THE HAPPIEST MAN IN BABYLON
Chapter One: The 'Big Game'
Each year we would meet for the Cal - Stanford 'Big Game.' Both college football rivals had non-winning records at the time, so that name was a bit loose. Often, so was the play. But the 'Big Game' is what the late November event is called.
Cal track teammates Steve, Carl, Bobby and myself, Evan, would meet at Kip's Restaurant off Telegraph Avenue near campus, have a few beers to catch up, laugh a lot, then walk up the hill to the stadium, or trek across San Francisco Bay, for the ‘Big Game.’ Camaraderie rather than sport was the attraction for our annual get-togethers. Our friendship developed further over the years, despite having very different viewpoints.
Discussions were always lively and hilarious. We looked forward to our Big Game meetings as one of our highlights each year. We would sometimes bring our wives or girlfriend-at-the-time to these fun rendezvous. Each year Steve would astound us with a starlet or pop singer who accepted his offer to see a college football game and be seen with an equally famous person.
We happily filled hours and hours with stories of successes and misdeeds, bawdy jokes, and dreams for the future. Most people consider birthdays or Christmas or other holidays their most important holidays. Ours was the ‘Big Game.’
At first, we little suspected that these meetings would evolve into discussions of such life-changing importance.
I remember the day several years ago when our yearly rendezvous took an important philosophic turn. Our before-game discussion started as all fun and laughs as usual. Steve brought a stunning model this trip. Carl always brought his wife Dee. Bobby quit bringing his wife because she seldom spoke and never understood our humor. This is the first time the guys met my Thai girlfriend Bee who just arrived on a fiance visa.
Steve would often tell off-color stories and jokes. Carl's humor was cynical, but funny. Bobby the preacher would tell clean jokes and anecdotes. We liked Bobby because of his warmth and charisma. Being a ‘man of God,’ he encouraged our moral sensibilities. I think my subtle humor produced longer laughs because there was more thought involved.
I noticed the guys taking a growing interest in how thoroughly my girlfriend Bee would laugh. When she understood our humor, she closed her eyes, wraped her arms around herself and writhed around in her chair as if in ecstasy. This fascinated the guys. Bee's displays were so infectious that we would all laugh again in empathy. Carl's wife Dee would observe such complete outflow of joy with, what I detected, a tinge of envy. I noticed that Steve's model date had been constantly studying Bee, surely taking mental notes.
I remember Steve saying in a good natured way, "Now what?" That started our inquiries which transformed our lives. We began to realize that something important had eluded us. We concluded that we owed it to ourselves to find what was missing.
It was nearing game time, so we walked up the hill to the stadium. Steve and Carl both confided in me, "Wow Evan, you sure have a sweet lady."
“I know," I said.
As usual, we would meet at Spengler's Restaurant on lower University Avenue after the game.
We were among other alumni groups waiting in the lobby for a table. University of California sports fans have learned to be philosophic about football losses. We chose to focus on our good times in college, and were proud that our school produced such productive, successful people. We ignored Berkeley's other reputation for omnipresent counter-culture characters as part of a tolerant university community.
Once seated and ordered, Steve, Carl, Bobby and I resumed our stories about our previous year. And our dreams of the future.
The guys again were keenly observing my girlfriend Bee. Often I had to translate a story or joke beyond her minimal grasp of English. She would collapse against me in boundless hilarity. That prompted Steve to say, "Wow Evan, your girlfriend sure has an amazing expression of joy. Wish I could do that."
Carl added, "I was thinking the same thing.”
Bobby asked that each of us what we might want beyond our current successes and experiences.
I told the story of my first trip to Thailand which started the desire to change my life. Bee had heard this story before and sat back in her chair and looked into the distance. But the guys didn't know what to expect and leaned forward to the story. I asked a sweet cutie, omnipresent in Thailand, to go with me on a motorcycle ride in the mountains outside Chiang Mai. On a remote jungle road, the motorcycle got a flat tire. My reaction was anger and profanity. Kanya (I'll never forget her name) looked at my odd behavior with giant warm eyes. The complete absence of any anger in this girl profoundly contrasted with my temper display. It was a moment of revelation. She looks at the world from a viewpoint of joy. I then realized that being joy-centered is exactly what I wished for my life.
Carl asked about the flat tire. I forgot to finish the story. We walked the rented Honda back down around the mountain road a few bends to a shack with a motorcycle repair bay atone side. A smiling old lady appeared, had the tools, and easily fixed the flat. She did not want any money for the repair, but I gave her 1,000 baht, about $25 at the time, an amount she may never had seen all at once.
Dee asked about Kanya. She had no telephone, and stayed with me the rest of that trip. The last time I saw Kanya was at the Chiang Mai airport. This lovely simple girl will never know that she helped me make one of my life's most important commitments to myself - - to be joy-centered. The watering in my eyes showed the guys that this brief encounter touched me deeply.
Carl gave an assessment of his life. He said that his legal work is so time-consuming that his life suffers. “I look forward to retirement to focus on what is important."
Dee supported her husband with a story. When she and Carl were dating in college, they went to a restaurant after a Jefferson Airplane concert. on campus. That restaurant was filled with loud college kids, confident and enthusiastic about their future. Dee said that she and Carl will always remember an older couple, in retirement years, enter that restaurant totally and happily absorbed with each other, oblivious of the young raucous crowd. This couple had a glow and a joy about themselves that was fascinating. Every one of the college kids recognized the significance of this sight, and stopped talking to stare at the older couple. Dee said that she and Carl made a decision right then. Joy is exactly what they want in their lives. This is their favorite story.
Steve, having a life of fulfillment afforded by wealth, said, "I have everything. I have experienced everything. Every wish fulfilled. Every lust satiated. With every achievement, I ask, 'Now what?' Thanks to Bee here, feeling joy like she does is what I am looking for.”
Bobby added, "Look at children laugh. They know how to be happy. Somehow along the way, we lost what is vital.
I added a story. “Exploring rural Thailand and Cambodia and Burma, you see simple shacks built with only gathered materials. The families living there have almost nothing. Barely making a living with subsistence agriculture or fishing. Like Bee's family. But many people there have easy smiles and contentment. An enviable cultural difference.”
Steve said, "What a sad commentary that our ‘advanced’ society has strayed from what is most important. We need to develop joy in our lives."
Bobby then said something that would have previously passed over us. Now we were ready to listen. He simply said that we needed a way to experience the feeling of joy directly.
Carl objected, “Joy results from doing something to produce it.”
"I disagree," I said. "Our focus on ‘doing' may be the very reason we neglect experiences more important.”
Steve said, "I agree with Evan. It is time we learn to re-direct our attention."
Bobby asked us if we were willing to try an exercise.
“What?” Carl growled, fearing an attempt to proselytize.
Bobby replied, “PUT ATTENTION ON JOY.”
We were quiet. Steve broke the silence, “Hmm. Focus directly on what we want?” Bobby replied, “Exactly.”
Carl objected, “Too simplistic.”
“If our goal is to live fullest lives, this exercise might be useful,” I added.
“OK, I am willing to try the exercise," Steve said. Carl thought the exercise was a waste of time, but figured it could do no harm.
With our sports history, exercise is not a foreign idea. Bobby knew the joy exercise would produce the results we wanted.
Steve suggested, “OK, if this damn idea starts making a difference in our lives, let’s meet again for the Cal - Stanford basketball game.”
Like an odd class assignment from our college days, we would try the exercise, ‘PUT ATTENTION ON JOY.’
Four successful guys, best friends from college days, each with very different life perspectives, began a journey together with a shared goal.
Within 2 weeks back home, Steve, Carl, Bobby and I began describing our efforts to 'PUT ATTENTION ON JOY.'
We all noted that the constant chatter in our minds made the exercise difficult to do. Our mind wanders. Like our repeats at track afternoons, we would go again and again.
Steve then began reporting, “With persistence, it is possible to put attention on joy directly.”
I wrote, “With greater intensity and duration, the results are greater. I’m beginning to remember and experience the joy I had as a child.”
Steve said, “It is amazing our exercise works as well, maybe even better, in high activity as in silence.”
Bobby boasted, “I knew you would find putting attention directly on joy is transformational.”
Carl even got into the exercise. Dee said that Carl is losing his grumpy, sarcastic edge. “He can sit with a peace I’ve never seen before.”
Steve thought that the joy exercise was producing changes in the brain synapses and physiological chemistry. I wrote to him that it would be significant if he could show that our exercise actually produces organic changes. He replied that it would be a worthwhile study.
I conjectured that perhaps discovering joy was actually discovering ourselves. I recalled the expression, ‘What we are looking for, is who is looking.’
Steve began organizing our next get-together for the Cal - Stanford basketball game.
We met at the restaurant the morning of game day as planned. This time our discussion was different. Previously meetings were for laughs, have a few beers, and see a game. Now we had a more significance purpose.
Carl and his wife Dee were in good spirits. This was a rare time that Bobby was accompanied by his quiet wife. Steve brought his corporate secretary Marlee whom I recognized as Steve's girlfriend at Cal years ago. I asked Steve why he separated from this smart beauty. He replied that they never separated. They made an agreement years ago that he would grant any wish to her, if she would allow his fault, fantasy flings. They had always been a team, and my guess always will be.
The guys were pleased that I brought Bee. They were curious about her. I explained that she grew up in rural Thailand without much. Her loving family most valued ‘sanuk’ - - joy. Western culture emphasis on possessions was less important. And her Buddhist philosophy made her keenly aware of Karma.
It was time to walk to the basketball game. At the lopsided score, we left early to get seats at our restaurant.
Seated and ordered, Steve thanked Bobby for suggesting our first exercise. “It seemed too simple that putting attention directly on joy could develop that feeling. But it works,” he said.
“Experiencing joy intensely is proving not only transformational in attitude, but also in health,” I added.
Steve then repeated an earlier phrase, “Now what?”
I had been thinking about this for a while, "OK, another basic experience which affects our enjoyment of life is (and I said slowly), L-A-U-G-H-I-N-G."
Carl objected, "But laughing is only the result of a life situation.”
I replied, “For me, life seems to be most real when I am laughing.”
After a time of telling the funniest jokes we knew, it became apparent that laughing, like joy, is a fundamental expression of our existence. It could be transformational.
Steve suggested that a LAUGHING exercise should be our second exercise. We were familiar with the feeling of laughing, so this would be easy and a fun exercise.
Steve suggested that we meet again in several months. Acting the corporate boss which made him so successful, he commanded, “Let’s do it.”
For two months we took every opportunity to encourage intense laughing. We immediately saw putting attention on this feeling brought back feelings we had lost. Developing this experience could also be transformational.
Steve's girlfriend Marlee engineered our next meeting for the Cal-Stanford track meet which was in Berkeley. This was our first track meet we had seen since our competitive days. So we were excited recalling those enjoyable years at track practice and in competition. As usual, we arrived at our morning rendezvous within 15 minutes of each other with an enthusiasm that comes with a shared purpose.
Again, we told stories. Again the guys were fascinated with the intense joy Bee displayed when she laughed. She did so with such total abandon it seemed to consume her whole body. Bee is naturally shy, becoming more so when she notices attention on her. The guys quickly assured Bee that they admired her ability to express herself so totally.
Before Bee's US fiance visa had expired, I married my longtime Thai girlfriend in a beach ceremony in Hawaii. There was another round of congratulations to her. And especially to me.
Steve reported that he wanted to carry the exercise further than just putting attention on the feelings of laughing. We were not surprised that he and two corporate executives went to the San Francisco 'Laugh Club.' “Maximizing hilarity felt like I was getting in touch with who I am.”
“That’s it!,” I said. “Maximizing hilarity. That is what Bee does which we admire. We are learning to do that that too.”
Dee reminded us of the story of the beaming older couple she and Carl had admired years earlier. She said that as a result of doing the joy and laughing exercises, they are now that couple. College age kids are now staring at them, recognizing the significance. Carl listened, saying nothing, but spoke volumes as he hung his head in embarrassment as we looked in his direction. Tears were falling.
Bobby said that when he discreetly incorporates the JOY and the LAUGHING exercises in his services and TV shows, the response is enormous.
Carl took a cheap shot, "Revenue is up." Bobby was not amused.
Steve speculated again that laughing perhaps has a ‘shape.’ He wondered if his body could adapt to superimposed forms. He made reference to Plato’s ‘Cave Allegory’ and to Jung’s archetypes. He reiterated that it would be a worthwhile study to show the joy exercise and laughing exercise changed brain chemistry and physiological function.
I said that the first two exercises were an epiphany for me. “Putting attention on joy made me more aware of myself - - my own individual viewpoint. Laughing felt like an outflow beyond myself - - to a universal viewpoint. It seems there can be a resonance between individual viewpoint and universal viewpoint.”
We felt that our lives were turning upside down. Or perhaps more accurately, we were righting ourselves.
It was time to walk down to the track.
It was such nostalgia seeing the track again. Those were simpler times. If it were possible to know, in those days, how our lives would evolve, we surely would have been pleased.
Between events, we had time for reminiscing about our years in practice and meets on that track. We wondered how much effort would be involved in competing in Masters track meets now. We were still in good shape and could do it. But we decided just because we can do something, that does not mean we should do it. Bobby re-phrased that if we are smart enough to do something, we should be smart enough not to do it. Anyhow, our project of developing our personal lives was far more important than just another worldly accomplishment.
The outcome of the track meet came down to the 4 x 400 meter relay (‘mile relay’ during our time). Our anchor leg did not finish through, and was passed at the tape. That miffed Carl.
At dinner afterwards, Carl mentioned the anchor runner not finishing strongly. His pet peeve was people who do not act on opportunities. Steve made the analogy to our project - - “Maximize Life.”
We reminisced further about our competitive days. Sports had been a great teacher. We learned about the importance of being in good physical shape and about physical efficiency. We learned about focus and discipline. Work could produce personal improvements. We learned the importance of friends. And we were bold enough to act on improving our lives.
Bobby said, "Perhaps we should document the ideas we have learned."
I said that I had already been taking good notes of our meetings and communications. "I could write a journal of our observations."
"What, a How to Laugh instruction book?" Carl mused.
Steve suggested that our original goal was to find tools to live a happy life, so if we write anything, that should be the focus.
I had a brainstorm. "Have you guys read the book The Richest Man in Babylon?" Most of us had read this classic treatise on how to gain and maintain wealth. "We might document our observations in something called The Happiest Man in Babylon."
We all immediately liked the idea. I could fill in the dialogue at previous meetings, and continue note-taking. This story was launched.
Steve felt the metamorphosis in his life. “Our JOY exercise works. Our LAUGHING exercise works. Let’s continue exploring.”
He offered his mansion in Silicon Valley for our next meeting.
What followed next astounded us as well.
I had seen computer tycoon Steve's corporate campus in magazines. It was even more impressive in person. Buildings of mixed geometry were integrated with nature. Gardens were growing in structures, and structures were extended into gardens. Whole walls were retractable to adjust to weather and mood. There were indoor brooks and waterfalls. Some floors were soft grass.
Marlee lived in the giant dome with spirally-spaced rooms, accessed by an inclinator winding upwards to her penthouse comprising the top third. Marlee was the distance swimmer on the Cal swim team. Now she could take the circular water-slide, or the long jump, into her lap pool for workouts.
Steve lived in a reflective pyramid monolith, a giant studio. “Here is where I read science and tech journals, and dream of possible futures. And enjoy attempting piano along with classical, rock, and jazz,” he said.
Soon after arriving, we slowly jogged along the exercise track weaving through Steve's and Marlee's corporate campus. Past hanging gardens and multi-leveled ponds. The placement of waterfalls conjured images of Escher art.
The elliptical corporate conference complex ahead partly overhung from a mountain slope, and partly built into the mountain. It looked like a moored spacecraft. We entered the inner sanctum which Steve asked the architect to inspire feelings of being on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. His corporate decisions were made there, and now it was ours to explore our own new world.
Marlee was particularly looking forward to this meeting. She would suggest our third exercise. As usual, I jotted notes and filled in our dialogue later.
We began calling the joy exercise, ‘joy yoga’, and the laughing exercise, ‘laugh yoga.’
Marlee was excited to report that our ‘yogas’ led her to discover new feelings. “May I recommend you guys explore the most satisfying experience in life - - love.”
Steve supported his girlfriend, “We are a holistic system. Love is an undeveloped dimension of ourselves.”
Marlee continued, “If a joy exercise and a laughing exercise were effective tools to make changes in ourselves, a LOVE exercise would surely be welcome.
This idea sounded simplistic, but so did the joy exercise and the laughing exercise in the beginning. What she suggested sounded intuitively correct, so we agreed to try a LOVE exercise to see where it would lead.
We knew that putting attention on pure love would be difficult. There are so many physical and emotional associations with love. What a sad commentary for us to have difficulty experiencing or even remembering pure love.
The more we looked at this fascinating dilemma, the more we began to realize its importance. This became our focus. We postulated that improper priorities are made during socialization since childhood. Unfortunate associations are made which distorts love. This probably is the most personally devastating part of human development.
It was shocking to realize the intensity which misplaced love consumes our thoughts. It is amazing how and why we allowed them to develop so strongly. Being aware of this perversion of love is huge.
Just for fun, Steve, Carl, Bobby and I personally each began to catalogue the astounding number of bizarre associations we had with love. We did not openly admit to them, of course.
It can be reported that over time, we felt it is possible to put attention solely on love, free of associations. We concluded that understanding pure love could be powerful like our joy and laughing exercises. We felt it is a 'common denominator' of all people. We knew that exposing thoughts masquerading as love could solve so many problems. Personal. Between partners. Among friends. And even cultures. If we could only do it. Most images in society promote the misunderstanding of love. We felt this exercise is probably the most important pursuit a person could do. This was a big one.
After our meeting at Steve’s corporate campus, we went to San Francisco for the finest dinner at a revolving restaurant overlooking the city. Carl thanked us for introducing him to new ideas which changed his life. Looking around to those at other tables in the restaurant, he leaned forward saying, “Why would anyone choose to be anything other than happy?”
Bobby added, "I hear people say 'If I could have what I want, I'd be happy.' But really, it's the other way around."
The chapters to follow are grouped by topic, rather than by time sequence.
Exercise is Marlee's passion. She said that the energy from workouts makes her happy.
We all knew 'energy' well from our Cal track days, so energy is an understandable and comfortable subject. We know the pleasant sensation of power, of energy surges, and the endorphin-induced euphoria of heavy workouts.
Marlee added that she also feels the energy flow through yoga, and tai chi. and being aware of breathing. She reports focusing on breathing, holding the enigmatically thought, "Follow breath back to source."
We knew the importance of energy. Those who do not keep in shape, or do not experience intense energy flow, have a distinct disadvantage in well-being. But we thought that happiness could not be pursued by energy alone.
We knew that our exercises would not work without energy, We concluded that energy is a necessary component of our joy, laughing, and love exercises.
Earlier we had considered many approaches in our project. Might there be any insights or self-discovery benefits through the use of psychedelics. We thought it best to proceed naturally.
Steve recalled that meditation was mentioned as a possibility to examine. We were not keen to be like anyone we'd known in meditation cults. Or to emulate any guru. We felt that ‘enlightenment’ ‘is better achieved actively rather than passively. 'Turning on.' ‘Turning off' leads to incompetence and isolation.
We felt ‘transcendence’ is recognizing life from non- life through experiencing. “The way out is the way through.” Re-creating one’s Karma rather than avoiding it. We wish followers of gurus ‘good luck.’
Our meditation would be the joy and laughing and love ‘yogas.’
A philosophic disagreement emerged in our discussions. Carl thinks humans are entirely physical. Bobby and I believe who we are is Consciousness. Steve is still listening.
Carl was adamant, “Consciousness is created in the synapses of the brain. When we die, we disappear, except in memory by those still alive."
I presented the opposing belief, "We have a body, thoughts, feelings and ego. But we are not those things."
Carl said that Consciousness cannot exist without a body.
“Or,” I said, “We are individualized Consciousness in a body, like tea in a teacup.”
Carl objected, stating that Consciousness just 'springs to life' spontaneously in physical development.
I asked Carl and Steve, “Do you believe that when we have joy and laugh and love, this is just a mechanistic process?”
Carl quickly answered, “Yes, the exercises helped me because I re-programmed my chemical body computer.”
“Perhaps we dis-covered who we are,” I said.
Of course, for our goal of maximizing our lives, it did not matter which philosophy we believe.
I reluctantly presented a controversial thought I suspected Bobby and Carl would not appreciate. "Consider this fascinating postulation - - Consciousness-Is-God.”
Bobby was horrified. I pointed out that the 'Consciousness-Is-God' theory should not be seen as anti-established religion. On the contrary, it could be seen as a possible basic philosophy of all religions.
Carl mocked, “Saying we are Consciousness is harmless speculation. Saying we are God sounds egotistical and dangerous.”
I reminded that the theory makes a clear distinction between Consciousness versus ego, which is part of the physical world we are in. Consciousness is also called ‘Attention.’ ‘Awareness,’ ‘Knower,’ ‘Perceiver,’ ‘I AM.’”
Bobby quoted his prophet, "I AM the way." Steve quipped, “Perhaps he actually said, ‘I AM is the way.’” Bobby scowled.
I tested their tolerance for further ideas with ‘Consciousness-Is-Life.’ No one responded to that one.
Is the Consciousness-Is-God theory blasphemous to any religion? Contrarily, it might be a common philosophy of all religious beliefs. That would help address the cause of so many of the world's problems.
Steve and Marlee visited Bee and me in Hawaii. Bee has a good grasp of English now, and wonders why all the fuss about our ‘exercises.’ She constantly expresses joy and laughing, so ‘why the big deal?’ For us, coming from a materialistic culture, this is a big deal. We thanked Bee for being, in large part, the inspiration for our inquiries.
Bee is quite content running my farm which I gave to her. Steve, Marlee and I got into often humorous debates about our new, intriguing ideas.
If we indeed live in both the conscious and material universes, is there a hierarchy of dimensions or vibration levels between them? Are there sentient beings in other dimensions? Are we also in other dimensions simultaneously? We wondered how Consciousness physicalized. Is individually trapped? Is evolution ‘influenced?’ Does ‘free will’ have a goal?
We wondered how the material world began. And about the first ‘individualizations.’ The concept of Karma became prominent in our discussions. Can we ‘see’ and change the future? Steve and I expressed in humorous detail what we would do if we had the ability to choose our future. "That probably is why we cannot," I said. Marlee recalled the myth of Sisyphus.
Steve is thinking of ways to test if Consciousness could affect objects or events in the physical world. Could a collective of individual viewpoints improve the possibility? Profound if successful. Being a man of action, I would not be surprised if he showed such a cause / effect relationship.
Marlee paraphrased, "There are far more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies."
Our discussions often came back to the contrast of individual and universal. We agreed that it would be worthwhile to examine this relationship in a fourth exercise we called our LIFE LINE exercise. Each of us approached it in different ways.
Carl believes humans are physical units within a grand machine. He thinks such a LIFE LINE exercise will examine the history of physical events evolving to humans. A time line.
I believe we are each individual viewpoints of universal viewpoint. Individual Consciousness of universal Consciousness. My approach to the LIFE LINE exercise is experiencing a resonation between individual and universal. If I forget how to do the exercise, remembering the feeling of hilarity somehow reminds me.
Steve said the exercise is teaching him how to put attention on attention itself. “Can’t get more existential than that.”
Bobby’s LIFE LINE is prayer.
Will we realize there is hierarchy of dimensions between individual and universal? Are we in multiple dimensions? Will we learn new abilities? What will we do with the ‘spark of Consciousness?’
Bobby asked that this chapter be included in The Happiest Man in Babylon.
There are two parts to Darwin's ‘Theory of Evolution:’ 1. Survival of the fittest, 2. Generation of new species.
There is no doubt that the 'survival of the fittest' part of Darwin's Theory is correct. Those organisms which are the strongest or best adapted to their environment have the best chance of survival. The proof is seen though time.
But Bobby believes that the second part of Darwin's Theory, the 'generation of new species,' is incorrect. Darwin postulated that new species are generated by random mutations of genes which results in evolution. “Modern science continues to embrace this hypothesis, despite factual evidence which refutes it.”
According to Bobby, “Mathematicians and geneticists should be first to point out the impossibility of Darwin's 'generation of new species' postulation. Simply, the time required by a process of 'chance gene mutation' to produce the myriad of life forms and intricate systems we see is far insufficient. The math is just not there.”
Bobby continued to say the 'generation of new species' part of Darwin's Theory is also shown to be improbable by the fact that physical particles and systems, when left alone, tend to dissipate rather than to organize. Entropy does not favor such a ‘generation of new species.’
Bobby said that perhaps the most glaring flaw in the ‘random mutation’ evolution idea is the fact that complex new forms do not have survivable stages. “Intricate biological systems developing by chance don’t fit the facts,” he said.
An alternative explanation to the generation of new species hypotheses is that a 'willful intelligence' influences alterations in organisms. Proponents of this idea would be the first to admit that this idea cannot be defended scientifically.
'Lamarck's Theory' states that changes in form can occur by the will power of the organism itself, and those changes can be perpetuated genetically. Giraffes wanted to reach tall trees, so willed their necks longer, and that trait perpetuated. Cheetahs wanted to run faster, so willed their bodies sleeker and more powerful for them and their progeny. Scientists a century ago discounted Lamarck's Theory, stating that there is no proof that genetic changes can be individually willed or perpetuated genetically.
It is odd that given the option of believing either the 'design' idea which cannot be proven, or Darwin's 'random' theory which can be refuted, most scientists still prefer to believe the latter.
Science is evolving too. Will a new ‘generation of species’ theory be postulated?
The ancient city of Babylon flourished in various forms from 3000 BC for 2000 years. It was located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, in what is now Iraq.
Through a succession of wise leadership, Babylon developed and grew to become the most renowned city in the world. It was highly organized and was the first city to reach a population above 200,000. Huge public works projects were undertaken. Irrigation canals between the rivers made the fertile Mesopotamian plain agriculturally productive. Elaborate gardens were created within the city. At one time Babylon was surrounded by huge triple walls, a moat, and had drawbridge entrances.
It became a cradle of ideas. Science, medicine, history and mathematics were advanced. Education and the arts were valued. Religion was allowed to be practiced. Money as a means of exchange was invented. The ideas of capitalism with financing, promissory notes and private property rights were born. There was evidence of a stable political hierarchy, laws, and a justice system. Civilization was advanced in Babylon.
Eventually, Babylon began its decline internally by corruption and unwise political guidance. It was conquered and re-conquered. Plundered and re-plundered. It was abandoned to the winds. All that remains today is rubble and dust.
Babylon is an example of what happens when life priorities are lost. They forgot who they ARE.
We keep in touch by e mails. And we meet in Berkeley for the first football game of each season, and of course for the Cal - Stanford ‘Big Game.’
The restaurant near campus is always filled with the current crop of college kids, loud and confident. Most seemed focused on the trappings of materialistic life. Like we were.
Some of the kids might begin to realize that there is far more to experience than what the physical world could satisfy. Like we did.
Would they make the decision to maximize their lives beyond their accomplishments? Like we did.
Would they make the effort to evolve? Like we did.
Steve started a new round of thinking when he said, "OK, we learned methods to maximize our life. To be happy. Now what?"
Steve knows exactly what he wants to do: to create an inclusive economic system where everyone can be productive. We warned him with old phrases, 'You can lead a horse to water,….' And to be careful to 'give a helping hand, not a handout.' Yes, he knows all that. Steve will focus on creating opportunities for anyone choosing to be competent and be happy. He hopes to refine the productivity / reward economic system, and to promote the ideas we discussed to those who wish to maximize their lives too.
Bobby plans to show that world religions have more in common than the differences which cause so many problems. He is examining the Consciousness-Is-God theory as possibly the core philosophy of all spiritual beliefs. That certainly would unify all religions. And would include agnostics and humanists. Bobby received much notoriety from a TV interview saying, “It is impossible to be an atheist, because we are conscious.”
I am interested in philosophies and cosmologies of all kinds. This conjecture continues to intrigue: “A universe of Consciousness is fundamental to the physical universe.”
Carl and Dee had interests closer to home. They are content in their newly discovered joy of life.
We like the phrase, 'Now what?'
Copyright, November, 2009, Bill Pfeil, Bang Saphan Noi, Thailand.
Author's footnotes: I graduated from Cal Berkeley in 1966, B.A. in Philosophy, and for many years farmed in Hawaii. Website: http://www.billpfeil.com