(with an emphasis on the fixed dilemma, especially money and drugs)
It’s convention time again, with the Republican convention starting as I write this issue of The Mutable Dilemma before taking off to lecture in Russia, do a one-night-stand in Switzerland, and a conference in Ohio. I’ll be pretty unreachable till the latter part of November.
The Republicans are claiming that their reduced taxes really boosted the economy in the 1980s and we just need more of the same medicine. What they aren’t publicizing is the report by a government agency that by 1989, the top 1% of the U.S. population had more wealth than the bottom 90%. Clinton cited these figures in a speech in St. Louis on July 22, 1992. In a radio broadcast in early August, John Kenneth Galbraith, the renowned liberal economist, repeated the figures in an interview with a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Another radio broadcast on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) provided an analysis by Robert B Reiche, a Harvard economist, listing the tax changes during the 1980s for people at different income levels. Individuals with lower incomes are now paying increased taxes (mostly social security) while the top 1% of the U.S. population who have incomes of $670,000 or more received a tax reduction of 12%. So what did they do with that extra income that was not paid in taxes? Some of it bid up the stock market; some permitted the leveraged buyouts which loaded once solvent companies with unpayable debt; some bought government bonds on which the owners then collected interest. Reiche estimated that 12 cents of every dollar the U.S. government pays in interest goes to the same top 1%. When their interest is added to their tax savings, it just about equals the U.S. budget deficit. This is how the government insures that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.
Is homelessness due to the recession? The July-August 1992 issue of The Futurist says that the homeless population in the United States doubled between 1984 and 1987, a time of economic recovery, job growth, and reduced unemployment.
But even though the U.S. ranks well behind most developed countries in spending for education and social welfare, we are ahead in the number of infant deaths and especially in the number of citizens in prison. The June 1992 issue of New Age says that for every 100,000 Americans, 455 are in prison, a total of 1.1 million according to a Washington, DC research group. The number two nation in the world, South Africa, has 311 of every 100,000 residents in jail. And our lead is widening. The number behind bars in the U.S. has doubled since 1980 and tripled since 1973. Between 1989 and 1990 alone, it jumped 7%. I doubt that George Bush will include these figures in his acceptance speech.
Could TV contribute to some of the increasing violence in our society? The July 1992 issue of Technology Review, published by MIT, says the violence shown on TV has not really changed that much in the last 20 years. According to the American Psychological Association, “by the time the average child graduates from elementary school, he or she has witnessed 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 other assorted acts of televised violence.” p. 72 Cheap cartoons are the worst offenders.
Toxic Psychiatry is a relatively new book by Maryland M.D. Peter Arbregan. (I’m not sure of the spelling of the author’s name since I heard about the book in a radio interview.) Arbregan points out that drugs, electroshock and surgery used to be used on the mentally disturbed poor, or they were just kept locked up, to keep them from annoying the rest of the society. People with money went to psychiatrists for interminable analyses or they were cared for by hired attendants. But too many new practitioners and short-term, effective techniques were developed during the 1960s and afterwards which were really helping people to handle their psychological stresses and the psychiatric business was dwindling. So the psychiatrists joined forces with the big drug companies to push the idea that everything has a physical (usually genetic) cause and that there is a drug to cure every problem. Even the wealthy are now being given drugs which have lasting, negative side effects. Arbregan claims that the common drugs given for anxiety and depression, the “neuroleptics,” have the same effect as lobotomies—they do permanent damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. These drugs are commonly approved after only 5 to 7 weeks of studies using controls and the studies are done by the drug companies with their own paid physicians. (Yet the FDA is trying to stop people from being able to buy vitamins and food supplements without a doctor’s prescription and they raided the office of a holistic M.D. in Oregon who actually did prescribe vitamin shots for his patients!) Arbregan points out that there is currently a sustained campaign going on in the media, paid for by drug money, to convince people that all our problems are located in the physical brain, not in socioeconomic conditions. Gene markers that theoretically indicate a tendency to violence will be used to justify drugging young black men in the cities in order to control them. And everyone is encouraged to look to a drug to solve all problems. Is it any wonder that the underclass also turn to their own (illegal) drugs as a way out of their misery?
P.S. A July 1992 estimate says that drugs in the U.S. in 1991 cost $76 billion. I didn’t get down in my note whether that was legal or illegal drugs or both.
And before we leave the subject of drugs, some controversial studies of people who use illegal drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, found more use among middle and upper class individuals than among the poor. After all, they have the money to buy them! The psychological profiles of the drug users showed that high sensation seekers were 3 to 7 times more likely to use drugs. Such people live more intensely, are more politically involved, more inquisitive, more ambitious, more aggressive, take more risks and seek novelty. The studies found, to their surprise, that the young adults who used illegal drugs actually made more money than their counterparts in similar fields of work, and they did not get fired more often, but they did get less promotions. I would expect an emphasis on fire and water in their horoscopes, probably with a strong letter ten. Maybe we’ll put together a study one of these days.
The July 1992 issue of Brain-Mind and Common Sense reports a study at the University of Texas in which students who reported moderate use of legal or illegal drugs (tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, tranquilizers and amphetamines) claimed greater overall life satisfaction than either total abstainers or heavy users of drugs. Could this be defensive? They have to say they are happy to justify the drugs? I don’t know anyone happier than I am, and I am a total abstainer. But maybe some people haven’t learned that happiness is an inside job.
We still haven’t finished with the subject of drugs, since they are part of a fascinating article in the really great July-August issue of the Yoga Journal. It has several excellent articles, including an interview with physicist Dr. Fred Allan Wolf who moved from teaching physics in several universities, to writing about physics to help laymen understand the subject, to realizing that the model of physics was only one of many ways to perceive and describe the world. Wolf went to Peru to investigate the way that local shamans experienced the world with the use of a “vision-vine” called ayahuasca. He moved from writing about the possibility of “parallel universes” to experiencing them. Let me give a few of my favorite quotations.
“‘Until an observer sees an atom, the atom occupies an infinite number of possible positions simultaneously’ explains Wolf. ‘Upon observation, all of these possibilities collapse into a single reality. Fundamentally, the observer creates reality by observing it, asserted Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein in their “Copenhagen interpretation,” which has become a mainstay of physics ever since. But how that happens they didn’t explain. ‘It is precisely how we observe that creates the reality we perceive. Change the how of it and you change the what of it,’ says Wolf. ‘Shamans use the observer effect; they alter reality by altering the way in which it is observed.’” p. 51
“‘In the new quantum universe, you get what you expect. We will see it when we believe it,’ says Wolf, turning the old dictum on its head. ‘The equation is simple. Belief schools perception and perception precipitates reality.’” p. 52
Mostly we live in a set of habit patterns, (both beliefs and actions), which are largely unconscious. “Quantum physics calls this habit of going unconscious a ‘least-action pathway.’ The ‘least-action pathway’ is the way of getting somewhere, surviving, processing information, imparting order and sense to the cosmos, that takes the least effort, the least creative action. Least-action pathways are neural grooves in our perceptual apparatus that keep the world static and unchanging: too often we forget that they are single, isolated choices for action selected from a very extensive menu.”
“Between two events there are many routes, many connections. Least-action paths are the ones we take habitually in everyday life. When we restrict our awareness to a single path, the others appear to vanish, even though they are still present.” p 54 Wolf says that his ayahuasca initiation was designed to reprogram him, that the nature of true healing involves breaking out of our consensual trance. Wolf describes how the shamans see reality as a lattice of parallel worlds which are accessed through altered states of consciousness. To them, all events are universally connected.
Understanding that the individual’s beliefs create his/her reality, the shamans use a variety of techniques to alter an apprentice’s beliefs, including love, sexual energy, and the psychological experience of death. Wolf feels that the shaman’s goal is the reclamation of the soul, the rediscovery of what we have forgotten—that we are pure spirit. Wolf says that quantum physics is a myth which helps us to organize part of reality but it leaves out a lot of reality. His new job description is “soul physicist.”
So Wolf is saying that intent is the primary power in life and we can have many choices when we become conscious, when we are open to the experience of alternate realities, yet he denies any individual separateness. He says “the question of who-ness, or I-ness, is one of the basic mysteries in science. We don’t know where the observing I is. We think of ourselves primarily as our body, but we can’t locate this hommunculus called I inside our body. That’s because we’re looking in the wrong place for the seat of identity. The true location of the I, the agent of intent, is the entire world.” p. 54
Metaphysical teachers and writers as well as students can struggle with that issue to almost the same degree as scientists. “Am I as a unique individual creating my reality, and if so, can I change it when I don’t enjoy it, and if so, how can I do it?” “How does it happen that my reality meshes so closely with other people in my life?” “Am I doing it to them or are they doing it to me or is it a mutual creation?” “If I am the world, or the world is me, should I just wait for the world to provide what I want?” “Is there such a thing as personal responsibility?” “Why do some people end up in Serbian prison camps or starving in Somalia?” “Is all this experience the way we are growing?” Couldn’t a world have been designed where growth occurred without so much suffering?
As I wrote in the last issue of The Mutable Dilemma, I see the cosmos as a sea of infinite potentials where emotions (often unconscious) attract us where we fit. We are attracted to other life forms, situations, or events by shared emotion and shared meaning, not by physical forces or location in space-time. We can call this attraction “resonance” as long as we are clear that the connections are functioning on the emotional-mental level of life, not in the realm of physical forces. Carl Jung called it synchronicity, this shared meaning which lacked apparent physical causes. Astronomers name newly discovered asteroids, and they carry the meaning of that name even when you put them in the charts of people who were born before the asteroids were discovered and named. If we are really connected, Adam Smith was wrong. Self-interest is not the basis for morality—love is. When we add even a small amount of love and trust and knowledge and shared pleasure to the world, we are all the beneficiaries. And since we attract what fits us, we attract more love and faith and knowledge and shared pleasure as we resonate with those emotions. It isn’t easy to change habitual least-action pathways, but conscious intent is our tool. We can see love when we look for it instead of anticipating, noticing and mourning its absence. And especially, we can experience love when we give it, when we genuinely appreciate someone as he or she is without trying to change them.
Before we leave the area of possible alternate realities, the July-August 1992 issue of Share International had an interesting article on the crop circles. I discussed this strange phenomenon in the last issue of The Mutable Dilemma. Historical descriptions of similar happenings have now been traced, but the explosion of new circles in many countries has only been occurring for about three to four years. Each year more appear in more countries and they become more elaborate. The grain (usually wheat though circles have appeared in rye, barley, and wild grass) is bent down in a variety of shapes. It is usually not broken but the stems may be woven together. The circles appear overnight, in total silence and darkness, but sometimes UFOs are seen in proximity. Some hoaxes by human pranksters have occurred, but mostly the shapes are quite inexplicable.
The article in Share describes the filming of UFOs near new circles, including some UFOs which apparently responded to flashlight beams and then simply disappeared. There is also a description of a microscopic examination of some of the bent stalks of grain by Dr. Levengood. According to Linda Moulton Howe, Dr. Levengood found in the bent grain that the cell pits had been expanded. The cell pits are the tiny holes in the cells of plants where fluid moves back and forth and keeps the plant growing and healthy. The only way that Dr. Levengood could duplicate this cell pit separation was to put plants inside of a microwave oven for up to 30 seconds. He does not say that microwave radiation produced the effects seen in the crop circles but rapid heating was the only way he could duplicate the cell pit separation in the plants.
The Share article is excerpted from an interview with Colin Andrews, an English electrical engineer who has founded “Circles Phenomenon Research” to investigate the strange shapes. England is a center of the activity but it is occurring increasingly in many other countries. Andrews feels that humans are being given a message to awaken them to changes of consciousness which are underway in the world.
As this issue of The Mutable Dilemma was about to go to the printer, the August 29-September 4, 1992 issue of The Economist delivered an article on a possible explanation for the mysterious “Loch Ness monster.” Dr. Bousfield, a Harvard-trained biologist in British Columbia, Canada, has discovered 30 years of press-clippings and sighting-accounts of a marine animal which sounds very like “Nessie.” The material is in the Royal British Columbia museum, gathered by its former director, Clifford Carl, who died in the late 1960s. The “creature,” named Cadborosaurus, is described as long and serpentine with a small, horse-like head and a humped back. There is even a photograph of a ten-foot animal found in the stomach of a sperm whale. The reported sightings date from 1897 and have mostly occurred off the coast of British Columbia ranging down to Oregon. The biologists still want a specimen before they can accept the reality of Cadborosaurus, but the sightings are reportedly still occurring about once a year so some enterprising person is bound to come up with a body. And if Nessie and similar “monsters” described in other deep bodies of water are really Cadborosauruses, one more mystery will have been solved.
Finally, a recent astronomy book by Barry Evans called The Wrong-Way Comet was more for beginning students than I had anticipated, but it did include some interesting material on Halley. Evans writes that Halley is one of only five of the 120 known short-period comets which orbit the Sun clockwise, in the reverse direction from the rest which are counterclockwise. Astronomers also think that at least part of Halley’s material is “unprocessed,” virgin material from the supernova which is the theoretical source of our solar system. Planetary scientists are eager to get some of this original material with its unmodified isotopic ratios for keys to the source of everything in our physical solar system. As I have written before, Halley seems to be a source of special information. Materialistic scientists want to analyze its physical nature. Astrologers are analyzing its meaning in human power games.