On Sunday, Jan. 13th Lynne McTaggart joined me for a rich discussion she asked me to title “The Power of Eight”. I invite you to listen in to our far-ranging discussion. You’ll see that she is a whip-smart, well-informed, inspiring advocate for a uplifting vision of our own creative efficacy in a world that needs our caring intention.
Lynne’s bestselling books, The Field, The Intention Experiment, and The Bond are the result of work that evolved from a personal ideal. Some years ago, she became ill and couldn’t find any answers through conventional medical channels, so she began her own investigation and found a pioneering doctor who partnered with her in exploring alternative modalities through which she regained her health. Out of this experience, she started the newsletter What Doctors Don’t Tell You (now a book and color print magazine) to share the dangers of conventional treatments that don’t work and alternative approaches that do. But she discovered even more fundamental principles about the little-known body of scientific evidence for a much more dynamic and creative relationship between mind and body that bridges science with many principles of ancient spiritual wisdom. That work evolved into her runaway bestseller, The Field and The Intention Experiment, and most recently, The Bond.
This upending of long-held, “expert” assumptions about what is good for us and why we behave the way we do has informed all of Lynne’s work. Her most recent writing focuses on questioning the entrenched Newtonian and Neo-Darwinian presumptions that predominate in western scientific and medical culture. Although a hard-headed science reporter at heart, she has become an activist and advocate for the evolution of science beyond materialistic dogmas.
As one example, Lynne pointed out that many Neo-Darwinists take it as an article of faith that life must proceed by a zero-sum struggle—I win, you lose. In her book The Bond she points to the profound ways that evolution selects for cooperation and non-zero-sum interactions. This is a principle in nature and it’s even reflected in game theory—she described the “Nash Equilibrium”, celebrated in the popular movie A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe. Nash’s insight was to quantify the evolutionary advantages of choosing what is best not only for oneself but also for the rest of one’s group. Lynne asserts that nature has designed us to connect. She concludes that disconnected living is against nature and that society frays as a result of this level of unfairness and everyman for himself attitude.
We also discussed Lynne’s extensive work on the power of intention. Since many experiments proving the power of intention have very small “effect size”, I wondered about how large an effect Lynne thinks our intentions really can have. And I asked her about how we can avoid conflating the real power of intention with the pop cultural presumption that “we create our own reality” and the magical thinking of praying for new cars and jumbo flat screen TV’s. Lynne agreed, and articulated a sober but hopeful framing of the real effects of intention. She described a few of the experiments she has recently organized, one in which the focused intention of a group has been correlated with measurable reductions in crime and violence, and another in which intention correlated with the purification of a body of water. Lynne pointed out that as integral parts of the universe we are all streaming out our thoughts and judgments, good and bad, to the universe all the time. Few of us are truly conscious of what we are sending to the universe, let alone generating powerful coherent intentions. Incoherent intention tends to create an incoherent world. But the cultivation of clear, focused positive intention, especially by groups, even groups as small as eight, have much greater impact.
She concluded the dialog with a call for cooperation. She would like to see a vast reeducation program that would eventually help us mutually deconstruct the cultural assumptions that undergird our competitive cultural dynamics as they express themselves in every competitive societal structure—from educational to scientific to commercial to financial interactions. She suggested three more essential cultural touchstones—“share, care and be fair”.
Several people have already told me that they have felt greatly inspired by Lynne’s message, and by the potentials of streaming group intention out to an ever-listening “inter-galactic super organism”, the fabric of which is infused with the proto-sentience found in the basic stuff of the universe; a re-enchanted world where the field of mutuality is a principle, not just a minor tool.
I invite you to listen to the full dialog here.