Tag Archives: you Are the Universe: Imagine That

Smell the Sweetness — Revisited

Originally posted October 27, 2015

Have the daring to do the risky thing - Bill Harvey

Annie was moving fast. She always moved fast. She did everything fast. She even laughed fast, and then quickly moved on to the next thing.

She whisked through the garden doing the necessary watering without noticing the sweet fragrance of new-mown grass and wildflowers. The softly scented breeze on her bare arms itself felt delicious and somehow combined into one thing with the scent. Faintly and unheard, a small inner voice related the moment to the song about a kiss you could build a dream on. The perfumed wind and quiet meditation could have been a winged heart dream, but all this was literally beneath her attention as Annie had things to do and if asked she would have said all her concentration was on getting the job done. There was some truth in that. She was intent on getting the tasks behind her, but not because there was good stuff ahead that she was eager to get to. And there was nothing like a state of concentration going on in her head.

Like so many of us, Annie’s mind was all over the place. It was not focused. Her movements were not based on a carefully-thought-out plan with clear priorities. She was just keeping up with the to-do list — in line with the pervasive tone of life in the Accelerolithic Era (aka Acceleritis). Most of us spend our time in this distracted state, which precludes Flow. There’s too much noisy messy input, with seemingly not enough time to process it.

Annie could be an artist. She is good with her hands and can envision a piece and create it. Doing that got her into the Flow state, where she did her best work — her gift to the world.

Making money at her art seemed like an idle fantasy judging from the toughness of the world, her surroundings and friends and the lives they all led. There was great beauty in her surroundings but the mood created by the difficulty of making enough money to live pleasurably without constant fear of money problems made that beauty literally invisible.

If Annie were hypnotized and asked patiently about why she is always moving so fast, eventually she would come to realize something she does not know: it is because she is always unconsciously striving to make money. Without knowing it, she feels that she will make more money by doing everything as fast as she can. She does odd jobs for friends and acquaintances, like working in a dress shop, washing cars, walking dogs, and landscaping, so there is some logic in that unconscious thought. However, in reality the fast motion causes a slowdown due to the need to fix things not done properly. Of course this also eventually causes her to not get as much work from her employers as she would if everything were always done rather than half-done.

One layer deeper she might realize that the quest to make money isn’t really because she wants to buy specific things so much as to please her partner and also to have other people be proud of her or realize that she is more capable than the way they have treated her.

Annie went on a hike one day and as the sun passed its zenith and the breeze began to be cold, she nevertheless remained bare-armed and slipped into that waking dream where she was uplifted out of Acceleritis-mode and into the Flow state and into what You Are The Universe calls “Soul-Level Two” — the bliss state, ananda. She was not moving fast. She was not under the dominance of any have-to-do compulsions. Her mind and body and every aspect of her were all lined up in the moment. There was no rush. She could see everything around her, hear it, smell it, enjoying the moment itself with nothing causing her to lose freedom or break the fast on motion.

This is the place all of us can live at every moment. And because we then give our finest performances at any beloved Game, we get paid more money for it. We cannot get there if we give up the inner drive to do a specific thing we love to do because it seems unrealistic, and instead settle into a mortgaged life of second-choice work that is steady and dependable. Like the hero or heroine in a movie, in real life we must pursue our highest calling: have the daring to do that seemingly extraordinarily risky thing.

Then we will smell the sweetness of Life. And because the Universe is us, if we actually do what we are uniquely designed to do so that we provide true value to others, the dreams will come true in the end as if by magic.

            Do what you like to do. You’re going to be doing it for a long time.                                                   — George Burns, while puffing cigar

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-10-27 12:09:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Infusing Life with Meaning

Originally posted September 29, 2015

In the absence of knowing, I’ve found a way to arrive at decisions that works extremely well for me. I call it Game Theory.

With Game Theory, when I don’t know what the outcome will be, I list possible outcomes and then see which ones I like, and what end result I want to create. Then see if I can make decisions that will get me moving in one of those preferred directions.

How much meaning do I want to see in life, in my every day, second-to-second life? If I want there to be rich meaning abounding, then I can choose to use a lens that gives me that view — a lens that makes things more explainable and understandable.

For example, in terms of the nature of reality, there are really only two clusters of lenses to choose from. One says there is something like a God, and the other says there is nothing like a God.

Through the lenses that say there is something like a God, there may appear to be an abundance of meaning in our lives. In the other cluster of lenses, there may appear to be a dearth of meaning — much happens that makes no sense, nor do we expect it to make sense.

I was in this lens for many years. It came from being so impressed by science as a kid. I can testify that there are good things about this lens. For one thing, it makes us feel terrifically autonomous, as independent thinkers, since most of the world is viewing things from the other stance. It sometimes strips away so many considerations that we quickly look at situations and see the barest of elements, the quintessence. There is a certain minimalist “cleanliness” if not clarity to this view.

Emotionally, the lens of being alone in an unbenevolent universe can be toughening, allowing us to more easily become fatalistic and to shed many of our attachments. We don’t make assumptions but are very common sense and down to earth: very empirical. We don’t lean on illusions or faith or anyone else to define reality. All of which can be good.

Another viewpoint, which I have dubbed the “Something like God exists” lens, affords meaning to everything.

Imagine Everything is a gift from the universe.

If you yearn to have more meaning in your life, I suggest using this lens without believing it to be the truth or disbelieving it. This way, you will always see the meanings you ascribe as tentative, without becoming locked into them or attached to your view. You may also see a wealth of value in using this lens, imbuing more meaning in your life.

Pope Francis’ visit to the US offers a great example of the utility of wearing the “Something like God exists” lens. Regardless of the religious beliefs you hold (or not), it’s difficult at best to not acknowledge the palpable message of love, hope and caring for one another that emanated so powerfully from the Pope’s presence even more than from his words, which were also so beautifully spoken.

None of us, not even Pope Francis, really knows the meaning of life. It is all a wonderfully thrilling awesome unknown, which makes life interesting, mysterious-mystical, immense, awe-inspiring. Wouldn’t we be missing something if we did know everything?

Since God or a universal intelligence of some kind* cannot be ruled out, wearing the “Something like God exists” lens allows you to start seeing possible reasons why certain things have happened — as if the universe is trying to help you by putting certain training obstacles in your path. I call this noia — being the opposite of paranoia.

By seeing things as possible gifts from the universe even if they are not, and even if they don’t feel like gifts at the time, we gain some leverage from being able to see how to use the event constructively.

Best to all,

Bill

* For a deeper dive into universal intelligence, see my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That.

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Originally posted 2015-09-29 09:45:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What Is the Meaning of Life? – Revisited

Originally posted September 1, 2015

When I was younger, I would ask this question whenever anyone, even a tour guide in a museum, asked me if I had any more questions.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn

Internally, it’s the question I asked myself multiple times a day all my life until I felt sure of the answer, which occurred sometime in my 30s.

The underlying question is “What is the meaning of ‘meaning’ in this context?”

The intent of the question is to understand what life is, what its purpose is (if any), what the universe is, what its purpose is (if any), why we are here, who we are, how we are to behave, what our relation is to one another, is there a God, and why are we compelled to consider any of this as relevant or meaningful to the second-to-second management of our personal business of existence.

One alternative to asking and answering this question to one’s own satisfaction is to go about life happily without caring about the question (which could be a Zen-like answer in itself, essentially filing the question away into the “Overthinking” file). Another alternative is to consider life meaningless, which many existentialists did in the last century.

Other than an intuition I had at age 12 that “I am God and so is everyone else”, which I tucked away as an interesting but unexplained aberration, the meaninglessness of life was my own position for the first 30-odd years of life. Around age 20, as I studied philosophy, I put reasoning around this earlier intuition, deciding that one took positions like this based solely on aesthetic preference, since knowability of the answer to What Is the Meaning of Life? was apparently beyond our scope.

In my 30s I had some unusual experiences that also reminded me of similar experiences in my childhood, at which point I felt as I do now — a very strong conviction that I actually know the answer.

The way I see it, all that exists is a single consciousness of such great computing power as to know everything that goes on within itself instantaneously at all times (though God or the One Self is above time). Since we don’t share this omniscience, God gets to play our roles with more drama and excitement. So the meaning of life must be to realize and enjoy this game as our true Original Self does, and thereby re-merge into the Original Consciousness.

I talk about this theory more in my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That.

From a practical standpoint, life becomes most meaningful for us to the extent that we realize our own unique gifts; we love doing the things inspired by those talents; we develop a life plan around sharing these things with others, and then we go forward with that plan without being attached to the outcome.

We then have a Purpose, a Mission, which satisfies the thinking mind of our own meaningfulness. Just as I go into meetings with awareness of my preferred outcomes, I set them aside at the last minute so I can go with the meeting flow, taking the standpoint of simply trying to help out everyone else in the meeting as best I can. Pragmatically and empirically, this appears to work best in balancing out the complexities of life as well.

So “What is the meaning of Life?” Enjoying it, loving it, loving all, and helping others to do the same.

“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return.”
— “Nature Boy”, by Nat King Cole

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2015-09-01 11:34:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What is Consciousness made out of?

Originally posted August 4, 2011

This may seem like an academic question yet it leads directly to the meaning of life. Who among us has not pondered the meaning of life at one time or another?

We know consciousness is real, we know it exists. As René Descartes said, “Je pense, donc je suis” — I think, therefore I exist — meaning that you dear reader know something exists because you are experiencing something right now. Rene might have said “something is being experienced, that is what can be stated with certainty”.

In fact nothing can actually be stated with such great certainty except that consciousness — that which experiences — exists.

So what is this stuff that exists? You and I both experience It.

It is the weirdest stuff around. Everything else is easier for our minds (consciousness itself) to grasp. That too is weird — consciousness finds itself weirder than everything else that it experiences, at least among the scientists who have dodged this question while ironically basing everything else in their cosmology upon the observer — which is the same “Self”/”Consciousness” that science has avoided investigating more deeply.

Matter, energy, time and space seem perfectly normal and reasonable to us. Those are names that we put on aspects of what we experience. Names seem normal and reasonable too. Just not consciousness — it is so ineffable, so hard to grasp, to even think about.

Scientists either avoid the subject entirely or else try to reduce consciousness to events in the brain. The late great physicist Evan Harris Walker in his book The Physics of Consciousness brilliantly posited that consciousness emerges from quantum effects at the synapses of the brain. This however has nothing to do with the experience of consciousness. It is the experience itself that we are interested in, not in how we might explain away these experiences by relating them to physical events. The latter explanations beg the question of which came first — i.e. consciousness could have created the brain rather than vice versa — and although we are culturally biased to consider that sequence absurd, there is no scientific evidence either way. It would be the definition of unscientific to take any position under those circumstances.

Those locked into cultural first assumptions are by definition unable to see past those assumptions or to even see that those assumptions exist.

Try this if you will: focus your mind on the experience of consciousness for a moment. What is it?

To ask what consciousness is made of is itself evidence of our predisposition to assume that substance — matter or energy — is the substrate of the universe, so that everything in the universe must be made out of either matter or energy. This is just a bias.

But let’s play along with that bias for awhile. Is consciousness an energy? Okay, if so, then what is energy? Simply saying that energy is a force or a force field is just replacing one name with another — it does not tell us anything, it adds no new information — we are just playing with words.

Today scientists relate to energy in terms of waves radiating from a source. That itself is an ancient metaphor to waves on the ocean. Scientists assumed for a long time (some still do today) that waves must be waves in something. In Newton’s time the term aether (“ether”) was the stuff the waves were waving. By Einstein’s time and our own the concept of an aether has become passé. Today we are more comfortable thinking that things reduce ultimately to wavicles — things that have both a wave and a particle aspect depending on the choice of instruments and experimental conditions the observer chooses to set up.

Do you begin to see The Great Circular Argument going on here? Really the modeling of “what is” falls back on the way we as humans perceive the world and the ultimate categories we place as contexts around everything else — the way we perceive time and space — the apparent hardness of matter — which we now know is actually the mutual repulsion going on in electromagnetic and nuclear energies at subatomic levels. There is no hardness, it is a subjective readout our brains feed to our consciousness. We are trapped in Plato’s cave, making up possible stories about what is really out there. But what is in here?

The Theory of the Conscious Universe* postulates that everything in the universe reduces to neither matter nor energy, but to INFORMATION. But then what is information?

The clue comes from deconstructing the word into its parts: IN…FORMATION — information is a pattern — a formation. Any pattern is information — even randomness. Since information exists in the form rather than requiring a substance — form and substance being an ancient division of aspects of things going back at least as far as the Vedas — information can exist even in something that is substance-less.

In fact we see this every day in our computers — which contain and send and receive and process information — but that information does not have a concrete substance — it exists when stored as energy/nothingness, as both charge and non-charge, representing zeroes and ones. The nothingness (the zeroes) are as much information as the 1’s (electric charges).

What then is consciousness? It is the Self — the capacity to experience — that which experiences — and the experiences are information received by the consciousness or Self. The information appears to us to be coming from something that has independent existence outside the Self. It appears that hard and/or wet and/or gaseous objects out there are encoded as electromagnetic signals that strike our visual sense organs which then encode them as electrical pulses in our brain — or that strike our apparent body where they are converted to electrical pulses we call touch — or as compactions and expansions of air that cause pressure against our auditory sense organs where again they are converted to electrical pulses in our brain — or as interactions with our taste and smell organs, also winding up as electrical pulses in our brain.

But all of this could actually be taking place in our Self. There might be nothing out there because there might not be an “out there”. Our experience would be the same.

One way or the other, we can definitively state now two things: the Self exists — the Experiencer — and information exists, for this is what gives variation to what we experience. Both the Self and information exist in consciousness — this much can be stated as fact. The rest is supposition.

But why am I capitalizing Self? The answer in our next posting — our response to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

*The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

All the best,

Bill

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Originally posted 2011-08-04 06:42:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Maximizing the Emotional Fullness of Life

Originally posted July 28, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

Why I am writing about this subject — The Theory of The Conscious Universe?

To explain let me go back a few thousand years to the earliest philosophers — folks like Thales and Epictetus, Socrates and the many other earliest thinkers at the dawn of written language.

Philosophy itself means the love of knowing. “Knowing” itself was one of the first subjects of philosophy — philosophers asked “what is knowing?” and “how is it possible that knowing can exist?” This sub-field of philosophy is called epistemology, as you may know.

Significantly, the root of the word “knowing” is “to see” — you may recall that in an earlier post I pointed out that being primates whose dominant sense is sight, we humans put seeing on a higher pedestal than our other four physical senses.

To me the two most important words that explain why philosophy exists are “wonder” and “awe”. These primal feelings/intuitions are the driver of philosophy, and it was philosophy that gave rise to art and culture, science and technology, morality and religion. First we had those feelings, then intuitions arose to guide us in the right direction to realize unspoken questions and to figure out the best ways of trying to seek answers. Without those feelings where would we be today? Perhaps still in trees.

Growing up I was unwittingly recapitulating the race’s ontogeny — feeling those feelings and being led through the same kinds of intuitions the early philosophers had, even before I could read such works and discover that others had been there long before me.

Freud called these feelings “the oceanic experience” (highly recommended reading: Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents). He postulated that religion came from this sense of something larger than ourselves. Remarkably, there may be nothing larger than our Self, if The Theory of The Conscious Universe is the right explanation of the meaning of life. Our Self may be the only thing that actually exists, and the cause of everything that we experience. In fact this idea is the core of The Theory of The Conscious Universe: all that exists is a single Consciousness, capable of “entertaining” Itself by making virtual copies of Itself, each of which shares the experience of being a self, and may be denied full or partial memory of who it really is. The Original Observer sees through the eyes (or other sensory equipment) of the virtual copies and the copies may or may not be(come) aware of the looker above who is also seeing out their eyes.

So back to my reason for these writings, despite the fact that the daily interests of my dear readers may be focused totally elsewhere. The reason is this: The Theory of The Conscious Universe bears the promise of an ability to restore the magic of life, without the need to take things on faith, engage in superstition, or follow rituals which to some may not feel natural. If it is true that Consciousness is the supreme nature of the Universe, and that each of us is a reflection and a particularization of the Absolute Consciousness in a sacred game making each of us a unique and important experiment in a celestial and divine process, and that this in no way steps away from the scientific method and the disciplines of scientific thinking — then how much emotional fullness might be restored into everyone’s daily lives by recognizing this heritage?

Who among us has not had the experience of lying on your back in the grass looking up at the stars and suddenly feeling elevated, understanding deep down the importance and the excitement of the journey we are all on, and the hugeness of it all and our inextricable connection to it all? But after childhood, how much of this living large feeling makes it into our daily lives? Are we not ground down into pettiness? Do we not still yearn to feel the greatness of our existence each second of every day?

Even before proving that The Theory of The Conscious Universe is true, simply the fact that it could be true is enough to place all religion into a new light, as scientific possibility. In fact it would be unscientific to rule out the core truth of all religion, without having disproven it.

The unity and integrity of having all things inside oneself integrated into a wholeness of purpose, a meaningfulness, makes life emotionally full. In a highly rational culture such as ours has been since the Golden Age of Greece, we subconsciously are unable to get in touch with the greatest feelings we can have, unless we can square those feelings with the rational strictures in our minds. The Theory of The Conscious Universe can do that, without appeal to faith, because it is a scientific explanation for “what is”, which lines up with what we know from Quantum Mechanics (QM) and Relativity, and can explain why it is that time and space exist in our subjective experience and yet are not really there according to these cutting edge sciences.

That’s why I share The Theory of The Conscious Universe. It has restored the magic of life to me, and I wish to share that magical feeling with as many people as possible. Especially you people who have touched my life and to whom I am grateful for what you have taught and given me.

All the best,

Bill

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Originally posted 2011-07-28 18:09:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Old Wounds Can Eventually Heal

Volume 4, Issue 25. Originally published September 4, 2014

Young Bill on stage with his dad Ned and mom Sandy in wingsThe year was 1954. My parents, whom I called Pop and Sandy at that time (later Ned was renamed “The Chief” by a Native American horn player in his band and I then switched from Pop), took me out to dinner in Manhattan, which I loved. (We lived in Brooklyn.) Gallaghe’s Steakhouse or perhaps it was Joe Marsh’s Candlelight Clurb, which isn’t there anymore. I had a steak. We had a terrific time. I was in a warm glow by the end of dinner when they revealed to me their secret purpose for me that night.

Joel Grey’s “Star Time Kids” was shot at the CBS studio around the corner and I was to be on live TV that night, in fact, right after dinner.

I went from cloud 9 to hell in one second flat. I couldn’t explain why the idea was out of the question, I was too upset to think clearly.

They had always gotten what they wanted out of me in terms of onstage performances. They inculcated in me from my earliest memories that I had been born in a trunk and there was no question of me not getting up there and doing whatever the act was at the time. I don’t remember ever putting up any resistance to it until the night in question, since resistance was futile. Nevertheless, suddenly I was in a situation where for reasons I could not even articulate to myself, this trouper was going to let the public down. “The show must go on” (years later my father said this with a choke in his voice, the night he went to the club the day Sandy died) but in my case the show would not go on.

They tried to compromise with me, first saying, “Okay, just sit in the peanut gallery and you won’t even have to say anything,” but I would not hear of it. The best they could do was to get me to peek in at the studio, hoping that I would relent at the last minute and show what a trouper I really was. But one look at the blinding battery of klieg lights was it. I had my fill, and we went home in a sad cloud.

Sandy tried to make us all feel better. She explained what had happened, saying, “Billy is a trouper. But he is a perfectionist and wants to prepare fully to give his best performance every time. This time we forgot that and thought it would be easier on him to not have him know about it until the last minute. It was our fault.”

Ned agreed she was right but it never made me feel any better. All my life, whenever I was having a bad moment for any reason, this was one of the regretful memories that I would beat myself up with once again.

Separately I wondered from time to time how my life might have been totally different if I had gone the other way that night.

***

One night I was dreaming that Lalita and I were at an advertising/media industry conference somewhere, not in NY. I would be speaking that night. We were meeting people before the conference. Yana, my editor (who puts in all these commas), would be joining us but was late as the conference was about to begin. At the last second she came running faster than I have ever seen her move, down the long empty corridor with a red face and a big smile.

The conference started and a gent got up and gave a tepid 5-minute opening remark. Then the MC — of all people, the late Ben Wallach, who had been the Athletic/Social Activities Director at the Hotel Brickman — called me to go on next.

In the dream I suddenly realized we had forgotten to bring the slides. I didn’t even know what the conference was about.

In previous dreams of this kind there was a hideous moment and then I would wake up.

This time was different. I realized I had no idea what I would say, but something in me felt perfectly willing to go up there and see what would come out of me. I started for the stage.

And then I woke up.

When I told the story to Lalita she said, “You woke yourself just in time to not have to experience making a fool of yourself.”

But it wasn’t like that at all. I woke up feeling exhilarated. I didn’t know exactly why at first. I knew I was pleased with myself for the total acceptance of the challenge that traditionally had been my Waterloo: being unprepared for public performance. I knew that the way I react in dreams is exactly what I would do in the future. I felt liberated, released.

Then it hit me: this was the erasure of the Star Time experience. Closure of that karma. Full circle. After a lifetime of disappointment in myself for how I’d handled that moment, I had redeemed myself. I am a trouper.

So what’s the point of my sharing this story? What do you, the reader, get out of it?

We all have deep wounds. Some are papered over by repression and some may be with us all the time. Whatever they are, if we take them out and look at them from time to time, and make it an active intention all our lives to become that which we hold as our own ideal self in real everyday life, inevitably in time — sometimes decades as in this case — we get there.

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2014-09-04 12:05:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter