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Breaking Down Religious Dogmas & Deciphering The Truth

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Religion is filled with a number of dogmatic concepts yet there are gems that lie underneath the doctrinaires of how to conduct one’s spiritual life. Setting aside religion’s literal depictions of creation and conduct on this earthly plane, one can learn to appreciate the core lessons and values embedded in each belief system without needing a devout subscription to many of religion’s divisive ideologies.

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What matters are the core messages of how to live a happy and peaceful life, while getting more of what you want and helping others do the same through proper moral conduct and harmony with divinity.

The questions that truly concern humanity since its conception are:

  • Who are we?
  • What is the purpose of our lives? What is our role in the cosmos?
  • How and why do we act the way we do toward ourselves and others?
  • What is happening in the world today and why?

Throughout this series we will explore shamanic, polytheist, and monotheistic myths and theologies to uncover and reveal that which is hidden below the exoteric presentation of spirituality in its organized forms. The immediate focus at the beginning of this series will be the ancient traditions, as much of their wisdom serves as the foundation of the modern religions that influence our culture.

This is aimed toward giving you an understanding of how various societies have described the basic laws of moral action, consciousness, and manifestation that pertain to the human condition, while grasping the unique cultural, geographical, and chronological understandings that all point to reasonably similar and useful understandings of governing yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. The applicable wisdom that lies underneath the dogma of modern theologies may provide clarity and guidance toward your journey of ascension.

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The stories and figures are not to be taken literally as they are archetypes, allegories, emblems, parables, and metaphors used to depict an understanding of how reality works in relation to the ethereal which is our microcosm deep and within, our grounded reality, which is our immediate environment, and the divine, which is the macrocosm far and beyond — all of which harmoniously work in accordance with each other.

Back then, without the tools and precision of modern science and mathematics accessible to the masses, as well as the useful level of technological development during those eras, an understanding of reality had to be depicted visually through symbology while engaging the imagination’s ability to add meaning and context to the quality of their stories of creation and conduct. The problem that spurred from this was that people demanded, coerced, and enforced that their word is the Truth. This right brain perspective can run wild, as those who subscribe to the strict ideologies of their faith take every word and depiction of their sacred understandings literally, with no room for practical analysis. This leads to division among people as well as unquestioned obedience to theologies that are tainted with man’s manipulation to control the will of the people.

fall of the giants

“We live in a world of numerous ideologies and belief systems, all competing for the same real estate, your mind.”

– David Snyder

Separate yourself from the superficial and dive deep into the esoteric meanings behind these stories and figureheads, as seeing past those illusions will enable you to reveal a common understanding of divinity and knowledge of self.

Did an enlightened figurehead such as Jesus really exist? It’s quite possible. If he did, was he really able to walk on water and turn it into wine? We can’t prove that. Instead of getting lost in those details, it is more important to understand the core applicable messages of his teachings as well as the other prophetic leaders, and stories told in religious traditions that share a core commonality with many other belief systems.

Our society focuses on the things that divide and separate our religions, which in turn separate us. Perhaps we can benefit from understanding instead what connects us, in relation to our needs and values. So in an attempt to break down the formality of these religions, I’m going to present the core knowledge that leads to a higher understanding of self and environment, as it will translate to better ways of governing oneself from within and navigating one’s journey without.

The word Religion comes from the Latin word “Religare,” meaning to tie back, hold back, or to bind fast. To bind is to thwart or hold back the progress of an opposing force or practitioner. A religion is a fixed point of view of understanding divinity, while holding back perspectives and levels of understanding the fall outside of the established religion. All religions share a core truth that the exoteric elements are holding back and because of this, the grounded esoteric alternatives of many modern religions are more interconnected with the commonalities of all cultures. Religion is a box for consciousness because you’re not seeing the whole picture.

Esoteric traditions were more grounded in the here and now while instilling the divine Will in one’s current plane of existence rather than seeking it only in the next life. The divine Will was to maintain balance and order so that everything that works within the system of creation continued to function. This form of order was not coercive authoritarian driven, it was an order that lent itself to responsibly maintaining the harmony and balance through systems and cycles that prevented chaos. Likewise hell on earth can exist within and without if proper balance and order are not maintained, as well as failing to resolve one’s karmic challenges in the present.

In marvel of the heavens, many belief systems are intimately connected with some form of astrotheology, which was the worship of astronomical bodies as Deities. To this day, very high levels of the Catholic church own some of the most expensive and powerful telescopes in the world, yet to the masses below those power structures of Catholicism, studying the night sky or even dabbling in one’s Horoscope is forbidden, as it is considered to be blasphemous. The study of the planets, stars, sun, and moon, as well as their relation to the cycles that repeat, such as their orbits and sequential seasons, intervolving solstices and equinoxes, are incorporated into the esoteric laws of analogy.

as above so below

The laws of analogy are very present in our understanding of the physical word, meaning, at different levels of reality, the same patterns and cycles repeat themselves; as above, so below; so within, so without. In light of astronomy and horoscopes, the word horoscope, which pertains to one’s life path in relation to the cycles around the sun, is derived from the name Horus, an ancient Egyptian sun God and later adapted into Greek language as Horos.

The ancient Egyptian culture and mythology, which has influence other religions, fundamentally subscribed to a sun worshiping religion. In many cultures the sun was their first astrological body, or higher power to be depicted as a deity. It was bright and luminous, it allowed one to see, and it gave life. One could feel the sun’s warmth and was starkly aware of its power to incinerate. It is tangible enough to be seen and felt, yet it was impossibly out of reach, as its presence and power were above those who marveled at it, making one an insignificant spec in comparison to it. Association with the Sun has laid the basic premise for the duality of many belief systems that integrate the polarities of light and darkness, a concept that will repeat itself much throughout this series as we explore other belief systems and ideologies.

Horus was the sun God, depicted as the golden falcon who rises in the east, flies across the sky in a solar ark until he reaches the west and Sets. He makes his trek across the sky daily across the horizon. The word Horizon means “the zone of Horus.” Hori is the generative word for Horus, Zon refers to the zone of Horus, thus it is the horizon of Horus, which is where Horus appears on the horizon. It is his arc, his flight path across the sky.

Horus is also named Amen-Ra. Amen is the name ancient Egyptians said after a prayer to evoke the sun God Amen-Ra. Amen-Ra represents the sun (Horus) at its zenith, which is the sun at its highest point. The zenith is the highest point in its arc across the sky. The highest point of Horus’s flight path, at 12 noon, is called Amen-Ra.

Horus is depicted as the savior who is anointed with the light, vision, and wisdom. He is the son of the creator God who brings wisdom by knowing what is seen with the light.

Horus has 3 main family members — a mother, father, and brother. His mother Isis is the moon Goddess of the night sky. At night she is the queen of the heavens who rules the night sky, while her husband Osiris is the creator God and ruler of the heavens. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Isis gives birth to the rising sun each day, which is the solar God Horus, who is given divine right by Osiris to rule and give light to the earth during his horizon.

After his trek across the horizon, his brother Set conquers Horus as his fall from the sky Sets into the underworld of darkness. (In other Egyptian stories Set is also depicted as his uncle, but either role has little consequence over the major role he plays as the dark pillar of duality.) Set is considered the dark figure, who is in a state of ignorance because he does not posses the light to see. He lives entirely in the shadows of darkness and ignorance, yet he is the conqueror of the light at night. Set represents chaos, death, and sin, and is somewhat of a devilish figure among the mythology of ancient Egypt. However, he is not entirely depicted as evil because the ancient Egyptians understood that his darkness was necessary for Horus’s light to exist. His bad qualities were more understood as an accepted duality between light and dark, good and evil, positive and negative.

Horus and Set were originally expressions of innate duality, the two aspects of creation playing a role throughout the cycles of the day-sky and night-sky.

In the picture below, Horus is touching the pharaoh on the right temple, and his dark brother set is touching the left temple. This represents the duality of consciousness. Horus is the right mind, wisdom, moral action, order, and peace. horus-and-set ramses

The left side is the God of darkness, deception, storms, chaos, anger, domination, control, and war.

Eventually Horus and Set reconciled and negotiated their conduct so that one wasn’t selfishly looking out for himself or having to defend against the other’s transgression. A trusting relationship was formed in which both sides began to understand the importance of their complimentary existence. Without this balance of opposites, Horus would not be able to uphold the balance of Ma’at. This balance gave Horus the ability to fight chaos, which was represented as well by the God Apep, who was even more of a personification of evil left unchecked prior to Horus becoming Ra. Set manifested chaos within, while Apep manifested chaos in the external environment. Since Horus, who was the light, represented the peace while being the God of war who instills Ma’at’s order over the chaos, one could speculate that the tactics of combat were consulted with Set since he had lived much of his life in affliction. It was during this time of balance with Set that Horus was able to reach his highest point, becoming Ra to fight Apep and instill the will of Ma’at on earth as it is in heaven.

maat-balance

Fighting the chaos of Apep was inspired by the will of Ma’at. Ma’at is the Goddess or conception of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. She carried out order in the heavens and on earth by regulating the stars, seasons, and regulating moral action of Gods and Pharoahs. Carrying out the karmic order and natural laws of the heavens was done on the earthly plane by fighting the external physical chaos of those who had abandoned truth, justice, and equality. Just as people who deal with the devil become ego-absorbed demon archetypes, people who were imbalanced in the ways of Set became Apeps. Foreign invaders who threatened the balance were also considered Apeps. Other forms of chaos beyond human acts on the earth plane were also considered to be influenced by the spirit of Apep. The union of Horus and Set is a lesson to Egypt’s citizens to reconcile the internal chaos within by accepting the parts of themselves that need the light’s guidance. As long as there was chaos within, the threat of chaos (Apep) existing in the external environment was imminent. Apep’s external chaos threatened to provoke the actions of Set within, making it more difficult to restore order and balance throughout the land and the people.

Both Horus and Set whisper in the ears of the pharaoh while the pharaoh has free will to decide who he listens to and what action to take. It was intended that he carry out the will of Ma’at upon his kingdom by creating balance within his inner kingdom. Pharoahs are frequently depicted with the emblems of Ma’at to emphasize their role of upholding divine order. Through the ruling of the Pharaoh, Egyptian citizens were expected to follow this legitimate form of order that is aligned with the principles of moral action, growth, and sustainability.

This was important to uphold because a disturbance in the force of cosmic harmony could have a significant impact on the individual and the state. A Pharoah self absorbed in ego could bring about disaster and chaos. In addition, the actions and judgments of the Pharoah were meant to guide the citizens through the ambiguous moments of reality, simplifying the principles of Ma’at so that choices of the citizens are made with the highest integrity and care. Obeying the order was not servitude to selfish authority figures, it was doing your part to integrate into the wholeness of an ordered, balanced, natural divinity, which is why authority and compassion were integrated into the foundation of ancient Egyptians.

The degree to which one obeys Ma’at will determine the karmic consequences weighing on the heart of the individual. The heart could only be rewarded for its devotion to Ma’at if it embodied the light, not only in its weightlessness but also in its luminosity to see the truth of proper action.

The ancient Egyptians used these myths and analogies to depict that each of these archetypes exist within us and the symbology of them is meant to remind us of their presence in our daily lives. They are moral, orderly, and divine symbolic analogies, an expression of consciousness, not to be taken as physical Gods.

They represent the pillars of duality: the light and darkness within ourselves that we must reconcile in order to make proper actions. The dark elements help us understand our fears and desires, and with this understanding we cycle back into the light of wisdom. They are Gods within us that influence our actions. Without balance the light and darkness are continually at war, battling for dominance over our behavior. To try and extinguish the darkness would only cause Set to resist with war. Negotiation was the only way because complete annihilation of the darker elements within was beyond our mortal capabilities.

Beyond our inner universe and the grounded earth, Isfet was the chaos of the heavens that threatened the stability of the heavens, which is the absence of light and order, injustice, chaos, violence, and evil, all of which threatened to trickle down into the earthly plane of form which interacts with the inner world of the Pharoah and his people.

On all levels of reality, this balancing cycle of order and harmony must be upheld to maintain the structure above and below. If the balance of Ma’at was not maintained, the ignorance of order would manifest as Isfet, which is chaos in the heavens, chaos in Apep who will disrupt the earthly realm, and chaos within Set, who will affect the Pharoahs and citizens from within. Isfet is more of an abstract concept with no known God attached to it to give its understanding a more relatable nature. It is seen more as the absence of structure and balance, which means that there is more responsibility on the part of Ma’at to maintain structure, rather than to blame external circumstances. It was pretty much all on Ma’at to balance the heavens.

Set’s chaotic and warlike qualities were reconciled to fight chaos outside of his temple. The Pharoah would fight manifestations of Apep through the actions of Horus, the emotions of Set, and the Instruction of Ma’at. As long as he was balanced with Horus, Isfet would not destroy their temple. The destructive force of Set was still useful when fighting an enemy of Ma’at. In the heavens, on the other hand, Ma’at was threatened by the absence of responsibility if she did not maintain order, not by an opposing deity who continually aspired to disrupt her. Lack of order in the heavens would cause a lack of order on the earth plane, causing irritability within Apep and Set.

Polarity and balance are the main concepts to understand in the Egyptian myths shared in this article. The Creator God Osiris gives man free choice to govern his actions, as both light and dark are his children, Horus and Set. In religion, dualism means the belief in two supreme opposed powers — Gods or sets of divine or demonic beings — that influence the world, which has had an important presence in the history of thought and religion.

Dualism can also denote a co-eternal binary opposition to indicate a system which contains two essential parts. Moral dualism is the belief of the great complement or conflict between the benevolent and the malevolent. It simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work. Some of these dualities imply harmony in which one balances the other, such as yin and yang, while other forms of duality imply rivalry and opposition, such as good and evil.

The process of reconciling between these two opposites will resurface throughout this series. It is important to have a foundational understanding and acceptance of the duality that exists within and outside of man in order to grasp the more detailed concepts of future teachings. In this case we talked about light and darkness as it relates to Horus and Set, brothers of the same father, one representing good, the other representing bad. It is only when we balance these two that we can become stable from within. This is not to say that darkness can have equal control over us. To balance the dark is to bring it into the light of consciousness so that it no longer controls you. The sight and understanding of that darkness will reduce its influence that threatens Ma’at’s inner and environmental stability. As we build our temple from within we must be aware of Horus and Set on either sides of our temple.

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Awareness

Epigenetic Memories Are Passed Down 14 Successive Generations, Game-Changing Research Reveals

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It's amazing how much information can be passed on to our offspring. Scientist have discovered that our DNA has memories, and these can also be passed down. We are talking about thoughts, feelings emotions and perceptions.

  • Reflect On:

    Biological changes are shaped by our environment, as well as our thoughts, feelings, emotions and reaction to that environment. Our DNA can be changed with belief, the placebo is a great example. Thoughts feelings and emotions are huge in biology.

This article was written by the Greenmedinfo research group, from Greenmedinfo.com. Posted here with permission.

Until recently, it was believed that our genes dictate our destiny. That we are slated for the diseases that will ultimately beset us based upon the pre-wired indecipherable code written in stone in our genetic material. The burgeoning field of epigenetics, however, is overturning these tenets, and ushering in a school of thought where nurture, not nature, is seen to be the predominant influence when it comes to genetic expression and our freedom from or affliction by chronic disease.

Epigenetics: The Demise of Biological Determinism

Epigenetics, or the study of the physiological mechanisms that silence or activate genes, encompasses processes which alter gene function without changing the sequence of nucleotide base pairs in our DNA. Translated literally to mean “in addition to changes in genetic sequence,” epigenetics includes processes such as methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, sumolyation, and ubiquitylation which can be transmitted to daughter cells upon cell division (1). Methylation, for example, is the attachment of simple methyl group tags to DNA molecules, which can repress transcription of a gene when it occurs in the region of a gene promoter. This simple methyl group, or a carbon bound to three hydrogen molecules, effectively turns the gene off.

Post-translational modifications of histone proteins is another epigenetic process. Histones help to package and condense the DNA double helix into the cell nucleus in a complex called chromatin, which can be modified by enzymes, acetyl groups, and forms of RNA called small interfering RNAs and microRNAs (1). These chemical modifications of chromatin influence its three-dimensional structure, which in turn governs its accessibility for DNA transcription and dictates whether genes are expressed or not.

We inherit one allele, or variant, of each gene from our mother and the other from our father. If the result of epigenetic processes is imprinting, a phenomenon where one of the two alleles of a gene pair is turned off, this can generate a deleterious health outcome if the expressed allele is defective or increases our susceptibility to infections or toxicants (1). Studies link cancers of nearly all types, neurobehavioral and cognitive dysfunction, respiratory illnessesautoimmune disorders, reproductive anomalies, and cardiovascular disease to epigenetic mechanisms (1). For example, the cardiac antiarrhythmic drug procainamide and the antihypertensive agent hydralazine can cause lupus in some people by causing aberrant patterns of DNA methylation and disrupting signalling pathways (1).

Genes Load the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger

Pharmaceuticals, however, are not the only agents that can induce epigenetic disturbances. Whether you were born via vaginal birth or Cesarean section, breastfed or bottle-fed, raised with a pet in the house, or infected with certain childhood illnesses all influence your epigenetic expression. Whether you are sedentary, pray, smoke, mediate, do yoga, have an extensive network of social support or are alienated from your community—all of your lifestyle choices play into your risk for disease operating through mechanisms of epigenetics.

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In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that genetics account for only 10% of disease, with the remaining 90% owing to environmental variables (2). An article published in the Public Library of Science One (PLoS One) entitled “Genetic factors are not the major causes of chronic diseases” echoes these claims, citing that chronic disease is only 16.4% genetic, and 84.6% environmental (3). These concepts make sense in light of research on the exposome, the cumulative measure of all the environmental insults an individual incurs during their life course that determines susceptibility to disease (4)

In delineating the totality of exposures to which an individual is subjected over their lifetime, the exposome can be subdivided into three overlapping and intertwined domains. One segment of the exposome called the internal environment is comprised of processes innate to the body which impinge on the cellular milieu. This encompasses hormones and other cellular messengers, oxidative stress, inflammation, lipid peroxidation, bodily morphology, the gut microbiotaaging and biochemical stress (5).

Another portion of the exposome, the specific external environment, consists of exposures including pathogens, radiation, chemical contaminants and pollutants, and medical interventions, as well as dietary, lifestyle, and occupational elements (5). At an even broader sociocultural and ecological level is the segment of the exposome called the general external environment, which may circumscribe factors such as psychological stress, socioeconomic status, geopolitical variables, educational attainment, urban or rural residence, and climate (5).

Transgenerational Inheritance of Epigenetic Change: Endocrine Disruptors Trigger Infertility in Future Generations

Scientists formerly speculated that epigenetic changes disappear with each new generation during gametogenesis, the formation of sperm and ovum, and after fertilization. However, this theory was first challenged by research published in the journal Science which demonstrated that transient exposure of pregnant rats to the insecticide methoxychlor, an estrogenic compound, or the fungicide vinclozolin, an antiandrogenic compound, resulted in increased incidence of male infertility and decreased sperm production and viability in 90% of the males of four subsequent generations that were tracked (1).

Most notably, these reproductive effects were associated with derangements in DNA methylation patterns in the germ line, suggesting that epigenetic changes are passed on to future generations. The authors concluded, “The ability of an environmental factor (for example, endocrine disruptor) to reprogram the germ line and to promote a transgenerational disease state has significant implications for evolutionary biology and disease etiology” (6, p. 1466). This may suggest that the endocrine-disrupting, fragrance-laden personal care products and commercial cleaning supplies to which we are all exposed may trigger fertility problems in multiple future generations.

Transgenerational Inheritance of Traumatic Episodes: Parental Experience Shapes Traits of Offspring

In addition, traumatic experiences may be transmitted to future generations via epigenetics as a way to inform progeny about salient information needed for their survival (7). In one study, researchers wafted the cherry-like chemical acetophenone into the chambers of mice while administering electric shocks, conditioning the mice to fear the scent (7). This reaction was passed onto two successive generations, which shuddered significantly more in the presence of acetophenone despite never having encountered it compared to descendants of mice that had not received this conditioning (7).

The study suggests that certain characteristics of the parental sensory environment experienced before conception can remodel the sensory nervous system and neuroanatomy in subsequently conceived generations (7). Alterations in brain structures that process olfactory stimuli were observed, as well as enhanced representation of the receptor that perceives the odor compared to control mice and their progeny (7). These changes were conveyed by epigenetic mechanisms, as illustrated by evidence that the acetophenone-sensing genes in fearful mice were hypomethylated, which may have enhanced expression of odorant-receptor genes during development leading to acetophenone sensitivity (7).

The Human Experience of Famine and Tragedy Spans Generations

The mouse study, which illustrates how germ cells (egg and sperm) exhibit dynamic plasticity and adaptability in response to environmental signals, is mirrored by human studies. For instance, exposures to certain stressors such as starvation during the gestational period are associated with poor health outcomes for offspring. Women who undergo famine before conception of her offspring have been demonstrated to give birth to children with lower self-reported mental health and quality of life, for example (8).

Studies similarly highlight that, “Maternal famine exposure around the time of conception has been related to prevalence of major affective disorders, antisocial personality disorders, schizophrenia, decreased intracranial volume, and congenital abnormalities of the central nervous system” (8). Gestational exposure to the Dutch Famine of the mid-twentieth century is also associated with lower perceived health (9), as well as enhanced incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity in offspring (8). Maternal undernourishment during pregnancy leads to neonatal adiposity, which is a predictor of future obesity (10), in the grandchildren (11).

The impact of epigenetics is also exemplified by research on the intergenerational effects of trauma, which illuminates that descendants of people who survived the Holocaust exhibit abnormal stresshormone profiles, and low cortisol production in particular (12). Because of their impaired cortisol response and altered stress reactivity, children of Holocaust survivors are often at enhanced risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression (13).

Intrauterine exposure to maternal stress in the form of intimate partner violence during pregnancy can also lead to changes in the methylation status of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) of their adolescent offspring (14). These studies suggest that an individual’s experience of trauma can predispose their descendants to mental illness, behavioral problems, and psychological abnormalities due to “transgenerational epigenetic programming of genes operating in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis,” a complex set of interactions among endocrine glands which determine stress response and resilience (14).

Body Cells Pass Genetic Information Directly Into Sperm Cells

Not only that, but studies are illuminating that genetic information can be transferred through the germ line cells of a species in real time. These paradigm-shifting findings overturn conventional logic which postulates that genetic change occurs over the protracted time scale of hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. In a relatively recent study, exosomes were found to be the medium through which information was transferred from somatic cells to gametes.

This experiment entailed xenotransplantation, a process where living cells from one species are grafted into a recipient of another species. Specifically, human melanoma tumor cells genetically engineered to express genes for a fluorescent tracer enzyme called EGFP-encoding plasmid were transplanted into mice. The experimenters found that information-containing molecules containing the EGFP tracer were released into the animals’ blood (15). Exosomes, or “specialized membranous nano-sized vesicles derived from endocytic compartments that are released by many cell types” were found among the EGFP trackable molecules (16, p. 447).

Exosomes, which are synthesized by all plant and animal cells, contain distinct protein repertoires and are created when inward budding occurs from the membrane of multivesicular bodies (MVBs), a type of organelle that serves as a membrane-bound sorting compartment within eukaryotic cells (16). Exosomes contain microRNA (miRNA) and small RNA, types of non-coding RNA involved in regulating gene expression (16). In this study, exosomes delivered RNAs to mature sperm cells (spermatozoa) and remained stored there (15).

The researchers highlight that this kind of RNA can behave as a “transgenerational determinant of inheritable epigenetic variations and that spermatozoal RNA can carry and deliver information that cause phenotypic variations in the progeny” (15). In other words, the RNA carried to sperm cells by exosomes can preside over gene expression in a way that changes the observable traits and disease risk of the offspring as well as its morphology, development, and physiology.

This study was the first to elucidate RNA-mediated transfer of information from somatic to germ cells, which fundamentally overturns what is known as the Weisman barrier, a principle which states that the movement of hereditary information from genes to body cells is unidirectional, and that the information transmitted by egg and sperm to future generations remains independent of somatic cells and parental experience (15).

Further, this may bear implications for cancer risk, as exosomes contain vast amounts of genetic information which can be source of lateral gene transfer (17) and are abundantly liberated from tumor cells (18). This can be reconciled with the fact that exosome-resembling vesicles have been observed in various mammals (15), including humans, in close proximity to sperm in anatomical structures such as the epididymis as well as in seminal fluid (19). These exosomes may thereafter be propagated to future generations with fertilization and augment cancer risk in the offspring (20).

The researchers concluded that sperm cells can act as the final repositories of somatic cell-derived information, which suggests that epigenetic insults to our body cells can be relayed to future generations. This notion is confirmatory of the evolutionary theory of “soft inheritance” proposed by French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whereby characteristics acquired over the life of an organism are transmitted to offspring, a concept which modern genetics previously rejected before the epigenetics arrived on the scene. In this way, the sperm are able to spontaneously assimilate exogenous DNA and RNA molecules, behaving both as vector of their native genome and of extrachromosomal foreign genetic material which is “then delivered to oocytes at fertilization with the ensuing generation of phenotypically modified animals” (15).

Epigenetic Changes Endure Longer Than Ever Predicted

In a recent study, nematode worms were manipulated to harbor a transgene for a fluorescent protein, which made the worms glow under ultraviolet light when the gene was activated (21). When the worms were incubated under the ambient temperature of 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit), negligible glowing was observed, indicating low activity of the transgene (21). However, transferring the worms to a warmer climate of 25°C (77° F) stimulated expression of the gene, as the worms glowed brightly (21).

In addition, this temperature-induced alteration in gene expression was found to persist for at least 14 generations, representing the preservation of epigenetic memories of environmental change across an unprecedented number of generations (21). In other words, the worms transmitted memories of past environmental conditions to their descendants, through the vehicle of epigenetic change, as a way to prepare their offspring for prevailing environmental conditions and ensure their survivability.

Future Directions: Where Do We Go From Here?

Taken cumulatively, the aforementioned research challenges traditional Mendelian laws of genetics, which postulate that genetic inheritance occurs exclusively through sexual reproduction and that traits are passed to offspring through the chromosomes contained in germ line cells, and never through somatic (bodily) cells. Effectively, this proves the existence of non-Mendelian transgenerational inheritance, where traits separate from chromosomal genes are transmitted to progeny, resulting in persistent phenotypes that endure across generations (22).

This research imparts new meaning to the principle of seven generation stewardship taught by Native Americans, which mandates that we consider the welfare of seven generations to come in each of our decisions. Not only should we embody this approach in practices of environmental sustainability, but we would be wise to consider how the conditions to which we subject our bodies—the pollution and toxicants which permeate the landscape and pervade our bodies, the nutrient-devoid soil that engenders micronutrient-poor food, the disruptions to our circadian rhythm due to the ubiquity of electronic devices, our divorce from nature and the demise of our tribal affiliations—may translate into ill health effects and diminished quality of life for a previously unfathomed number of subsequent generations.

Hazards of modern agriculture, the industrial revolution, and contemporary living are the “known or suspected drivers behind epigenetic processes…including heavy metals, pesticides, diesel exhaust, tobacco smoke, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hormones, radioactivity, viruses, bacteria, and basic nutrients” (1, p. A160). Serendipitously, however, many inputs such as exercise, mindfulness, and bioactive components in fruits and vegetables such as sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables, resveratrol from red grapes, genistein from soy, diallyl sulphide from garlic, curcumin from turmeric, betaine from beets, and green tea catechin can favorably modify epigenetic phenomena “either by directly inhibiting enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation or histone modifications, or by altering the availability of substrates necessary for those enzymatic reactions” (23, p. 8).

This quintessentially underscores that the air we breathe, the food we eat, the thoughts we allow, the toxins to which we are exposed, and the experiences we undergo may persevere in our descendants and remain in our progeny long after we are gone. We must be cognizant of the effects of our actions, as they elicit a ripple effect through the proverbial sands of time.

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References

1. Weinhold, B. (2006). Epigenetics: The Science of Change. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(3), A160-A167.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Exposome and Exposomics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/exposome/

3. Rappaport, S.M. (2016). Genetic factors are not the major causes of chronic diseases. PLoS One, 11(4), e0154387.

4. Vrijheid, M. (2014). The exposome: a new paradigm to study the impact of environment on health. Thorax, 69(9), 876-878. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-204949.

5. Wild, C.P. (2012). The exposome: from concept to utility. International Journal of Epidemiology, 41, 24–32. doi:10.1093/ije/dyr236

6. Anway, M.D. et al. (2005). Epigenetic transgenerational actions of endocrine disruptors and male fertility. Science, 308(5727), 1466-1469.

7. Dias, B.G., & Ressler, K.J. (2014). Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations. Nature Neuroscience, 17(1), 89-98.

8. Stein, A.D. et al. (2009). Maternal exposure to the Dutch Famine before conception and during pregnancy: quality of life and depressive symptoms in adult offspring. Epidemiology, 20(6), doi:  10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181b5f227.

9. Roseboom, T.J. et al. (2003). Perceived health of adults after prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine. Paediatrics Perinatal Epidemiology, 17, 391–397.

10. Badon, S.E. et al. (2014). Gestational Weight Gain and Neonatal Adiposity in the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome Study-North American Region. Obesity (Silver Spring), 22(7), 1731–1738.

11. Veenendaal, M.V. et al. (2013). Transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to the 1944-45 Dutch famine. BJOG, 120(5), 548-53. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.

12. Yehuda, R., & Bierer, L.M. (2008). Transgenerational transmission of cortisol and PTSD risk. Progress in Brain Research, 167, 121-135.

13. Aviad-Wilcheck, Y. et al. (2013). The effects of the survival characteristics of parent Holocaust survivors on offsprings’ anxiety and depression symptoms. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 50(3), 210-216.

14. Radke, K.M. et al. (2011). Transgenerational impact of intimate partner violence on methylation in the promoter of the glucocorticoid receptor. Translational Psychiatry, 1, e21. doi: 10.1038/tp.2011.21.

15. Cossetti, C. et al. (2014). Soma-to-Germline Transmission of RNA in Mice Xenografted with Human Tumour Cells: Possible Transport by Exosomes. PLoS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0101629.

16. Zomer, A. et al. (2010). Exosomes: Fit to deliver small RNA. Communicative and Integrative Biology, 3(5), 447–450.

17. Balaj, L. et al. (2011) Tumour microvesicles contain retrotransposon elements and amplified oncogene sequences. Natural Communications, 2, 180.

18. Azmi, A.S., Bao, B., & Sarkar, F.H. (2013). Exosomes in cancer development, metastasis, and drug resistance: a comprehensive review. Cancer Metastasis Review, 32, 623-643

19. Poliakov, A. et al. (2009). Structural heterogeneity and protein composition of exosomes-like vesicles (prostasomes) in human semen. Prostate, 69, 159-167.

20. Cheng, R.Y. et al. (2004) Epigenetic and gene expression changes related to transgenerational carcinogenesis. Molecular Carcinogenesis, 40, 1–11.

21. Klosin, A. et al. (2017). Transgenerational transmission of environmental information in C. elegans. Science, 356(6335).

22. Lim, J.P., & Brunet, A. (2013). Bridging the transgenerational gap with epigenetic memory. Trends in Genetics, 29(3), 176-186. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2012.12.008

23. Choi, S.-W., & Friso, S. (2010). Epigenetics: A New Bridge between Nutrition and Health Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 1(1), 8-16. doi:10.3945/an.110.1004.

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Alternative News

Catholic Church Ignores Pedophilia, But Bishop Warns Reiki & Energy Healing Are Satanic

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Catholic Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has said he is establishing a "delivery ministry" that will attempt to rid people of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to demonic influence.

  • Reflect On:

    Can these types of fear-based attempts to retain power over people serve the greater awakening to our innate power and sovereignty?

It is wisely said that, ‘you should clean up your own backyard first before you come running over to fix mine.’ Obviously, this wisdom continues to be lost on the clergy of the Catholic Church.

According to this Irish News article, Catholic Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has said he is establishing a “delivery ministry” of people who will attempt to rid others of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to the possibility of encountering malevolent spirits. He said he had received “several requests” from people to help deal with evil forces.

On the strength of what spellbinding evidence and research does the bishop rest his indictment against reiki healing treatments on? He said he was told by the brother of a reiki master that the man was “working on somebody one day when he actually says he saw a vision of Satan” and was “scared out of his wits, dropped the reiki and went back to the Church”.

Gosh. Did Bishop Cullinan even go so far as to interview the reiki master himself, to verify the authenticity of the report, and perhaps inform himself just a touch more about the philosophy and practice of reiki, before giving it such firm identification with the dark side?

Heavens, no.

 

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“This is something that has to be done in secret because you don’t let these people’s names out, and they are going to houses where people maybe have been involved in some kind of new-age thing or some kind of séance or that kind of thing, and unfortunately, they’ve opened up a door to an evil force, Satan.” Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

Absolving Personal Responsibility

Let’s be clear on what the good bishop is saying here: he is worried about people getting influenced by Satan while engaging in ‘new-age’ healing practices.  (In fact, he misidentifies reiki as a ‘new age’ practice when in fact it was developed in the early 1900’s in Japan by Mikao Usui, who realized that healing energy can be transmitted between human beings via the hands and directed intention and visualization.) Does he say what the consequences might be if people fall deeply enough under Satan’s spell under these conditions? Will they suddenly be tempted to steal an apple from the grocery store? Say a crossword to a neighbor? He doesn’t know. And doesn’t say. And probably hasn’t even thought that far.

No, what it really looks like is that the good bishop would like to stop people who are taking personal responsibility for their own healing, and play the devil card to encourage such people to run back to the Catholic Church where members don’t actually have to take responsibility for their own actions–they can simply believe the devil made them do it. This is a scenario in which the good bishop can feel useful in an advisory capacity because he has the God-given power to absolve participants of their sins with the recitation of a few ‘Hail Mary’s.

Why Not Address In-House Pedophilia?

You would think, if indeed you believe Cullinan is being sincere, that he would not be sticking his nose into something he knows little about, and instead bring his Satan-fighting attention to the actions of his Catholic brethren who are already known to be raping and torturing children. You would think it would be of the highest order to turn his exorcising powers to work on these contemporaries of his, if for nothing else than to try to resurrect the reputation of the Catholic Church which has fallen to unprecedented depths.

But you get the feeling that his attitude falls in line with the Church on the matter of pedophilia in the church. Their inaction seems to indicate that they feel not much can be done about it. It is not a question of personal responsibility, it is a question of demonic possession. In the article, Cullinan said he “absolutely” agreed with Pope Francis’s view that child abuse is caused by Satan. Which means offenders themselves are not to ‘blame’ for their actions. The church’s propensity to take offenders of these violent crimes and simply move them away from one outraged community to continue their criminal activity in another one is a clear sign of this.

The Takeaway

This bishop certainly has gall to act concerned about potential demonic influence coming from modern energy healing practices he knows nothing about. The good news is, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church continues to reveal itself in these feeble attempts to retain power over people, and they could serve as a catalyst for more people who still give themselves over to these institutions to take their power back.

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Consciousness

The Remarkable Brainwaves Of High-Level Meditators

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Expert meditators are constantly producing high range brainwave frequencies, even when they're not meditating. A normal human being rarely hits these brainwave frequencies.

  • Reflect On:

    Meditation could help people of all ages, create more peace in their lives. As it becomes a global collective practice, it will make a big impact on world peace and overall quality of life.

Listen To This Article

Measuring brainwaves while in altered states of consciousness is a fascinating way to see what happens to the brain during these states. It makes me feel that factors associated with consciousness exist separate from the brain, and that the brain is simply a receiver of this non-material input from some unidentified part of ourselves.

When it comes to meditation, scientists have been able to measure the brainwaves of high-level meditators. They found that some meditators are consistently operating in the gamma brainwave range, approximately at 40Hz. I’ve written about the brainwaves of lucid dreamers before, and those studies also show that when someone is lucid dreaming, they are also operating within the gamma brainwave range. This brainwave range is associated with a conscious state of heightened self-awareness, an even more conscious state than when one is awake.

Human beings don’t operate anywhere near these frequencies when we are in our normal wakeful state, and we operate at an even lower frequency during sleep states.

There are delta brainwaves, which are most pronounced in premature babies, then there are theta brainwaves which are characterized by light sleep, REM sleep, dreams and hallucinations.  Alpha brainwaves are an even higher frequency, which are most prominent during relaxation, contemplation and a lack of visual stimuli. These occur when you are not distracted or focused on the external world too much, and their frequency is approximately 8-12 Hz, so you can see why the jump to Gamma brainwaves for meditators is quite significant, which range from 40 – 100 Hz.

These are the fastest brainwave frequencies known to man.

It’s been more than a decade since researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that Zen Buddhist monks show “an extraordinary synchronization of brainwaves known as gamma synchrony – a pattern increasingly associated with robust brain function and the synthesis of activity that we call the mind.”  (Scientific American)

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 Meditation has always been intertwined with “superhuman” abilities. During a visit to remote monasteries in the 1980s, Harvard Professor of Medicine Herbert Benson and his team of researchers studied monks living in the Himalayan Mountains who could, by g Tum-mo (a yoga technique), raise the temperatures of their fingers and toes by as much as 17 degrees. It is still unknown how the monks are able to generate such heat. (source). The researchers also studied advanced meditators in Sikkim, India, where they were astonished to find that these monks could lower their metabolism by 64%. (source)

It’s important to mention that meditation has also shown significant changes in the brain, with an increase in brain matter and in other ways. It’s also shown to be successful for the treatment of multiple ailments, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You can read more about the scientific benefits of meditation in a recent article we published, here.

In the video below, psychologist and science writer Daniel Goleman discusses his work along with his colleague and research colleague, neuroscientist, Richard Davidson. Fascinating stuff.

Expert meditators, as described below in this case, were flown in from all over the world and put in a lab.

Their brainwave, shows gamma very strong all the time as a lasting trait, no matter what they’re doing…it’s not during meditation alone, it’s just their every-day state of mind. We actually have no idea what that means experientially, science has never seen it before. We also find that in these olympic level meditators, when we asked them to do a meditation on compassion, their level of gamma jumps 700/800 percent in seconds. This has also never been seen by science. There is a state of being which is not like ordinary states, sometimes it’s called liberation, or enlightenment. There’s really no vocabulary that captures what that might be.

How To Meditate, What is Meditation?

I’ve always thought that meditation can be multiple things, but at its core involves the non-judgement of the thoughts that arise during the practice. Just let them come, and let them go as is. It also involves multiple states of meditation, as mentioned above, these experts are constantly in that “state of mind.” Many high-level meditators express how this is exactly what meditation is. That being said, sitting down, and meditating with intention and a goal in mind could also be very beneficial.

There could be multiple depths to meditation, and you don’t always have to sit cross-legged and do it a specific way. You can meditate in the shower, while you are on a walk, one person doing laundry could perhaps be in the same state of mind as another who is in a deep meditation, therefore both accomplishing the same experience, at least from a brainwave perspective that is. Just like the video explains above, they’re always in gamma range.

You want to begin by getting in a comfortable position. Take deep breaths, slow them down, and allow whatever comes into your head, to simply exit. That’s the general way start out if you’re just beginning your journey into meditation. The intention behind the meditation can be anything, including to simply experience this other state of consciousness and get closer to “source.”

The Takeaway

Imagine what would happen if 7 billion people on the planet all meditated together for world peace, would it manifest? It’s amazing what we now know about mediation, and what it can do to our biological realty. Perhaps it can do a lot to physical reality as well. These types of findings go to show that our most natural inner state is one of peace. Why else would it be the state that’s most beneficial for our body, and that allows us to operate at a higher capacity?

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