Today’s Solutions: November 27, 2021

From The Intelligent Optimist Magazine

Fall/Winter 2016

Subtle ActivismThe Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary TransformationDavid NicolSuny Press

In the microscopic world of quantum physics there’s no such a thing as place or distance. The principle of “nonlocality” describes the apparent ability of objects to instantaneously know about each other’s state, even when separated by billions of light years. The principle is well established in science but it remains hard to accept for a human being who at least thinks she or he is living in a three dimensional reality. Albert Einstein rather dismissively coined the phenomenon “spooky actions at a distance”.

But here’s the important question: Why would nonlocality only apply to the smaller objects in the universe and not to bigger objects, like human beings who, after all, are made up of billions of smaller particles?

It’s unlikely that nonlocality does not apply to us; it’s more probable that we are not aware enough to notice the phenomenon, or that we are skeptically dismissing the experience.

David Nicol, Phd, who teaches in the Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, has written a book in which he argues that awakened consciousness can drive social change. In Subtle Activism he describes how, for instance, meditation and prayer can be used to support the peaceful resolution of a conflict. He analyzes the more than forty published studies done by the Transcendental Meditation movement that show that big groups of meditators can bring down the levels of violence in communities (see “The Revenge of the Spirit”, The Intelligent Optimist, January/February 2013). He points out that two-thirds of almost 200 controlled studies of distant healing on a variety of living organisms have resulted in significant outcomes. Example: If strangers in far-away places pray for people recovering from heart surgery, they progressed clearly better on various measures than a control group. The well-established placebo effect in medical science also shows a relationship between mind and matter that defies our three dimensional world.

Such examples strongly suggest, according to Nicol, that “nonlocality is indeed not limited to the quantum realm but can also operate at the macroscopic level, and that the practice of techniques like meditation or prayer by large groups of people may have a measureable effect on levels of social harmony.”

Despite the growing body of research that supports the vision that the mind—consciousness—can influence matter—reality–, it may take time before this will become an undisputed part of science. After all, the same quantum physics that introduced the concept of nonlocality also teaches that the observer affects the observed reality. Nicol is not waiting for a new scientific consensus to emerge. He concludes that there’s enough evidence to accept the idea that focused collective intention can powerfully and measurably contribute to social change. And he proposes “subtle activism” as a complimentary approach to activist movements for peace, environmental sustainability and social justice. Nicol is also the organizer of WiseUSA, which has led prayer and meditation initiatives around presidential elections in the U.S. since 2008.

Nicol’s book is no easy read because it challenges deep held convictions of what is real in the world and it takes the reader on a journey along complex scientific concepts and experiments. But the book is also very inspiring because it introduces the hopeful perspective that anyone can effectively contribute to a better world in the most simple way. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, Mahatma Gandhi famously said. David Nicol has brought together a lot of convincing evidence that you can be that change through your prayers and meditations. That makes Subtle Activism an important book.

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