So pleased to report that my new release has an audio book version in production.
Here’s a new trailer to get you excited about the novel and the main character, Serena Mendez.
Pre-order link HERE
“This is sci-fi that uses science like poetry.” ~ 5-star Amazon review
Order link: Classic Sci-Fi
My short story, THE MARUNKOFF EQUATION, made #8 on this ranking of best SFF short reads in 2018 put out by Amazon:
Yeah, I’m pretty blown away!
Writing to Raise Consciousness—Meaning, Method, and Intent
“Writing to Raise Consciousness”–it’s my tagline, my author branding. Since I write both fiction and nonfiction, it might seem challenging to wrap both types of writing into the same package. Eyebrows raise, faces morph into puzzled expressions, and people ask the obvious: “What do you mean? What do you mean when you make a statement saying you want to write in ways that raise consciousness? Please explain…”
Ask ten people to define “consciousness” and you will likely get ten different answers. Even among scholars who study consciousness from scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical perspectives, there is little agreement about what consciousness actually is. Without agreed upon definitional characteristics, how do I attempt to raise or elevate something we are not clear about and may not even be able to measure or quantify at all? It isn’t like raising the temperature of something through a process of heating. It isn’t like inciting a riot with inflammatory rhetoric. Physics and sociology have ways of measuring those processes.
Is this a blind men problem—trying to describe an elephant, each with only a fragmented understanding? Is this some sort of dark matter/dark energy construct—useful in trying to understand something we really do not understand? Am I deluding myself in thinking I can write ‘stuff’ that is going to actually raise consciousness? To complicate matters further, while playing my own Devil’s Advocate, if one believes consciousness is infinite and beyond constructs of space and time, then you cannot raise, elevate, expand, or increase it in any way. X + infinity still = infinity. In some ways, it is a thorny thicket.
Despite these challenges, I do not back down from my intent to raise consciousness through my writing, nor do I move from my belief that I can actually do so. The method to achieve this works at different levels or dimensions. It also hopefully works on both individual and collective consciousness.
The first level is rather simple and straightforward. There is widespread agreement that a relationship exists between consciousness and awareness. Precisely what that relationship is can be difficult to say, but for purposes of this argument, let us simply posit that awareness and consciousness are related. If I write something about a particular social ill such as violence, or racism, or children sex-slaves, and my writing (fiction or nonfiction) calls attention to this social ill, makes people more aware of the problem, I have raised consciousness at this level.
There is a long history of literature calling attention to social injustice. To name a few examples:
There is another type of ‘calling attention to an issue’ that goes beyond social ills. Authors often write about potential problems that might occur in order to raise awareness, to get readers to think about a particular issue. What if artificial intelligence got out of control as in Terminator? What would an Orwellian 1984 future of government control and propaganda be like? These topics are often explored in speculative fiction. Robert Heinlein, one of my favorite science fiction authors, often addresses social themes in his writing. In many ways, his writing helps to raise consciousness at this first level. My science fiction novel, Sentient, calls attention to certain social themes. Isolation/separation and how this contributes to competition over cooperation, how we treat people with mental illness, and acculturation to violence are just a few of the issues I touch upon. In my nonfiction book, Pathways to Health, I am asking readers to think about health in a different way, to recognize the distortions and limitations that characterize our beliefs about our own health and how we can achieve better health.
What underlies this first-level approach to raising consciousness is to call attention, to get the reader to notice or to think about something in an introspective way. The process is one of raising awareness so as to effect change. The change may be in a belief, an action or behavior of some sort. This touches upon the second-level, i.e. evolution. I’ll loosely go with a broad definition of evolution as the gradual development of something. The key piece here is “development”–something that occurs as change over time. In this sense, writing to raise consciousness represents an effort to support and promote the evolution of consciousness both on an individual and collective level.
This type of development follows a sequence, much the same as a child first learns to crawl, then walk, then run. This represents increasing motor skill and developmental maturity. On a psychological level, the ego develops along a sequence of self-centered ‘me’ to expanding awareness of others–family, nation, the world, the universe. This is a natural progression of awareness and an evolution of consciousness. This change is accompanied by new ways of thinking, believing, and behaving.
A similar developmental sequence occurs as part of spiritual growth and maturation. Some teachings explain this spiritual evolution as following a path toward enlightenment. I am particularly fond of Integral Theory and how it characterizes the different stages of growth and development along a psycho-spiritual evolution (outward) and involution (inward) path. I am also fond of David Hawkins’ Map of Human Consciousness that delineates characteristic thoughts, beliefs, and actions accompanying each developmental stage of the evolution of consciousness. When I write, sometimes I intend to raise consciousness by getting readers to think differently, to challenge beliefs, to expand and grow in their consciousness. In some ways this represents personal growth and transformation toward a higher level of consciousness. I have often had this experience myself when reading the wisdom of a variety of spiritual teachers. Some of the chapters in my book, Health Wise—Integral Lessons in Transformation, are specifically targeted towards raising consciousness at this second level.
I’ll touch upon the third level more briefly. I also write with the intention of raising consciousness in a much more indigenous way. My explanation thus far has focused on raising awareness and consciousness at the individual level and more broadly at the collective level of society. I also believe that there is a planetary aspect to consciousness that also follows a developmental or evolutionary sequence. The term, “Noosphere” was first coined by Teilhard de Chardin. Basically, you can think of this as not only our species’, but the entire planet’s collective consciousness. Such consciousness exists as part of an entire cosmic consciousness. Our planet’s noosphere is evolving towards an expanded capacity as part of the natural evolution of planetary consciousness. This theory/belief is expounded upon in some detail by José Argüelles in his book, Manifesto for the Noosphere.
Many have written about the great shift in consciousness occurring during these times. Rather than writing about this shift or about the noosphere, I am writing with the specific desire of facilitating the shift to occur, to making my small contribution toward the evolution of our planetary consciousness. My individual consciousness, my thoughts and behaviors, and specifically my writing are all generally intended towards promoting the expansion of the noosphere. In my book, Sentient, when I am writing about telepathy and collective consciousness, these are processes associated with the noosphere. Yet, whether or not anyone reads anything that I have written, anything that I do, write, or even think potentially influences the collective planetary consciousness at this third level.
Complicated…straightforward…perfectly muddy? I don’t expect the typical reader to really understand what I mean by, “Writing to Raise Consciousness”. In some ways, it doesn’t matter if a reader understands my intent, my goal. What matters to me is whether or not something I have written has the intended outcome. Does it work? Am I successful in achieving my goal? I don’t know for sure, but if you are at least thinking about these things, feeling a bit introspective, wondering about your own consciousness or the greater collective consciousness, then perhaps I have had some small success. I think of this effort applied in three different dimensions at which I can potentially raise consciousness. In some small way, I hope what I have written has been instrumental in raising your consciousness…
My answer to this is that the term has several layers of meaning. I have not come across these layers parsed out in a cogent way, but I have spent considerable time in arriving at an answer that captures the various dimensions of meaning as I understand them.
Catherine Collautt, Ph.D. explains her work as a metaphysician thusly: “A metaphysician is a doctor/healer who makes changes in the physical world through metaphysical (i.e. decidedly not ‘physical’) principles. As a metaphysician, I work the principles of mind (and beyond) to create powerful and lasting change in peoples’ lives…I am a practicing philosopher and healer, a metaphysician in both senses of the word.”
Her explanation provides a good starting point to explore this topic further.
Wikipedia cites Metaphysics as a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. From this philosophical perspective, a person who studies metaphysics is called a metaphysicist or a metaphysician. This is straightforward and in philosophical terms pertains to the study of first principles, the fundamental principles underlying everything, i.e. the ultimate nature of the universe.
The Spiritual Arts Institute has a somewhat different definition:
Metaphysics, which literally means “that which comes after the physical,” is the study of the spiritual root of physical life. In this way, metaphysics shares similar goals with other noble studies such as general spirituality, theology, philosophy, mysticism, theosophy, and ontology. This sacred undertaking follows a global tradition that goes back to time immemorial and is making a strong resurgence in modern times.
To the metaphysician, we are immortal souls, seeds of the divine who are created and sustained in love by God. This is our true nature. It is our soul that gives us our life and our consciousness. To achieve its full power and splendor, each soul must go through the process of spiritual evolution, gradually maturing into a fully developed, divine being. (http://spiritualarts.org/about-us/what-is-metaphysics/)
The prefix “meta” is Greek in origin (μετά-) and means “after” or “beyond.” In this sense and applying this prefix to levels of meaning suggests something beyond a traditional physician. Used in this manner, a metaphysician would have a degree of understanding, training, and/or thinking that is higher, or in some way outside the boundaries of what is typically associated with being a physician.
Merriam-Webster defines “physician” as, “a skilled health-care professional trained and licensed to practice medicine.” In my own case, I am an internist, trained in Allopathic or typical Western medicine. My practical application in using the term” metaphysician” medically, captures my ongoing quest to understand the fundamental principles of health and healing across many different traditions, healing arts, and modalities. Western medicine approaches incorporate a valid, yet biased methodology to health, wellness, and healing. I have studied a variety of other approaches and see value and truth in many non-Western modalities. In this sense, I have gone beyond my traditional training.
Integral Theory has itself been referred to as a meta-theory, i.e. a theory about theories. A fundamental principle of integral approaches is that they transcend and include other philosophical and theoretical approaches into a higher order system. The German philosopher Hegel described a dialectic of opposing ideas as a thesis and an antithesis. Integral represents the synthesis of these opposing ideologies into a unified coherent framework representing a higher order of understanding.
Scientific and spiritual explanations about the nature of the universe represent a dialectic and are frequently viewed as irreconcilable approaches. Both are subsumed in an Integral framework that transcends and includes the truths inherent in both scientific and spiritual ideas and beliefs about life, the universe, etc. In this sense, an “Integralist,” such as myself, would also be a metaphysician.
I feel a sense of fellowship with Dr. Collaut in both her description and application of what it means to be a metaphysician. But for me, it goes beyond the philosophical and medical aspects she describes. There is a certain hubris in my being a self-proclaimed metaphysician; however, I use the term with humility. The term, as I have described it, rather elegantly incorporates some of what I have come to understand about myself. In this brief post, I have tried to capture the many levels of meaning that resonate for me and delineate several dimensions simultaneously encompassed in the term, “metaphysician.
The Phantom Creeps (1939)
Friends, family, and people who know me recognize that I am concerned about what is happening in our world. On my Amazon author bio page it states, “…strives to do his part to make our planet a wee bit better.” Writing a self-help book to help readers chart a course to better health seems consistent with doing my part to help make the planet incrementally better. But how does one do that in the context of a science fiction novel? More specifically, what does it mean to write a sci-fi story with an underlying intention of raising consciousness?
Calling attention to social issues is a mainstay of literature. Name any particular social ill and there are probably dozens of books exploring the issue in order to raise awareness. Examples abound but here are a few:
I did not focus on science fiction in the list above other than mentioning George Orwell’s 1984. The dystopian future and apocalyptic sub-genres often expose or somehow incorporate social messaging in their plots. Robot stories, and in particular those dealing with artificial intelligence, might call attention to the dangers of sentient AI. Erewhon, published way back in 1872, had three chapters titled, “The Book of the Machines”, in which Samuel Butler raised the issue of mechanical consciousness. Fast forward to today where movies such as Terminator raise the specter of AI dominance. Genetic engineering is another area explored as a social theme. Brave New World comes to mind. Examples in many of the other sci-fi sub-genres are plentiful.
I intentionally used a movie as one of my examples above. Often movies follow as book adaptations. One particular recent standout movie about corporate greed exploiting the mineral wealth of another planet in disregard to the technologically inferior indigenous species came as a movie first. Here I am talking about Avatar, a movie calling attention to these and other issues such as militarism and imperialism along with social justice.
This post is not meant to give a comprehensive overview of socially conscious science fiction in film and literature. I simply want to get you thinking about how these art forms incorporate social themes. Lets not lose sight of the fact that lots of great science fiction books and films do not include social messaging. Nothing against pure unmitigated entertainment, but I want my writing to convey something more. In this regard, I am trying to emulate one of the best sci-fi authors of all time, a man referred to as the “dean of science fiction writers”. Here I am referring to Robert Heinlein (of course); I dedicated Sentient to him in memoriam. The Wikipedia reference states:
Within the framework of his science-fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices.
What social themes am I raising in the novel Sentient? Isolation/separation and how this contributes to competition over cooperation, how we treat people with mental illness, and individualism vs. collectivism are just a few of the issues I touch upon. You would have to read the book or who knows, watch the movie someday (hey, a man can dream, right?) to get the complete gamut of social issues I am trying to raise awareness about. All of these enmesh in telling an engaging and thought provoking story. One of my beta readers said it all with the simple comment, “Great story! Somehow, I feel as though reading it has raised my consciousness.” Bullseye!
Enjoy this clip. What social issues does watching it call to mind?
My first book has been translated into Danish and foreign distribution rights with St. Paul’s Better Yourself Books have been negotiated for India, Pakistan, the entire Indian subcontinent, and Nigeria. Worldwide the Integral approach to health is gaining acceptance. I had the distinct privilege to be invited by the ID Academy to speak in Denmark and give a series of workshops on Personal Growth and Transformation, the Life Skills Learning Series–Journey to Self-Transformation. Learn more about this course here: http://pathstohealth.info/appearancesworkshops/. Denmark is a great country and the people at the ID Academy are a wonderful group. Learn more about them and the fantastic offerings here: http://idacademy.dk/
English language version is available as an ebook and print version here: https://www.amazon.com/Pathways-Health-M-D-Victor-Acquista/dp/1935204947/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
It is sometimes curious what provides inspiration for thoughts, musings, and instruction about life. We have all seen tropical fish in a tank. It might be as simple as a single goldfish in a bowl or something much more elaborate. Who among us has not wondered, at least momentarily, what living in such a confined space must be like? It seems a bit painful to watch a goldfish swimming around the confines of his/her world, looking out through the glass at a world he/she cannot enter. Is it so very different for us as we bump up against the barriers and boundaries that confine us and restrict us?
I have wondered from time to time, what thoughts and feelings might be swimming in the mind of the fish. Does it feel fear about the unknown which lies beyond? Or does it feel safe within the contained world that it knows? Does it feel anger about limitations that it cannot control or influence? Or acceptance in understanding that external control is an illusion after all?
At times, I contemplated moving fish to a bigger and more spacious tank. Surely it would be wonderful to move from a large bowl to a five gallon tank. Even better might be to go from five to ten gallons, or twenty-five, or fifty gallons. Why, that seems almost palatial! Yet, is it still not confining? Do the fish still not swim up to the glass and look outward? Are they truly less confined? Or are they simply living in a larger box of sorts, but a box none-the-less.
The answer seems to be that freedom comes from transferring the fish into a pond or a lake or a stream. But all of these are limited by banks, and shores, and cubic meters of water. None of these are unbounded. As a result, the freedom which seems present in such a large expanse for such a small fish is really just an illusion of freedom. The boundaries of even a very large box are still boundaries. How then can we be free?
True freedom comes with the recognition that it is not the external world but our internal world that limits us. Our imaginations represent an infinite wellspring of possibility, of potential, of creativity. We can go anywhere, do anything, be everywhere and nowhere, anytime, all the time without boundaries or restrictions using the power of our imagination. There are no limitations of time or space when we realize this. We are truly free and without limitation in this internal universe of possibility.
The boundaries and limitations both internal and external are indeed illusions. I like to imagine that the goldfish, swimming in the narrow confines of his/her bowl, knows this. I like to think that the goldfish is not bothered at all by the illusion of restriction, but does swim secure in the absolute certainty that it lives in unity with the infinite.