The ‘Black Death’ or bubonic plague, as it was known – based on the boils or ‘buboes’ that formed and spread in the lymph nodes of its victims – devastated the continent of Europe and the Middle East from 1347 to around 1353, after it equally terrorised China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt earlier in the 1340’s (1).
It was notorious for its rapid spread and vile characteristics that ranged from blood and pus-filled boils that seeped and covered the body, to fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhoea, terrible aches and pains – usually followed in short order by death, sometimes even overnight after the victim went to bed feeling fine. The Black Death was caused by a bacillus (bacteria) called Yersina pestis that was spread through the air and via the bite of a flea or rats that harboured the disease, wiping out about 60% of the European population (over 50 million deaths) and over 100 million world-wide (1).
Now, after reading the above description, you may be thinking “Phew, what a relief, thank God we don’t have to deal with anything like the Black Death anymore,” or, “Glad THAT’S over with!!!” But herein lies the point of this piece, and that is that even though it may appear that through modern medical and health practices we don’t have anything that compares to the ferocity of the Black Death (even the Ebola virus doesn’t even come close at 11,310 total deaths globally attributed to this disease (2)), there is a modern plague that has spread around the globe with equal tenacity and fervour. We could refer to this disease as ‘Smart’ Phone Zombie Syndrome and perhaps the energy that seeds the idea to create a video game called ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ is the one and the same energy that is turning us into so-called zombies walking the streets running into telephone poles while on our cell phones!
So, if 42.5% of the current world’s population have cellular connection via a smart phone (remembering the figure for connection via mobile devices is even higher at over 5 billion people and representing over 65% of the world’s population (3)!) and can talk to a friend on the other side of the planet with the push of a button, wouldn’t you think that we as a humanity would feel, you know… more connected?
But from my observations, and I’m sure the majority of the readers here would agree, this has indeed not been the case since the inception of the smart phone and other digital devices. Instead, I have noticed a rampant increase in people walking around as if their ‘smart’ phones were super-glued to their hands and with their heads and upper body hunched over staring at the screens as if in a trance-like state. Go to any employer’s lunch room and you will be hard-pressed to see an individual eating without watching or being consumed by some random internet entertainment like the latest funny animal videos or some random insane stunt that someone pulled off, which only seem to get more and more radical every day. Is it not crazy enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane wearing a ‘wingsuit’ and glide precariously close to trees and rock-strewn mountainsides before opening your parachute at the very last second? Apparently not, as one can always find something more extreme with their ‘zombie-inducing device’ (aka cell phone).
It’s as if we are all looking for something – connection – but have gone astray in the attempt to find it and instead have inserted cell phones as the surrogate substitute. But when two people who are on a first date at a restaurant barely say two words to each other during their meal and instead have their noses in their phones or are not even really listening to each other when their date is speaking because they are busy texting some other person, we need to get honest about what kind of connection we are really fostering here.
Even the extreme act of the ‘wingsuit’ jumper can be interpreted as an attempt to gain connection with others via the attention and recognition that he or she may gain from performing such a dangerous stunt and pulling it off (or not, as some people are satisfied with a posthumous form of fame as well). I’ve also noticed how parents have used cell phones and iPads as ‘babysitters’ or given them to their very young children in the grocery store as a distraction when in fact I recall as a child riding in the shopping cart and looking all around in the store to be quite stimulating. Of course, one could also extrapolate this phenomenon to the ever-increasing video game addictions that are now at a global epidemic level as well.
What force is driving us to behave in these ways when we know deep down that it is not our true way? No one in their heart can say that it is normal or healthy to play an online video game all night on their phone that involves trying to brutally shoot and kill another person who is actually their friend living in another country playing on their own phone. Yet it is as if we are using these methods of ‘entertainment’ to distract ourselves from some form of inner unsettlement because we have bought into a system of living that is based on individualism, standing out, beating another, competition, gaining recognition or acceptance from an external source. And the pain that we feel inside, knowing deep down that this goes against our truly divine, interconnected nature that holds all in its universal love is too much to bear, hence the need for outer forms of entertainment and mental distraction to keep us, if but for only a moment, from feeling how we have deviated from a form of connection to our inner hearts, and thus, to God.
Now, to be clear, I have no intention here of vilifying all electronic devices in any way, for they all can be used in a way to keep us connected globally and for great service. In addition and with full disclosure, I have certainly fallen for the lure of the infinite amount of entertainment and thus distraction that cell phones and computers provide, and at times find myself way down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos that I may have justified as being work related but in truth were being used to check out from feeling something else that was going on in my life, as in after a difficult situation with a family member or co-worker, or feeling guilty about indulging in something I knew was not supportive of me. However, when I have used my phone in this manner, it has always left me feeling exhausted and icky inside, and definitely not ‘connected’. It’s almost like we use our cell phones as our ‘security blankets’ wherever we go, and they ironically become our ‘go-to’ method of avoiding the very connection that we so deeply crave.
With the aforementioned in mind, we can all take a step backwards and begin to observe what may have been the underlying emotional reason for our choice to use these electronic devices… to avoid the form of connection with each other that we know has been inside and in front of us all along. Imagine that same date night described above, but this time each person is actually looking deeply into the other’s eyes, feeling their Soul and all that it shines forth, and appreciating how much we are all equally amazing beings with so much to offer the world. How could any text or YouTube video compare to this level of divine connection, if one so chooses it?
This blog was inspired by a wise observation made by my daughter comparing the Plague of the Middle Ages and modern illness and disease.
The compound CBD (Cannabidiol) is derived from the marijuana or hemp plant and is currently the newest rage and being touted as the latest ‘cure-all’ in the health and wellbeing industry. The claims made by its proponents cover a broad spectrum of supposed benefits, ranging from a reversal of depression, halting of psychosis and healing PTSD to curing cancer. (1)
In fact, here is a more comprehensive list of claimed benefits now coming from the myriad of companies that are touting CBD as a multi-pronged solution for literally dozens of mental, emotional and physical ailments, including the abilities to: slow Parkinson’s disease, curb anger, prevent anxiety, relieve menstrual cramps, lessen arthritis pain, treat Crohn’s disease, lower blood sugar, rejuvenate skin, heal brain injury, cure insomnia, speed recovery from workouts, calm dogs and stop epilepsy.
Of that entire list, only the limiting of seizures as experienced by people with two rare forms of epilepsy has been medically proven to be somewhat alleviated with the use of CBD oil. (2)
CBD oil is being marketed and sold inside products as far ranging as hamburgers and shampoo to gummy bears in a way to capitalize on a form of created ‘normalcy’ by the companies selling these products, when in fact there are many questions about its legality and efficacy.
Although I feel that it’s everyone’s choice as to what products they use to support the health and wellness of their bodies, the current groundswell of companies and distributors popping up at almost every street corner selling CBD in a way that promises the consumer that it can cure such vastly different illnesses and diseases without any scientific evidence or even FDA approval and oversight is at the very least alarming and is taking advantage of people’s medical needs in a deceiving way, capitalising on this with massive financial gains at their customers’ expense, whether it works for them or not.
“CBD is being produced without any regulation, resulting in products that vary widely in quality”, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It really is the Wild West,” Bonn-Miller said. “Joe Bob who starts up a CBD company could say whatever the hell he wants on a label and sell it to people.” (2)
The method by which CBD affects our body’s internal mechanisms is via what is known as the Endocannabinoid System, which is a complex cell-signalling system that is responsible for maintaining a state of homeostasis within the body by producing endogenous cannabinoids (AEA & 2AG) that are molecules which attach to endocannabinoid receptors found in the central nervous system (CB1) and the peripheral nervous system (CB2) within the immune system and on various organs like the kidneys and liver, thus modulating their function in various ways not fully understood by science. After the endocannabinoids AEA & 2AG carry out their functions they are broken down by two different enzymes produced by the body. (3)
The physiological effects of this natural system found within the human body are quite vast and include those that control and modulate chronic pain, stress, sleep, emotional moods, learning, memory, metabolism, inflammation/immune system, the cardiovascular system, liver and kidney function, appetite, skin & nerve function, reproduction/fertility, bone growth and motor control. (3)
By now the above extensive list of innate benefits of the body’s harmonious endocannabinoid system may appear very familiar to you, as it mirrors those claimed by the advocates of CBD oil as listed in the first segment of this piece. Even though CBD oil, (which, by the way, still contains at the very least trace amounts of the psychoactive drug Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and without proper FDA oversight cannot be truly determined or controlled), can be received by the body through its own natural receptors to produce its effects on various physiological systems, it does not mean that it is safe or required for our health and wellbeing. We have opioid receptors for heroin, but does that mean we should inject it into our veins to help with chronic pain and stress, or to help us go to sleep? Obviously not.
There is evidence to suggest that the scientific and medical field has a tendency to extrapolate meanings and connections based on theories of what they want to be true without necessarily confirming anything with repeatable evidence, all in the name of funding, profit and prestige. (4)
For instance, even calling this system of homeostatic control the ‘Endocannabinoid System’ just because it contains receptors for cannabinoid containing compounds like THC can then cause a situation where people more easily justify smoking marijuana, even though it clearly causes a disharmony in the body and mind, taking us away from any true state of homeostasis that the body’s natural systems maintain. This pseudo-science then paves the way for other fad products like CBD oil to be seen as the next ‘saviour’ for our current state of poor health and wellbeing.
The current market environment selling CBD oil is a literal free-for-all, with a lot of companies making huge profits while seemingly taking advantage of people’s desperation to feel better in their lives. The rates of illness, disease and unsettlement continually rise within a society that does not appear to want to deal with the underlying causes of these physical, mental and emotional issues, but instead would prefer the ‘quick fix’ or cure rather than do the work to truly create a lasting healing, perhaps because this would require a level of honesty that would expose their lack of responsibility for not taking care and loving themselves enough to avoid these issues in the first place.
Perhaps the fact that our bodies already have a perfectly good system in place (the Endocannabinoid System) to control and maintain a homeostatic state of wellbeing is showing us that we have let ourselves be fooled by the appearance of yet another ‘snake oil’, this time called CBD, which only distracts us from what is needed for true healing, a trust and connection with the body that will show us not only how we have been treating it, but how to proceed forth when we reconnect to a more honest and self-loving way that does not look outside of it any more for answers or temporary fixes, but looks deep within to the cause of our problems and the source of our healing.
Society tends to hold a position that only those with the kinds of academic credentials that include the letters PhD are worthy of listening to when it comes to investigating and explaining Life and the Universe we live in.
But what if all we truly needed to gain a better understanding of ourselves, others and the world we live in was to simply nurture that innate curiosity we engendered as a child, and begin to use the interrogative word WHY to bring a deeper understanding to the true nature of our reality?
All too often we are content to assume that all the discontentment, struggle, ill-ness and turmoil we see around us can be explained away with flippant comments such as “that’s just the way it is” . . . when in fact, everything happens because something has made it so, and we could instead be asking the deeper questions of why these things are still so prevalent in our society when we claim that we are an advanced and intelligent civilisation.
Ever since I was a young boy, and continuing to this day, I have been fascinated with why things are the way they are and have been very much determined to go deeper than the typical explanation given to me, whether it was from teachers, parents, friends or adults. Now this tendency is very common with young children, as they search to understand the world they have entered, and they know straight away when they are given an answer that is meant to actually avoid a more profound or philosophical exploration. It’s usually only later on, after a pattern of either dismissal or unwillingness to ‘go there’ by the adults around them, that they resign themselves to drop their wonderment of the world and join the ranks of those who concede that they were probably wrong to question things using the powerful ‘why’, and that this is just the way the world will always be, so why ask why?
This approach feels to me to be one of almost ‘putting one’s head in the sand’ like an ostrich, not wanting to ask the big questions that might unravel the massive knot that is our current disconnected and dis-eased world, as if by hiding or ignoring the situation it will all magically go away. We then tend to go into all kinds of self-negating behaviours (such as overeating, drug/ alcohol abuse and using other stimulants) to suppress and numb the feeling of letting go of what we know to be the Truth all along.
A great example of this unfolded when I ended up getting into a playful philosophical conversation with a wise little boy at a friend’s wedding reception years ago, in which he would ask me various questions about things like, “Why can’t we see air, but we can feel it?” to which I would give my best scientific explanation, only to be immediately followed up with another “But WHY?” This went on and on for some time, as we traversed the inner world of wonderment that flowed so effortlessly from this beautiful child, and after many strings of ‘answers’ that I gave him, we inevitably came to a point at which the only reply that I could come up with was ‘Well, geez, actually I don’t know why, it just is, I guess.’
I walked away from this enlightening encounter with a greater appreciation of both this boy’s and my own natural curiosity and willingness to gain a deeper understanding for the foundation of natural phenomena and human behaviour. This interaction left a lasting impression on me, in that it not only spurred on my own inquisitive way of being, but also reminded me that there comes a point in our questions of life where we reach a limit on our current state of awareness and have to come to terms with the answer being taken care of by a Divine power that is providing the order and coordinating the outplay that we see before us on Earth and beyond.
Now, has this realisation stopped me from continuing to ask the many ‘Why?’ questions of life? … Nope! Because I feel that by continuing to ask the big questions about the causes of why things are the way they are in the world, it opens up the space and opportunity to reach the next level of understanding that is there for all of us to be aware of, and to gain the insight into why we make the choices that we do. There is a ‘call and response’ relationship that develops from this approach, where we are provided with the next marker of evolutionary awareness from our Soul/God when we are ready and willing to ask for and accept the truths that are there to step into and live by.
So there is a real irony to explore here, in that the very sought after initials PhD, which denote a certain level of mastery in one’s scientific field of expertise, actually stand for Doctorate in Philosophy, yet somehow we have let go of the philosophical component that delves into the why aspect of Life, in favour of focussing on identifying the mechanisms or what conditions are out there in the physically observable Universe and how do they relate to each other, which is the foundation for modern science.
At a 2005 scientific conference at City College of New York, a student in the audience rose to ask the panellists an unexpected question: “Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?” Reaction from one of the panellists – all Nobel laureates – was quick and sharp. “No!” declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals. “Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science”, Dr. Hauptman declared, “this kind of belief is damaging to the wellbeing of the human race.”
This statement highlights for me the way that science and scientists ‘lose the forest for the trees’ by focussing so much on dissecting the world into little pieces and zooming in on them in a myopic way that limits their ability to see that what they were really observing all along was the expression and body of God.
An alternative view to the previous example – and one that I find very pertinent to the subject and value of asking ‘Why?’ in life – is one from UK science writer and editor of the science journal Nature, Philip Ball, where he is commenting on how quantum physicists have shown that the manner of observing an experiment seems to have a physical influence on the results or outcomes and states that:
Now that is quite fascinating; that perhaps the very act of asking certain particular questions opens up a door of awareness that was previously unavailable to us, as has been inferred in quantum mechanical experiments.
Another thing to consider here is that when people go about their lives believing that everything that occurs in the Universe is subject to some completely random and meaningless arrangement of particles and people, they can then dismiss the value in adopting a deeper inquiry into why things manifest themselves, and this may even lead to giving up on life in general. Because if we feel that all that we see is the result of a disorderly combination of energies, then how can we feel empowered to take responsibility for all our actions, or even feel the purpose of taking any action at all, if disorder could easily follow without any reason?
But this is most certainly NOT the way our Universe and our life on Earth operates, for how could it possibly all be a result of a haphazard combination of things when we see so many examples of a consistent Divine expression in Nature, from the Fibonacci spirals of a nautilus shell to the exact same geometric ratios being observed in magnificent spiral galaxies. Everything, yes, everything that we see and experience has happened for a reason because something has made it happen, and is a result of either Love being its foundation, which will bring an order and harmony to the situation, or the lack of Love, which will inevitably have disorder, disharmony, complication and emotion being its inherent outplay. When we see life in this way, everything in life becomes a reflection, showing us what is and what is not Love.
Once we accept that there is indeed a Divine Order and meaning to all that is expressed for us to learn and evolve by in Life, it benefits us all to begin to ask the deeper ‘Why?’ questions so we can not only get to the bottom of what energy impulses our choices – Love or not-love – but also begin to grasp the vast Grandness that we all come from when we reach that gorgeous point of wonderment at not having the answers right now, knowing in our hearts that they are held in God’s hands for us to one day hold in our own.