It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Nature’s Identity Crisis and Ours

By Zach Bush MD, Paul J. Mills, PhD, Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, Michelle A. Williams, ScD  and Deepak Chopra™ MD

As our nation dives into sorrow and outrage over another merciless killing of a black man without cause, we must take the opportunity to transform a deep mindset. To achieve this, we will have to collectively shake off deep patterns of subconscious and conscious beliefs and experiences. The frequency of these instances of wrongful deaths and centuries of racially motivated abuses throughout the world creates hopelessness in our minds.  For all of the rhetoric and grandstanding of our politicians and special interest groups, we do not see fundamental change happening. This hopelessness breeds violence, resignation, isolation, paranoia, and of course more fear.

Whatever the current crises happen to be—right now it is COVID, racial injustice, police brutality, and street demonstrations—a familiar pattern has been nearly impossible to break. The crisis generates a public outcry, humanitarians face off against reactionaries, and once the worst of the crisis simmers down, things go back to normal. The great hope now, however, is that “normal” will finally be seen for its distorted abnormality.


In our view, this abnormality runs deeper than a pandemic or heart-rending injustice and inequality. A much-needed shift cannot take place until humankind passes through an identity crisis. How we see ourselves is presently through a distorted lens, and our illusions extend to the very basis of Nature herself. Human activity has despoiled Nature without conscience because humans, at our core, feel that this is our right as the planet’s superior life form. The contradiction here is that a truly superior life form would respect all of life, seeing the wonder and fragility of the miracle known as biodiversity.

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A New World Needs a New Worldview

It is very rare that human beings have a chance to rethink our place in Nature. The modern world is the fruit of a worldview that has placed Homo sapiens reigning supreme over all other life forms.  This worldview seems only right and proper to the vast majority of people. In the course of just a few weeks, however, over seven billion people’s lives changed for the worse.  Economies were halted, global transportation and supply chains were shut down to a crawl, and hundreds of millions of jobs were lost. More money has been lost globally than in any other moment in history. Amid the shock and panic, the catastrophe of COVID-19 has prompted some radical rethinking. Can a new and better world emerge? Not unless our worldview changes, because in many ways the virus isn’t a mindless primitive life form ravaging us, “the most superior life form on the planet”. Nor did Nature strike back to punish us. Something deeper is going on. To see what it is, we need to consider a worldview based not on humans-as-supreme, but on life-as-supreme.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Golden Thread

The thread on the border of the fabric painting of Mount Fuji—stitched so many years ago, so many oceans away—has held the scene together longer than I’ve been alive. And on this uneventful morning, the soft rain makes the oak outside my window dip enough for the early light to stream across the braided mountain hanging on my wall. Now the thread on the border swells with the sun and seems for the moment the source of all strength. Then the sun steps higher in the sky, and the thread that holds all things together goes back to work.

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Locked down While the Earth has this Chance to Heal Itself

Humans are on lockdown to give the planet a minute to rebirth. Turtles are able to lay eggs on the beaches without human interference, polluted skies are clearing, fish are jumping, birds are singing, the deer and the antelope are playing. Look at us.

We will be back but maybe we have learned a thing, or two. The universe is gifting us with a second chance to get it right - to discover (or rediscover) what is truly important to us. The gift is an equalizer. Everyone is affected equally - rich, poor, white, black, gay, straight - Finally.... We are one. Finally we are in this together and for each other. It is not your thing, or my thing - it is our thing.

It is as if we were spinning out of control - faster and faster and faster and the universe hit the brakes. Just stop, take a breath, begin anew. Begin anew with new and fresh and fair paradigms.

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Coronavirus Speaks – Loudly And Clearly

“Virus epidemics are Mother Earth’s way of teaching us lessons that have lasting impacts,” an Andean Shaman told me. “When we contract a disease – or worry over it – we learn about ourselves and the world around us.”

I’ve thought about the historical implication of those words during this time of the coronavirus. A couple of perspectives:

  • The Black Plague that swept through Asia, Africa, and Europe in the 14th century killed an estimated 50 million people, as much as 60% of the population. It ended up impacting ideas about contamination, the economy, environment, and the importance of science. Although the role of viruses would not be discovered until much later, people realized that removing garbage and sewage from the streets and quarantining infected patients prevented it from spreading. Because of the many deaths, labor was in short supply and gained the bargaining power to increase wages significantly. As populations shrank, so did communities and farm lands; forests were rejuvenated. Perhaps most important for the long-term, the Plague generated an interest in scientific approaches to medicine and understanding the universe. (1)
  • The most notorious virus in modern times is the one that causes HIV/AIDS, a virus that since it was first identified in the early 1980s has caused an estimated 32 million deaths. (2) The HIV/AIDs virus has had huge social, cultural, economic, and educational impacts. It has taught us about the importance of safe sex, clean needles, properly-administered blood transfusions, and timely medical treatment. It has kept many people out of labor forces, especially in parts of Africa, and thus has decreased their purchasing power and GDP growth. (3) It has resulted in many attitudinal changes previously held toward different races and sexual beliefs; these resulted in new perceptions and established new laws and cultural norms. 
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A Whale Song and the Soul’s Light

As I often say, some people are attracted to light, while others emanate it. Let me tell you a story about the parents of a very good friend of mine. This is such a special story and one I hold close to my heart.

Ken and Pat are from Great Britain and were in the U.S. for a visit. I thought I’d surprise them by taking them out on a very special boat trip. It was the first time Ken and Pat were going to experience a whale-watching excursion.

As the boat slipped away from the New England harbor, Ken was clearly eager as he looked overboard, scanning the water with his battered and aged binoculars. The boat gathered speed and we headed out into the ocean, which was unbelievably calm. It was about an hour and a half later that we saw in the distance the first spouts from a family of whales.

The captain announced we were going to edge closer to the whales. He explained: “Male humpback whales sing the longest and most complex songs in the animal kingdom, each one lasting for half an hour or so. They sing to woo females and frighten off rival males. The songs can be heard underwater hundreds of miles away!”

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Singing Light

When I was ill, I walked
the antiseptic corridors,
holding God so tightly
I couldn’t see a thing.

Only now, years later, have
I had this dream in which
a small bird is singing light.
It follows me and everything
it brushes begins to glow.
I catch it, to have with me always.
But in my hands, it stops singing.

It’s made me see that more than
holding, we need to be held,
by the larger things that
enable us to live out loud.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Drop of Ocean

The drop of ocean teaches us about integrity and faith because, no matter how churned up it is, it never loses its transparency or its ability to go clear. As transparency and clarity are intrinsic to the true nature of water, integrity and faith are intrinsic to our true nature. Regardless of how churned up we are, restoring our transparency will enliven our integrity, and restoring our clarity will enliven our faith.

As one drop of the sea contains the entire ocean, each human being contains all of humanity. When churned up and full of trouble, we are disconnected from this living heritage and things always feel worse than they are. When transparent and clear, we reflect and reveal all of humanity and are able to draw strength from the living heritage we are a part of. This is why we need to discover and inhabit a personal practice of transparency and clarity that will return us to our true nature by restoring our integrity and faith.

All the spiritual traditions offer rituals and practices, including all forms of meditation, in order to support us in our ongoing task of returning to our true nature when the roughness of living challenges our assumptions. How do we personalize these practices? How do we create our own? What is your own history of being churned up? What are the ways by which you have restored your own transparency and clarity? Who and what helps you return to your true nature?

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The Incredible Vanishing Universe (And How to Bring It Back)

Looking up at the night sky reveals an uncountable richness of stars and galaxies, which gets augmented billions of times over through telescope images from deep space. The cosmos looks to be in no danger of disappearing, but this is just a comforting illusion.

Starting in 1933, with the first intimation that dark matter existed—an idea discarded at the time, waiting another 35 years to resurface—the visible universe has been so undermined by dark matter and energy that it now ranks in size about the same as the cherry atop an ice cream sundae. By current estimates dark matter accounts for 27% of the universe, dark energy for 68%, and everything else in the observable universe a mere 5%.

You might see the situation as a kind of “tip of the iceberg,” with the bulk of the berg hidden underwater, but the reality is more baffling.  No one knows how the hidden bulk of the universe relates to the visible tip. It isn’t even credible yet that “matter” and “energy” are the right words for it.

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Does Nature Have Rights?

Do birds have rights? What about bees, flowers, and trees? Or whales and giraffes? Rivers and lakes? These are profound questions that tap into the very nature of life on Earth. Currently, people around the world are focused on climate change: Does it exist, and if so, is it natural or unnatural? Yet, climate change is only one aspect of the larger issue of how human beings relate to the world in general. Do we see Nature as something to be used and then discarded, or do we see it as a living presence that we are part of, the heart and soul of life on Earth?

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It's Complicated

“No matter how many bombs we drop, no matter how skillfully our soldiers fight, we are not responding to the ultimate challenge until we show the world how and why we must all learn to live in peace...”   -Sargent Shriver

I've Been Thinking...

There was so much news this week it was almost impossible to keep up with it all.

We began with stories of retribution, revenge, and a possible war. (Thank God cooler heads seemed to have prevailed.) Then we ended with what’s being portrayed as a war inside the House of Windsor, a.k.a. the British royal family. Impeachment, climate change, a downed airplane killing all on board, and the devastating loss of Australian life and wildlife also competed for our attention. 

Leave it to the queen to sum it all up for us. In a statement from Buckingham Palace, she or her aides pronounced: “It’s complicated." You think? Holy moly.

“It’s complicated” (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies) seems to perfectly sum up our politics, the Middle East, and how many families are feeling these days. 

What I took away from everything this week was this: life is indeed complicated, but it can also be really simple. Like Harry and Meghan, each of us has the personal right or duty to take a moment to step back and reassess what is or isn’t working—be it in our families, our relationships, our places of work, and or our politics. Then we can each make a decision to step up and speak out, or step back and stand down.

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How to Trust the Universe Fully

Folks often ask me how to develop trust in the Universe.

How do you not have trust and faith in life?

Look around.

We live in a crazy unique, amazing, unbelievable universe.

If you simply just observe life, observe the nature of what is, the nature of life: the sun, the sky, the moon, the animals.

There is an intelligence.

There is something that is functioning for all existence.

Every day for billions and billions of years life was existing.

Life is existing…

Enjoy my short video on How To Develop More Trust and Faith in the Universe. 

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Animals Teach Us To Love

For all of you who are animal lovers like me, I’d like to share a beautiful story about “Greyfriars Bobby.”

Bobby was a Skye Terrier that belonged to a police officer named John Gray in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1850s. Back then, police officers were required to have watchdogs. Terriers seemed a perfect fit because they are known for their watchful eye and booming bark.

Every day, Bobby would obediently follow his master on his daily rounds. Wherever Constable Gray was, there was Bobby faithfully walking beside him. The two were inseparable. Sadly, one day in 1858, Constable Gray died of tuberculosis. The poor dog must have been incredibly confused, finding himself all alone as he sat beside his master’s coffin. When it was time for the funeral procession, witnesses saw Bobby walking proudly in line, constantly looking up at the coffin that was being carried by Gray’s fellow officers.

Constable Gray was laid to rest in Greyfriars Churchyard. When the grave was filled in, friends, family and colleagues returned to their normal lives. But the Constable’s loyal companion Bobby continued to lay by his master’s grave day after day, rain or shine. Neighbors and passersby began to feed him, and this went on for years.

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There Is No chaos, There Is Only Creativity

The human mind is addicted to opposites, but it turns out that Nature isn’t. This statement becomes important in a deep way when it comes to chaos. In our minds chaos, or disorder, is the opposite of order. By thinking like this, we oblige the human tendency to prefer order over disorder. Leading an orderly life supports every kind of organized activity from making a meal out of raw ingredients assembled in an orderly way to making an iPhone or any other technological tool in an orderly way.

Chaos is the messiness that disrupts order and can cause it to fall apart. In Victorian times mental illness was often referred to as a disordered mind, and it is the mind that we rely upon to keep life organized and rational. But what if this whole discussion is simply wrong? As long as we believe in chaos, it serves as a potent threat. Cancer causes chaos in the regulation of the body; earthquakes shake up cities; riots in the street threaten civil society.

The threat of chaos changes when we shift our perspective. Expand your viewpoint, and chaos is the mask worn by creativity. To die of cancer returns your orderly body to a disorderly state known as decay, but the material of your body continues to contribute to the life of fungi, bacteria, and  other micro-organisms. Good for them, you might grumble, but without them, human DNA could not have evolved. Earthquakes topple buildings, but without seismic shifts, the present-day continents wouldn’t exist, or the life forms that inhabit Asia instead of Africa or North America instead of Europe.

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How Has Your Animal Helped You?

Animals are miraculous gifts to us. The power of an animal’s love, intuition and wisdom is greatly underestimated—whether it’s an ape that not only understands but also responds to sign language or a special cat that made the news by instinctively knowing when its nursing-home residents were about to leave this world. Then there’s the dog that helps its therapist owner detect abnormalities in her patients’ bodies and the story of the amazingly brave elephants that impulsively knew they had to save themselves by moving to higher ground when a devastating tsunami hit the west coast of Sumatra.

Animals have been our spiritual companions since the dawn of time. Humans have honored them throughout history, as can be seen in those early drawings on the walls of caves—man and dog hunting side by side. Egyptians have treated cats like gods, American Indians have honored many different animals on totem poles, and the elders in the tribe would teach the children about the importance of each living thing.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: What It Means to See

To see takes time like to have a friend takes time.

Georgia O’Keeffe

I was born a seer. Early on, words became the brushes with which I tried to paint what I saw. In time, I learned that while art is movement through space and music is movement through time, poetry is both. And each of us is born with an inclination toward seeing or hearing. I was born a painter and sculptor in a poet’s body.

Over the years, I’ve come across several legendary crossovers in the arts: those whose vision comes in one form, while their expression comes in another. Michelangelo’s genius came from being a sculptor forced by Pope Julius to paint, forced to compress and express his gift for three dimensions into two dimensions. The result was his masterpiece, The Sistine Chapel ceiling. George Bernard Shaw was a social theorist and critic in a playwright’s body. Aldous Huxley was a philosopher in a novelist’s body. And Robert Frost was a masterful short story writer, a weaver of potent yarns, born in a rhymer’s body.

The insight here is that each needed to express what they saw through the instrument they were given. This dynamic is what gave rise to their genius. I suspect that if George Bernard Shaw had expressed his social ideas in pure social writing, their potency would have been lost.

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The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

It would be ideal if reality and our model of reality merged into the same thing. A model of reality explains how the universe was created and how it operates. You might think that this is a definition of reality itself, but it isn’t, which can be illustrated by looking at the most popular model, known as naïve realism.

In a nutshell, naïve realism says that what you see is what you get. In other words, the reality presented by the five senses is reliable. Such a view appeals to common sense. It rests on experiences we take for granted. There is a physical world “out there” separate from our subjective experience “in here.” The physical world predates human beings by 13.8 billion years, going back to the Big Bang. If both of those things are true, then obviously what we think, feel, and desire “in here” has no effect on reality “out there.”

As unimaginably sophisticated as modern science has become, most scientists accept naïve realism, usually without question, even though each of the common-sense facts just mentioned is known to be false.

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Birdsong: Don't Let the Music Die...

In 1962, Rachel Carson called it the “silent spring,” the time when pesticides would destroy birds and other wildlife and leave humanity existing in a half-life of stunned silence. Her work was the impetus for the environmental movement and has influenced millions of people worldwide. Yet today, more than 50 years later, pesticides are still very much in use, and we are facing the slow, agonizing fulfillment of her prophecy. In September, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study of North American bird populations. The results: Since 1970, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds singing their spring songs, a staggering 29% gone from the Earth. Bird experts and conservationists are calling it “a full-blown crisis” and “the loss of nature.”*

The day I read these figures, I wept. I could feel my heart breaking. The losses are so huge. Beloved warblers in all their colorful variety: 617 million gone. Two of my all-time favorite birds: Baltimore orioles, 2 in 5 gone; wood thrushes, 6 in 10 gone. It is hard to fathom. Almost unbelievable. The birds that I eagerly anticipated seeing and hearing each spring are vanishing and may one day be gone forever. What would spring be without birds? Without the robin’s cheery song and the redwing blackbird’s flashing colors and ringing call? Dead air, everywhere.

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It’s Still Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reevaluate, Realign, & Release for Deep Healing

It’s that time again…actually, we are already halfway through this cycle of Mercury Retrograde! Right about now, you’re probably thinking I KNEW IT! That’s why everything has gone awry. So, if you just got frazzled and also weirdly relieved at the mention of this planetary cycle, take a deep breath. Today I’m going to share my insight into this Retrograde and help you make the most of the next nine days, as I feel the last week of Mercury Retrograde is the most profound. 

For a quick refresher, from October 31st through November 20th, Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio, the sign of deep-diving and deeper healing. Mercury Retrograde happens three to four times per year when the planet Mercury slows down and appears to stop and move backward. It’s an optical illusion, since there is forward movement, like speeding by a slow-moving train—as it recedes, it appears to go backward. 

The purpose of Mercury Retrograde is to review and revise our life and our connection with reality. In many ways, this time helps us prepare for the future by propelling us to realign and reevaluate our plans and ideas. Since Mercury rules communication, things most often go haywire in that area—computers go on the fritz, (totally happened to me) miscommunications abound, and often the internet goes down. 

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Dancing Butterflies, Ghost Orchids, Wild Skies: The Florida Dimension

“To live here is to know God, to live here is to understand the power of Nature, to live here is to celebrate life.”—Panache Desai

Like a quartz crystal sparkling in the sun, Florida has many facets. Last year, in late June 2018, my partner Anne and I moved here from Boston. As we drove south along the eastern seaboard, we felt ourselves dropping past identities and memories along the way. By the time we reached Florida, we were living lighter, not anticipating or looking back, but just being, living fully in the present moment. It was a heightened state of awareness, and it carried us seamlessly to the edge of new beginnings and unexpected experiences in an entirely different place.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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