Writing to an invisible audience, sweeping your heart out into a boundless Universe not knowing who is listening to it beat or whether the thump will be embraced or cast aside, is a courageous act. Fortunately for me, at some point during the writing of my last book, In Sweet Company: Conversations With Extraordinary Women […]
… we grow in our understanding of God as we come to understand our own stories more fully. — Rabbi Laura Geller, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
Recently a small group of kindred spirits gathered together at our house to celebrate the successful conclusion of a project we had worked on for many long hours. Candles muted the dining room in soft light. The food was beyond beyond. We told stories. We laughed a lot. It was a beautiful evening, an evening to remember.
A few days later, still carrying our closeness in my heart, I happened to watch a documentary that set out to prove that—despite our affinity for acquisition and competition—human beings are actually hardwired for cooperation. According to scientists, philosophers, and poets interviewed in the film, compassion and collaboration may well be embedded in our DNA.
The film looked at this idea from several perspectives: Scientists working with mirror neurons described how the same area in our brain lights up whether we perform an action or watch another perform that same action; that is, our brains have an “empathetic” and an imitative response to the actions of others. Scientists studying the body’s chemical response to compassion and cooperation reported a measureable increase in the surge of feel good chemicals (endorphins) released into our blood stream when we are happy or inspired. And that feeling of being “all choked up” or the prideful swelling in our chest that occurs when we witness the heroic or caring acts of others, is the vegas nerve’s natural biological response to altruism.
Beyond our physiological responses to compassion and cooperation, the film also explores the effects of our thoughts and actions on others—the idea that we live in a participatory universe. A discussion about quantum entanglement—what Einstein first called “spooky action at a distance”—demonstrated how electrons and molecules previously connected with each other “cooperate”—that they spin in the same direction, at the same rate, at the same time long after they have separated from each other, even when they are separated by great distance. Another scientist spoke about experiments with 65 random number generators installed around the world, computers that continually spit out an arbitrary sequence of numbers or symbols. When events like 9/11 or the earthquake in Japan occurred, when the mind of the world became aware of—perhaps, concerned about—an epoch-making event, the generators no longer behaved randomly; they produced a sequential pattern.
All these studies are, of course, open to interpretation. Yet, two things impressed me about the reporting: That all of this action within and without us takes place unconsciously, without our knowing; and that several days after our little dinner party, when I was still feeling the happy effects of our entanglement, I (randomly?) came across a resource that scientifically affirmed the lasting goodness I carried in my heart. Imagine what would happen if we actively, consciously participated in this process! It gives a whole new meaning to being “in sweet company.”
Check out the film at www.Iamthedoc.com. Your thoughts?