themselves with people who rely on their largesse and reflected glory, and they work hard to maintain whatever gimmick has pushed them to the front, and stamp out anything which can interrupt their flow of fame.

        The real exceptions are the genuine contributors to knowledge who are not interested in building a personality cult. People like Feynman, for instance, who moved in many fields, in some of which he was pleased to be a complete unknown – like his musical interest in percussion – because he could enjoy the same ups and downs as everyone else. He was quite open about his weaknesses because his work spoke for itself. I know there are many selfless people in science who are invisible, simply because they are not interested in fame. It’s a good field, but it has its eccentrics, and they realise they are very fragile people, which explains Capra’s remark.

        The ones who build a personality cult around themselves are out pushing their own brand, and anything which might contest it or prevent its sale, is shouted down. New Scientist once produced a cover, more for marketing reasons than anything else, which said “Darwin was wrong” or words to that effect. They just wanted to drum up some business on the newsstands. Dawkins had an absolute fit. He organised a boycott! Scientists boycotting their own magazine! You would think they were in the fashion business or something. The joke is that he can hardly destroy the idea of a personality cult using another personality cult.

        Understanding a scientific theory and embellishing it with imaginative flourishes is not the same as coming up with something new, but all the TV hoopla disguises this emptiness. As Einstein said, a problem cannot be solved on the same level it was created on. The only thing which will destroy religious cults is a scientific investigation, and as Dawkins himself says, in regards to those who want a compromise between science and religion, “I’m bad news for them,” because he completely rules out any kind of compromise. So in one stroke, he makes himself irrelevant. This is how life is! people accuse and convict themselves, and they could just as easily exonerate themselves. How will he be able to justify his whole career once spirituality emerges as an evolutionary force? He will be disgraced. His books will be forgotten. This could easily happen within the next decade. So he has to fight it tooth and nail, this is intuitive on his part.

        People like Feynman were different, because they were genuine thinkers, and interested in truth, and that spoke for itself. Feynman had more tragedy and upsets in his life than anyone, but his inquiring mind rose to the top on its own. He was the one, for example, who solved the mystery of the O-Rings on the space shuttle, and made the idea instantly comprehensible to the commission by using a glass of iced water (which he nearly wasn’t able to get during the hearing). The problem was that NASA was under pressure to launch, and chose a particularly cold morning: the O rings sealing the fuel sections changed their shape in the cold, and took too long to reform, meaning that gaps opened up and caused the leak and the explosion.

        As a child his curiosity led him to radios, and an uncle asked him to fix his. The young Feynman sat staring at the device, after listening to various signal problems, going through in his mind all the possibililties. His uncle complained he didn’t seem to be doing anything. Feynman didn’t look up: “I’m thinking.” So his uncle was impressed – “hey, this kid can fix radios by thinking!” Someone with such a mind naturally gravitates to the top.

        I had some friends who were interested in Sai Baba, around 1980 in Pinner, and of course they didn’t have access to all the Internet information which we do now. They couldn’t see he was a fraud – at the time, Sai Baba would have been young and charismatic and he’d completely taken them in. But that was the whole problem – he was interested in fame, in bright robes, in applause, miracles, all the showbiz stuff. He justified it by giving money to charity, but behind all this tawdry glitter there was a completely dissolute life. Now we see his cheap magic tricks went over well because they were performed in front of uncriticial and gullible audiences. Anyone who criticised, using their common sense, was condemned, and then all the charity was pointed to, and so on. Behind the scenes we find there was all the usual political manipulation, rooms full of gold, sexual abuse, even unexplained deaths, and the complicity of the local government, who were so desperate to believe in some god-become-man that they lost their common sense. When science investigates religion, all this nonsense will disappear, as you well know.

        These personality cults arise easily around charismatic people. But when you step back and take a longer view, you find the one thing remaining visible after decades is the actual work the person did, and the ideas they contributed. Even some of the silliest ideas had crowds of supporters, but once the idea is disproved or replaced with a better one, people are very quick to distance themselves from it, to disown it completely; once the mind has abandoned something, it virtually vanishes from existence. This one single observation proves that the mind is the ultimate judge, and it is very consistent: there is no need for boycotts and dramatic publicity stunts any more than there is a need for shouting in a dispute – it actually weakens your argument to show that you dare not rely on the human mind to judge your case on its own merits. This is why religion’s simple essentials have survived for so long, and why the essentials of science will survive too.

        These personality cults are much like the piles of wealth that millionaires build up which are immediately dissipated after they die, like air from a balloon; the wealth even becomes a living curse to their own children. These people made a choice – they chose to enjoy their life instead of making a permanent difference to society, and soon after their death, their names are forgotten.

      • susan grace says:

        Excellent, Iain! I am in total agreement with you. Your citation of the Sai Baba example is spot on. Just in the recent past, while I was studying for my yoga teaching certificate at a Yogananda Center, their spiritual director fell all over herself in admiration of Sai Baba, and I said outloud for all to hear – “Really?” His picture adorned their bookshelf alongside other saints and sages. Seeing Sai Baba’s portrait prominently displayed, even after all the controversies swirling around him, turned my stomach. Did no one else see this? Was I the only one?

        On another note, I’m a big fan of Feynman as well. I wish we had more minds like his around; instead vapid, unoriginal thinking seems to rule the day, but this too is bound to change as Nature ordains. For those that think that the great puffed up intellect is in charge of everything, and there is no Cosmic Intelligence to answer to, well that, in my humble opinion, is a mental flaw and contagion affecting modern man’s mind, and we can look no further than Richard Dawkins, proud thinker and admirer of his own importance and relevance…God love him!

        He represents a strain of thinking that can’t possibly attune to the idea that there is purpose and a target for evolution. Darwin was awesome, no question, and though he shunned Christianity for good reasons of his own, he did not leave out the idea of a Creator or plan for creation– he simply didn’t make it front and center, saying it was left to science to provide natural causal explanations. The materialists deliberately and consciously ignore this side of Darwin because it does not fit with their agenda.

        Even Darwin, as the great scientist and thinker that he was, might say his own theory could be subjected to revision. God forbid we utter such a blasphemy within earshot of biologists and zoologists of today. Expand on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? What! Are you a religious nut?! I would venture a guess that the great majority of our most original thinkers and creators sensed a higher intelligence/presence underlying and permeating the material/physical world.

        A few spring to mind easily — Galileo, Newton, Da Vinci, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Einstein, Hugo, Thoreau, Emerson,Tolstoy, Gandhi, Whitman, and all other creative geniuses mentioned in your past and present posts. The list can go on and on! In the meantime, we can (if we want) look to original and independent thinkers, such as Pandit Gopi Krishna, for fresh approaches to the idea of evolution. What appeals to me is Gopi Krishna’s relative obscurity; a pressing intuition arises that one day his name might be on the lips of many looking for the clue to the mystery of existence. J

        ust as Galileo was vindicated later for his valiant position born out of conviction and evidence, and retained in the face of rejection, humiliation, punishment and condemnation. Thank you for the chance for folks like me (interested in science, genius and spirituality) to express my simple yet sincere thoughts!

      • Express away! May your oxytocin flow and your retrotransposons continue to do whatever it is they do!

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