Out for my afternoon walk I was overtaken by a huge, gangly black puppy dragging along his owner. They brought a smile to my face and jogged a memory of my lovely little fox terrier-corgi cross, Tess. I couldn’t help contrasting the use of a body harness/lead worn by the pup and my use of a traditional collar and lead, which on reflection must have tugged constantly on dear Tess when we went for walks.
Things change for the better. A kinder-hearted society looks for and discovers better solutions.
I’m pleased to see that enlightened thought today is urging us to re-examine and move beyond Darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest based on an exclusively material view of the world.
For example, scientific reductionist, Michael Mosley, on a recent SBS documentary, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, volunteered to be part of research into the latest thought-based sciences of epigenetics, neuroscience and mindfulness meditation and what they have to say about personalities – and whether they can be changed for the better.
It took a humble approach to prove to himself that he didn’t need to accept a genetic trait of a pessimistic personality, but could in just seven weeks find kinder, joy-filled life goals and outcomes that made him realise that he could change his pessimism to an optimistic outlook.
A secondary payoff for Moseley was the peace that comes from a positive approach to life. He said goodbye to long-standing insomnia and had a great sleep each night for the first time.
A whole-person approach to healing is gaining ground among doctors and in medical schools. Many clinicians now practice holistically (treating organ-brain-psyche-social connection) rather than focussing just on our biochemistry and automatically accepting the survival of the genetically fittest premise. The tendency to direct scientific time, energy and resources into exploring only material effects is giving way to a new breed of investigator and investigation into mental causation.
When Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species in 1859 he drew together a number of contemporary intellectual currents of the time, but his theory also raised controversy.
Back then, when a spiritual renaissance was also occurring in western thought, a deep thinker of the day, Mary Baker Eddy, addressed the controversy in fundamental terms, “The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)
Stephen G Post, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Founding Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stoney Brook University in the USA, concurs with Eddy’s conviction of the primal importance of spiritual attainments like love, honesty and humility to human health.
His new book and tribute to financier, philanthropist and spiritual thinker, Sir John Templeton, establishes a fundamental line of reasoning: “Is Ultimate Reality Unlimited Love?” The goal of his Institute for Research on Unlimited Love is “to greatly increase awareness of the emotional and health benefits of love, both for those who give it and receive it, through innovative scientific investigations.”
An example from the book showed that the incidence of heart attacks and other stress related illnesses was highly correlated with how self-focused the patients were. Researchers recommended that “a healthier heart can result when a person is more giving, listens attentively when others talk, and does things that are unselfish.”
If a humble heart is seeking a kinder and diviner world view by loving, caring and giving more, health will be one of the many side benefits. You could say that this is a science that is provable and repeatable.
The success of a humane and spiritual approach to life and health is explained by Eddy, “Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power.”
Some will be hesitant to champion a science based on love for fear of looking foolish, but consider what a humbled Michael Mosley reluctantly concluded, “It’s never too late for you to change your mind.”