We are surrounded by messages of scarcity. The economy is in recession and more and more friends and family are without work or are having trouble living comfortably. Cities are going bankrupt and cutting back on critical services like education, police and fire personnel. Our ever growing population and demand for cheap energy and natural resources is stressing ecosystems in the oceans and on land.
Is this apparent scarcity truly reality?
Is it possible we are living in an abundant universe that can take care of all of us without knowing it?
The answer is “yes” if we can learn to see our world in new ways consistent with recent advances in physics, psychology and consciousness science. A scientific revolution on par with Galileo’s insight that the earth resolves around the sun is underway. Like prior revolutions, this one will only enter the mainstream slowly but those who adopt its lessons sooner will find new opportunities where others only see limits.
Quantum mechanics tells us that we live in a universe in which many states of reality are superimposed over each other, and the act of observing is needed to determine which one becomes “reality.” As John Wheeler, former Professor Emeritus of Physics at Princeton University described, we live in a “participatory universe” in which an observer is actually required to bring the universe into being.
What this means is that YOU and your consciousness play a role in bringing the universe into being.
While this principle is not itself easily proven, recent research at some of the nation’s leading universities by academics like Daryl Bem, Dean Radin and Stephan A. Schwartz is validating that the lessons of quantum mechanics seem to apply at human scales. In addition, writers like Gregg Braden and Lynne McTaggart are starting to popularize these findings and make them accessible for non-experts.
Looking next at social psychology, research demonstrates that our core beliefs and values shape how we view and interact with the world. For example, many experiments have shown that prosocial and cooperative behavior derives significantly from past experience combined with some overall personality differences. If you believe that you live in an untrustworthy universe, your behavior is likely to confirm this bias. On the other hand, if you are generally trusting and open, you are more likely to call forth trustworthy behavior from others.
Psychology and mythology also inform us that true transformation of deep beliefs and habits often requires a letting go of current forms, and a fear-inducing period while one navigates the psychological darkness of the unknown. I have written about Joseph Campbell’s view of this “hero’s journey” in a previous blog post.
In summary, psychology teaches that what you believe partly determines the types of outcomes you will experience. It also teaches that shifting core beliefs can require a fearful period of navigating the unknown.
Moving on to neuroscience, we find that researchers have discovered that the amygdala in the brain is responsible for emotional learning and fear conditioning. It consolidates memory, even from the gut, slowly over time in ways that shape our emotional responses to different types of experiences. A person’s fear of social situations, or anxiety related to perceived scarcity, is determined by the amygdala through patterning past experience, especially when one was young. These emotional responses can profoundly shape one’s lifetime perspective. For example, a recent study has found that the tendency to be politically conservative vs. liberal is shaped by the size of the amygdala in combination with formative experiences when one was young.
In addition, neuroscientists have discovered that fear responses can be unlearned and openness cultivated in different ways, including through magnetic stimulation and the careful administration of psychedelic substances. With less fear and greater openness, new possibilities can emerge and be realized.
The core lessons here is that while some people are genetically predisposed to be more fearful, ultimately fear conditioning is governed by a process in the brain that we understand and that fear unlearning is also possible.
When we bring together these findings from physics, psychology and neuroscience some interesting new possibilities begin to emerge. If our consciousness plays a role in actually shaping our universe, and if our beliefs play a role in determining outcomes, and if we can overcome our fear associated with changing these beliefs, then it seems possible that we can actually shift our consciousness to recognize and co-create an abundant world.
In fact, a variety of leading self-help gurus and trainers are already sharing some of these insights with their clients. Gay Hendricks has put forth similar ideas in his book The Big Leap. One website hosts a lecture series including contributions from 37 different trainers who all teach that we can take positive steps towards creating abundance. Others promote the “law of attraction” which makes the same point from a slightly different vantage point. There seems to be a truth that more and more people are awakening to and finding helpful in their individual lives.
Is it likely that we will experience a shift towards abundance not just as individuals but as a society generally? The evidence suggests that the answer is “yes.” Not only is this the way scientific revolutions naturally progress, but research has shown that there is a relatively small number of people who need to make the shift before the rest come along. For example, a study in the Middle East has shown that peaceful meditation techniques practices by a small number of individuals has a measurable effect on the level of conflict in the broader community. In fact, this study was even able to estimate that it only requires the square root of 1% of the population to change the way they interact with their world for the effects to ripple through the entire population.
The daily news and workplace gossip are full of tales of scarcity and lack, but they do not tells us about deeper, subtle and positive emerging trends that are slowly growing in force, nor do they give us the courage to envision new possibilities. I urge you to stay in touch with these emerging, hopeful trends and to find friends to help you put them into practice in your life.
Peter Diamandis, entrepreneur and founder of the X-Prize, outlines in his new book Abundance a variety of ways that the future will be better tomorrow than today through technological innovation. But I would argue that this will be an effect of a deeper shift towards abundance consciousness than the cause. It is the deeper changes in how we view the world that will help to unlock the discovery and adoption of these practical innovations. The upcoming Wisdom 2.0 Summit in the Bay Area is an indication that even our techno-entrepreneurs are recognizing that deeper shifts are needed.
As more and more people make this transition to a post-Newtonian worldview we will see unexpected positive changes occurring more and more frequently. Many of these will seem like miracles to those who have not yet learned of the new principles behind the changes, but this was also true of previous scientific advances like electricity and flight. I believe this new paradigm will have at least as large an impact on our lives. Do you see any signs of this in your own life? What does your intuition tell you? I look forward to hearing your insights and experiences.