Bill Douglas: What is the Meaning of Life?

billmeaningoflifeIn a word, “Love.”

When you look at the science of the mind and body, at social science, economics, chaos mathematics and quantum physics, you begin to realize why the prophets of all the major religions focused on two things: 1) The state of our consciousness, and 2) compassion.

I detail this in my new book “The Tao of Tai Chi: The Making of a New Science,” and my soon to be released book, “The Gospel of Science.” But what you find when looking at cutting edge science that is beginning to see deep within human consciousness (and brain function) and deep within the quantum field that makes up all existence, is that the prophets of old were not airy-fairy poets, they were high scientists, trying to offer us simple solutions to our complex challenges.

The foundation of human existence is our DNA, and within our DNA structure is what is being called an “empathy gene.” Science is finding that when humans behave in altruistic ways that benefit others, our DNA reacts with “more healthful function.” While hedonistic selfish pleasures diminish the function of our DNA, translating into a less robust immune function, etc.

Why is that? It is because we are part of a “web of life,” connected to everyone and everything. This is not Eastern mystical meandering, this is hard science. Physicists discovered something called “nonlocality,” finding that when a particle is affected, a particle great distances away reacted precisely at the same moment. The only explanation for this is that all things are connected. Einstein called this “the spooky effect.” Einstein also told us emphatically that it is a delusion that we are separate beings, and that in reality we are connected to everything, everyone.

I suffered a series of tragedies as a young man that almost destroyed me, but in desperate desolation I prayed, “Please, show me why I am here.” That night an angel came to me and gave me an “experience” that changed everything for me forever. The angel left me with lessons or messages, and also planted a poem in my mind that I scrawled on paper, explaining to me why it had come to me, the angel’s purpose, and why we are here on this planet. I was like a secretary or stenographer writing what the angel told me, here it is:

I have come to heal this world.
To show men what they already know.
To make the obvious apparent,
and drive “common sense” home,
until the anvil of consciousness shatters
beneath the hammer of that sense.
And from that shattered anvil,
a simple steely truth shall be forged,
that when one of us suffers,
so do we all.

When that angel appeared to me as a young man in the middle of the night, it touched the center of my mind, and then the center of my heart, and they began to expand as a brilliant illuminating radiance. I expanded with it, and I became that light, expanding through the walls and ceiling of my house, out toward the tree tops and sky. I saw California and North America shrink behind me, and the moon off to my right, huge and nearby.

In those moments I could feel the heartbreak and love and hopes and dreams of 100s, 1000s, millions of people all over the planet, and it was beautiful and heartbreaking, and I knew in that moment that we were “all the same.” We shared a common mind, common loves, hopes, dreams, fears, and heartbreak. From that day forward I was deaf to national boundaries and war propaganda, and divisive religious intolerance, and all the things of man that divide us. I think this is why I was eventually able to envision and then organize 2 world events held in over 80 nations worldwide each year, that work to expand the use of mind-body meditative practices all over the planet as rapidly as possible.

The new science of neuroplasticity is discovering that by “going within,” using meditation, we literally physically change our brain structure and function. Meditators have been found to increase brain size and to physically increase the size of the “empathy/compassion” part of the brain, while shrinking the stress fear part of the brain. The Dalai Lama said that if we taught all school children to meditate, violence would be a thing of the past in a few short years, and the science bears his vision out.

The goal of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, and World Healing Day, is to get secular science based meditative practices into public schools worldwide as rapidly as possible, taught in age appropriate ways from Kindergarten through University. In 18 years we would have an entire generation of mind-body and meditation masters walking the planet. Crime would drop, wars would whither from dehydration, no longer having malice and hate and fear to feed them.

According to economic science, this would also end poverty and hunger. When you look at macroeconomics what you find is that fairness and justice and compassion are the keys to a robust economy. When greed is out of control and wealth disparity is at its highest, like before the Great Depression, and in 2007, the economy is unstable and untenable. But, at times when wealth is more evenly distributed economies are strong and stable and robust. The increase in size of the empathy/compassion parts of the brain that meditation causes, when practiced by students worldwide, would only be part of why our global economy would change. Other neuroplasticity neuroscience research is showing that not only does meditation increase the empathy/compassion part of the brain, but when meditators are shown images of other humans in distress, the “action” part of their brain fires up, meaning that they are “itching to go to the aid of those in distress.”

Today, the planet tolerates mass hunger, mass homelessness, and even mass starvation. After 18 years of public education worldwide teaching meditation, this will no longer be tolerated. The new generation will find that “intolerable,” unable to just let it happen.

Now, on top of that scientific reality, there is another key factor that makes the end of global starvation a given once we accomplish the very attainable task of integrating mediation into public education worldwide. That reality is basic economics. In my role as a global health education event organizer I have been steeped in cutting edge medical science as well as the more specific neuroplasticity-neuroscience. In fact, I have taught Tai Chi and Meditation in many of the world’s largest medical institutions, and worked with medical science institutions worldwide to expand meditative practices. What I have learned is that almost all illness sending people to doctors in most of the world is “stress.”

Dr. Herbert Benson, whose Harvard research on meditation, culiminating in his famed book “The Relaxation Response,” says that between 60 to 90% of all illness sending people to physicians is “caused by stress.” He is not alone. Kaiser Permenente did a 20 year study finding that, according to Dr. David Sobel at Kaiser who I interviewed after their report released, between 70 to 85% of illness sending people to the doctors were caused by stress. Not “aggravated” by stress, but “caused” by stress.

This is a massive finding. The world spends trillions of dollars each year on health care spending. By integrating mind-body meditative practices like Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga, meditative techniques and mindfulness into public education worldwide, which would cost peanuts compared to the savings it would reap, would translate into trillions of dollars of savings. Not just once, but year after year after year.

To put this in perspective. It would only take $30 billion per year to end world starvation. $30 billion is a few pennies of the trillions in annual savings we would attain.

Neurological and other scientific research is finding that meditation can increase mental acuity, creativity, and even intelligence. What would our planet look like if in 18 years we had an entire generation of graduating students who have larger empathy/compassion parts of their brain; and are more intelligent and creative? And the “action” parts of their brain become hyper-stimulated when the see suffering?

We are talking about global transformation, an evolutionary leap that would be unequaled in human history, and a time of peace and creation, and an economic boom that would dwarf any in history. The renaissance, the industrial revolution, the technological revolution, would seem like almost unmemorable moments when compared to what we are at the cusp of witnessing.

So you see, the prophets of old were not naïve dreamers, there were high scientists, trying to tell us how to create the land of milk and honey.

The cynics will say this is a pipedream, but they are wrong. They will say the world is dangerous and there is no time to waste bracing for the worst, and arming ourselves to the teeth, because the world is a dangerous place and we should all prepare for a zombie apocalypse, or something akin to that.

I bring you good news brothers and sisters. The world is less violent than at any time in human history. Yes, you read that correctly. Here is why it seems to be a ridiculous statement to you, if it did. Because your image of the world is formed by mass media. Mass media cameras rush to, and focus on, the most despicable acts on the planet. You are given a distorted picture of reality, and it has an effect on you.

A good friend of mine, who I have had beautiful hopeful conversations with for years, a profoundly intelligent man, started binging on the Walking Dead series. A couple of weeks later, when we had dinner, he had a very dismal image of humanity’s future. He was convinced that at their core, human beings were viscous and if something went wrong in the world or economy that the public would turn into savages, willing to cut their neighbors’ throats to survive. He didn’t consciously connect this to his total TV immersion in the Walking Dead series. But, after his binge watching of a TV series that showed an ugly violent cruel face of humanity (fiction) all the conversations of actual facts of the planet becoming less violent … erased from his mind … poof.

Mass media stews the public in images of fear and division, when in reality, humans are working together, and are far less violent than at any time in human history. Dr. Steven Pinker, a Harvard social psychologists recently released book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” makes an air-tight historical, heavily researched and cited, case that this is true. Also, just google dropping violent crime rates, and you’ll see FBI and UN statistics showing that this trend is escalating. Counter to what TV news addicts believe, violent crime has reached a 40 year low in the U.S. in recent years.

No one know why this is happening. But it is. And on top of this, because of the modern stress epidemic, mind-body meditative practices are being spread all across the planet as health therapies, which will escalate this goodwill across the planet.

I have sponsored projects and/or presented for prison meditation programs from Texas to Australia. Years ago I was invited to present a Tai Chi Meditation program at Folsom Maximum Security Prison in California. There I discovered that they had had a Tai Chi Meditation program, called Tai Chi Chih, for 2 years before I got there. In that time, not only had the “incident rates” (rates of violence and misbehavior) dropped for the Tai Chi Meditation group, but they had dropped for the entire prison.

My friends, we are on the cusp of a huge global transformation. There is no greater cause than the cause of expanding mind-body meditative instruction into public education worldwide. It should be a United Nations multi-national and also organic human movement, pushing for this as rapidly as possible.

This is the mission of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, and of World Healing Day. We founded World Tai Chi & Qigong Day 18 years ago, and it evolved into the larger event of World Healing Day, where we invited other mind-body modalities to participate on the same day to educate the world on mind-body practices, and to provide a visual example of how the world can come together each year for health and healing. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi described our efforts on page 25 of their recently released landmark book:

“A reflection of how successful the invasion has been is World Tai Chi Day, organized by Bill Douglas. One of the purposes of this day is ‘to bring together people across racial, economic, religious, and geo-political boundaries, to join together for the purpose of health and healing, providing an example to the world.” Millions of people around the world – 65 nations participated in 2011 – gather one day each year to celebrate the health and healing benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong.”
— The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, page 25

This event, again, is a prototype for what is now becoming World Healing Day, held on the last Saturday of April each year, which now is also open to not just World Tai Chi Day, and World Qigong Day, mass exhibitions and teach ins, but also World Yoga Day events, World Reiki Day, and World Healing Meditation Day, events, all held on the same day in 100s of cities in over 80 nations.

The most powerful prophecy is the “self-fulfilling prophecy.” The world of tomorrow is forming in our minds right at this moment. Part of your mind may be excited by what I have said, even as another part of your mind is telling you, this is too simple, too easy, if this were possible smart guys would have done it already. Do not let that part of your mind pull you back into the swamp. Simplicity is elegance, uncomplicated solution to the complexity of life.

A wise man once wrote, “Truth is simple. However, humanity will always stampede over simple truth to get to something more complicated.”

Do not make the mistake of stampeding over this simple truth. This is all possible, this new world is absolutely possible, it is infinitely economical, and it is scientifically valid. It will work! There is no doubt. Do not fear hope and love, that is what the universe is constructed of, that is why love positively affects our DNA function and our economy. Let its simple truth pull you to this elegant simple solution to humanity’s future.

The prophets of old extolling us to see our “state of consciousness” and “compassion” as most important were giving us a hard scientific mathematical formula for our future. Meditation spread worldwide is the key to our future. This is the Gospel of Science.

What meditation seems to do, is to bring us back to our most natural state—compassion and love—woven within our very DNA and the fabric of the universe.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
– Jesus (John 8:32)

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us a universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest . . . a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
– Albert Einstein

Love thy neighbor as thyself.
– The Bible

Allah created nations and tribes that we might know one another, not that we might despise one another.
– The Koran

. . . never to turn aside the stranger, for it is like turning aside the most high God.
– The Torah

Full of love for all things in the world; practicing virtue in order to benefit others, this man alone is happy.
– The Buddha

The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.
– Tao Te Ching

Seek to be in harmony with all your neighbors; live in amity with your brethren.
– Confucius

Let us walk softly on the Earth with all living beings great and small, remembering as we go, that one God kind and wise created all.
– Native American Psalm

Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.
– Socrates

A man obtains a proper rule of action by looking on his neighbor as himself.
– Hindu Psalm

Regard Heaven as your father, Earth as your mother, And all things as your brothers and sisters.
– Shintoism, Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta

And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.
– Bahá’í World Faith

This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.
– Brahmanism

Don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you.
– British Humanist Society

In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.
– Jainism

The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves.
– Roman Pagan Religion

Don’t create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone.
– Sikhism

We affirm and promote respect for the interdependence of all existence of which we are a part.
– Unitarian

One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.
– Yoruba (Nigeria)

 That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.
– Zoroastrianism

Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature.
– Immanuel Kant

May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.
– Plato

All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.
– Black Elk


~Bill Douglas is the author of a best-selling Tai Chi book published in several languages, and the “Tao of Tai Chi: The Making of a New Science,” and a new soon to be released book, “The Gospel of Science.” Bill has been a Tai Chi source for media worldwide, including: New York Times; Wall Street Journal; Strive Magazine; Self Magazine; Reader’s Digest; BBC World Radio; The South China Morning Post; and China’s Xinhua News Agency. Bill Douglas is the Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, and World Healing Day, recognized by 22 US governors, and government bodies worldwide, including the National Congress of Brazil. Its motto is: “One World … One Breath.”

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

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