My partner was out of town and it was a Saturday. Whenever she's not with me on a weekend I find that I always end up at our local Botanical Gardens, hiking the trails and sitting still with nature.
The drive to this garden is about 20 minutes long - an opportunity I revel in by listening to podcasts or interviews with writers like Mary Oliver, listening to an old Billie Holiday CD with melodies that fit perfectly with the dance of the sunlight and the rush of the wind, OR, by opening the most recent audiobook I've borrowed from the local library and popping it in to see what I can learn about the world, our bodies, and the universe. This time, I listened to The New Physics of Healing by Deepak Chopra.
The talk, recorded in front of a live audience in 1990, begins with Chopra setting the intention: "I want to talk about the quantum mechanical body." starting with an understanding of the concepts of perception.
*A lot of what I share here will be direct quotes along with some of my own reflections.
Flies in a Jar - The Body-Mind Commitment
Deepak references a study of flies trapped in a jar. If the lid covers the jar for long enough, when you remove it, the flies won't be able to leave the jar. "They've made a commitment in their body-mind that that's the limit of their universe."
He goes on to explain that when people train elephants in India, they tie a rope to the elephant's leg for a few weeks, attaching them to a "flimsy twig". When the elephant grows up, you can attach an iron chain to their leg and they'll snap it in one movement, but tie their leg to that flimsy twig again and they won't be able to escape. "The elephant has made a commitment in its body-mind to the twig as a prison."
I think it’s important to note that these body-mind commitments are involuntary and at no fault of the person or animal who’s been living certain perceptions, but the awareness these examples create felt like great prompts for self-reflection, for sure! I can’t help but wonder what my not-so-obvious perceptions are and how heightened awareness could bring a broader understanding of the world, people, and healing.
The Sensory Experience - Nervous System Reinforcement
All the data collected on the mechanics of perception "points to one very crucial fact: our sensory apparatus and inter-neuronal connections develop as a result of our initial sensory experiences and how we are taught to interpret them." Deepak then explains that our nervous system only has one purpose for its existence: to reinforce what we were exposed to in the first place. The technical term used in the field of psychology for this pattern is Premature Cognitive Commitment, meaning "we commit ourselves to a certain cognitive reality" which in itself is a reality of conceptual boundaries that we have structured, unintentionally, in our own consciousness, which then becomes the established structure that our nervous system then consistently reinforces.
The disc goes on to discuss how our perception of the world is built entirely from the interpretation of our environment through the receptors in our brain that convey the touch, taste, smell, sound, visuals (etc.) of our environment - receptors that have been programmed to our specific makeup as humans. Bees, Deepak offers as an example, aren't attracted to flowers by the beautiful colors of the pedals - they can't see those colors like we can. Instead, they see the ultraviolet rays that illuminate the pollen, and that is what they move toward. That is what they know flowers to be, because the receptors in their brains have been programmed to hold that perception of the world. The look, texture, shape of the world is different to each animal depending on their receptors and perceptions of the world. So, what does the world actually look, feel, smell like? "The answer is: there isn't such a thing. Our universe and our world are infinite possibilities all co-existing at the same time. We freeze that field of infinite possibilities into a certain field of perceptual reality - literally - as a result of our cognition, which is a result of premature cognitive commitments."
The Superstition of Materialism
"Our entire system of logic is embedded in this superstition of materialism, which makes sensory perception the crucial test of reality. The superstition states that the world 'out there' is made of objects that are separate from each other in space and time."
In this section, Deepak explains that in present-day medicine, the perception of the body is of a "frozen sculpture" that we try to fix with "magic bullets" - immediate, yet ineffective solutions for everyday ailments and life-long diseases. "All our current research is really for other magic bullets because we confuse the mechanisms of disease with the origins of disease." The current medical model for the 'treatment of illness and disease' is through interfering with the mechanisms of disease, BUT, in fact, interfering with the mechanisms of disease just allows the disease to express itself through alternate pathways.
At the time when this event was recorded in 1990, an estimated 36% of patients on general medical services suffered from disease as a result of Western medical intervention. Between 1981-1987, it's estimated that between 1 and 4 million people may have died as a result of medical treatment. That's more than the death tolls created by HIV, traffic accidents, and the Vietnam War.
"Every 24 hours, 80% of adults in the United States and the United Kingdom swallow a medically prescribed chemical. Some $73 billion — almost 16 percent of total health care expenditures — was spent on prescription drugs for adults in 1998."
Deaths and Drug Addictions as a Direct Result of Western Medical Intervention
It's estimated that there are about 100,000 deaths per year in the United States as a direct result of hospital-acquired infections and the use of antibiotics. From 1962-1988, there has been a 300% increase in drug addiction as a direct result of medical prescriptions. To put this into perspective, the "street dugs of Columbia" contributed to less than 30% increase of drug addiction in the same period.
"Medical intervention merely redefines but does not reduce the overall morbidity or mortality in a given population - it just redefines it."
We Have the Wrong Model of the Human Body
The human body is not a human machine that has "somehow learned to think." In fact, Chopra says, it might be the other way around!
Ayurveda refers to the body as a river of intelligent energy. We have a moment-to-moment experience of non-change in a body that is, in fact, a field of energy that is changing very rapidly in dynamic enhancement with the rest of the universe through certain processes - eating, breathing, digestion, elimination, etc.
Our changing physical bodies
The physical bodies sitting in our chairs right now are not the same bodies we woke up with this morning.
With each inhale of breath, we're taking in 10 to the power of 22 atoms that ultimately become our heart cells, kidney cells, brain cells, and so on. With each breath we exhale, we're breathing out 10 to the power of 22 atoms that ultimately came from our heart, kidneys, liver, and so on. In fact, we're exchanging them with each other all the time! "We are part of a cosmic body that is constantly in exchange with its own self."
98% of all the atoms in our body are replaced in less than one year.
You make a new liver every 6 weeks.
You make new skin once a month.
You make a new stomach lining every 5 days.
Even the brain cells that we think with (physical atoms) weren't there last year. The raw material of our DNA - which holds the memory of millions of years of evolutionary time - is replaced every 6 weeks. If we're accounting for every last atom in our bodies, then in less than 4 years we replace our entire bodies down to the last atom, and in 1 year - 98% of it.
"If we think we are our material body, then we certainly have a dilemma: which one are we talking about? The physical expression of the body is merely the river. There is something underlying that which is much more fundamental.
A particle is a wave, and a wave is information.
"While the force fields are fields of force, they are also fields of information and knowledge."
We are, according to the information in this talk, made up of non-material intelligence interracting with itself to create both mind and matter. We are not physical machines that have learned how to think. We are "pulses of intelligence - thoughts - that have learned how to create the physical machine."
Frequencies of consciousness conceive, govern, and construct the physical body and the whole universe. This is the model of Ayurveda, which science is now telling us may be true.
"To think is literally to create."
Neuropeptides: The Biochemical Equivelent of Thought
When you have any thought or idea, it transforms itself into a molecule.
"To think is to practice brain chemistry."
The way our neurons communicate is through the language of neuropeptides: the biochemical equivalent of thought. Neuropeptides are the messenger molecules that fit into the receptors on the cells.
These receptors exist not only in brain cells, but also in other cells throughout the body. For example, the cells that make up our immune system all have receptors to neuropeptides. These cells that help us fight against cancer and so on, literally "eavesdrop on everything you ever say to yourself throughout existence." Since the immune cells produce the same kinds of neuropeptides that the brain makes, we can conclude that our the cells that make up our immune system are thinking cells!
When researchers look elsewhere in the body, they're not only able to find these receptors throughout the entire body in every organ, etc, but they've also found that these other areas of the body are capable of produceing the same chemical messengers the brain makes when it thinks - your heart, your stomach lining, etc. These organs are all literally thinking organs. Which reminds me of another article we've posted here on Holistic Culture on Biophotons and light as the language of a cell. If our entire body is capable of producing the biochemical sequence for thought, then strengthening the health of our cells through increasing the frequency of light by intentional thought makes a lot of sense!
If you have the idea that you're thirsty, your cortex immediately makes something called Angiotension 2 - the molecular equivalent of the notion of being thirsty. It modulates your behavior in such a way that you start looking for water. At the same time, the pituitary starts producing Angiootensiono 2, which triggers the secretion of another hormone called ADH, which makes the body hold on to water. The heart makes Angiotension 2, which makes the heart hold on to water. The lungs do the same, holding onto water. The kidneys do the same, making sure that only small amounts of water now pass into urine. Every cell has simultaneously had the idea of "I'm thirsty. I want water."
"We have a thinking body, and that body is literally a field of infinite correlation, infinite organizing power, and infinite knowledge. We cannot confine the mind to the brain anymore. It is in every cell of our body and beyond our body too."
This is all I'll share for now, but I highly recommend checking this out at your local library if they have it or looking it up online to see if the audio is accessible anywhere. SO MUCH more information and incredible detail is shared throughout the next hour of this 1 hour and 24-minute recording.
The New Physics of Healing, Deepak Chopra, 1990