Monthly Archives: April 2010

Bio-Ethics

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Going hand-in-hand with the advances in biology and its many new applications, are questions of an ethical nature.

Ethical considerations lie at the root of many personal and social decisions we make. At its most basic level ethics concerns itself with what we consider to be good and bad, and how we should live and behave in our communities.

In the field of genetics, for instance, it may become technically feasible to genetically clone a human. Whether we should or not is an ethical consideration.

With many of these issues, there often is not a simple right or wrong solution. Which isn’t to say that a simple solution cannot be imposed by a legal ruling or a religious doctrine.

Potentially the most fascinating and intellectually challenging aspects to this comes from within the plurality of a liberal society. After all, this currently is where the majority of scientific discoveries are made, and not in the intellectual vacuum of a theocracy.

The sheer pace of bio-technological innovation is a further complicating factor. Many of our ethical beliefs on what is permissible are derived from both our current social framework and our cultural heritage. The social institutions we use to define our ethical stance, especially from a legal perspective, are often worked out at a much slower pace than the innovations in biology and medicine.

In addition to the immediate legal considerations of whether it is permissible to to turn off a life support system, even though that system’s technology could keep the person alive, the questions raised here can cause us to reflect more deeply on who and what we are as humans.

Broadening this out from the intensely personal to a society at large, then some fascinating social issues arise from the continued innovations in bio-technology. For instance, if life threatening hereditary illnesses can be vastly reduced, what impact does a population which will potentially live longer have on the earth’s resources, on prejudices against the elderly, on financial markets and on government social planning.

Advances in biological sciences are presenting us with many opportunities to reconsider and reflect on issues such as: The relationship between the individual and the group; the gap between the haves and have nots; our value perceptions of what constitutes health; the allocation of healthcare resources; who we bring into this world and who we let leave … and many more.

If you would like to explore this topic further, here are some resources:

1. Biomedical Ethics:
A Multidisciplinary To Moral Issues In Medicine And Biology

Ed. David Steinberg M.D.

USA Books UK Books Canadian Books

2. Bioscience Ethics, by Irina Pollard.

USA Books UK Books Canadian Books

3. DNA: Promise & Peril, by L. L. McCabe and E. R. B. McCabe.

USA Books UK Books Canadian Books

© David R. Durham

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The Divine

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Our thirst for the divine: whether perceived as separate from us, or understood to be our core spiritual nature, seems to be unquenchable human drive.

One of the leading explorers in this field is Sanaya Roman, who through her spirit guide Orin, has developed an extensive body of work on the divine and working with divine will.

In Sanaya’s own words:

This Divine Self exists at an even higher level than your soul. It is the Divine essence of your being, the source of all light and life within you.

Your soul is an intermediary between you and your Divine Self until such time as you are able to directly experience and realize the Divine Self as who you are.

Your Divine Self is an Infinite Being. It is the Self that is free from all attachments and desires It is beyond all action. It is the Self that is constant, unchanging, indestructible.The Divine Self is birthless and deathless.

It always IS. It is the Self that is the observer of your experiences. It watches the activities of your mind, but is not identified with them. It is the source of all answers.

The Divine Self is a center of consciousness within the One Self Words or descriptions of the Divine Self are inadequate. The Self is best known through a direct experience.

If you would like to explore your divine nature, click on the web-link below.

© David R. Durham

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Human Motivations

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The psychologist Abraham Maslow was one of the founders of the Humanistic school of psychology.

Working in the central part of the last century, he was one of the first psychologists to study mentally healthy people, and asked what makes them tick. Prior to this point, much of psychological enquiry had focused only on the mentally ill.

In his research and studies, he was particularly drawn to the wealth of motivations which we humans exhibit.

To assist us in understanding his thoughts and findings, he created a diagram to explore the relationships of our physiological and psychological needs. This diagram, which is now quite famous, is a rather elegant pyramid.

Maslow

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

There are several interesting dimensions to this mapping of human motivations. For instance, the pyramidical shape implies the necessity of the lower levels to support the upper ones. This shape also conveys that more resources may be required or demanded at the lower levels.

Another interesting facet is that we can quite easily be active at several levels at the same or at similar times. And it may only be in rare, or very short term time periods, when we are exclusively occupied at a single level.

Indeed Maslow’s work invites multiple interpretations and applications from fields as diverse as marketing, religious studies and psychotherapy.

Abraham Maslow’s own book on this subject is Motivation and Personality, Third Edition, Harper and Row Publishers. And explorations of his work can be found in many general psychology books.

© David R. Durham

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On Death & Dying

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As an exploration of some of our key emotional responses to dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s book On Death and Dying, initially published in 1969, remains one of the most fascinating observations and reflections of this final phase of our life.

For ease of discussion, Dr Kübler-Ross suggested there were several common stages we go through in the death process: Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

These stages are not hard and fast, for instance some people will start at depression, whilst others may not go through all five stages at all.

By listening to, and encouraging others to do the same, Dr Kübler-Ross highlighted an important need of the dying. That is their need to be listened to and to be heard.

When the opportunity of listening to the dying is taken, it helps them psychologically and emotionally during their dying process, and it also assists those close to the dying person in coming to terms with their loss.

All in all a thought provoking and highly recommended book:

 

© David R. Durham

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Spring & Renewal

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Stolling through Hyde Park in the warm sunshine, it feels like spring has finally sprung in London.

After a long and cold winter, one of the coldest in some 30 years, there is an extra sense of relief and renewal as the new leaves unfold and colourful spring flowers and tree blossoms appear.

Cherry Blossoms in Hyde Park
Hyde Park

Shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 85mm (1.8) lens

Spring is one of the renewal cycles of our external world which we most welcome. An exciting part of the unfolding cycle of birth, grow and death which life expresses itself through.

Internally, we go through many such cycles everyday. Our bodies are continually renewing themselves, with cells being born and dying each hour of every day and it is said that our bodies renew themselves every seven years.

Which edition of your body are you on?

© David R. Durham

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Portrait Photography

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On a slightly different theme, photography, I have recently been on a very interesting portrait photography course with the London Academy of Media & TV.

I had great fun playing with different lighting scenarios, backgrounds, poses etc. Here are a couple of examples:

Single light source & dark background
Portrait 1

Multiple light sources & light background
Portrait 1
Shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 85mm (1.8) lens

Many thanks to the tutor Othello for his excellent teaching.

© David R. Durham

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Enlightenment

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There is a lot of excitement, interest and information generated by the concept of spiritual enlightenment.

It goes under various terms such as nirvana, satori, samadhi, penetrating the cloud of unknowing etc.

It is generally viewed as a desirable state of being and a mark of spiritual achievement.

There are at least a couple of features of enlightenment, which the gurus, yogis and other assorted spiritual teachers fail to point out to their earnest students.

The first is that an enlightened is not some happy-ever-after state of being. To use an analogy, it is similar to the proverbial romantic tale. Boy meets girl, they fall ‘in love’, they’re from different social or ethnic backgrounds so there is one f**** of a fight before they can get married …. and then after all that emotional trauma, well …. they just sail into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Life turns out to be not that simple, and after the proverbial honeymoon period, their relationship takes a lot of work to maintain and develop and so on.

Enlightenment is a lot like that. After the thrill of all that energy and expanded consciousness there are still bills to be paid, dogs to be walked and meals to be cooked. I.e. living goes on pretty much as before.

Which bring me onto the second feature often not mentioned by gurus: Enlightenment is not an end state, rather it is a new insight into life and a different way of expressing our being. An unfolding way of being which still needs work to continue growing and developing.

A third feature I’ll mention in passing, is that you will discover (rather to your embarrassment) that you were enlightened all along, and you were just pretending not to be, so you could play the game of being human.

© David R. Durham

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Here & Now

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There’s a lot of guff written about being here now. The power of now, the zen of now etc. etc.

In a nutshell, we as conscious human beings are conscious now in this particular location in space and moment in time.

When we recall a past experience – it is recalled in this here and now.

When we imagine a future experience – it is imagined in this here and now.

We live and have our human being in this here and now.

Got it?

There I’ve just save you lots of wasted time & money reading books or god forbid, doing courses.

p.s.
Is it just me, or have you also seen stuffed toys with more personality than that Ekhart bloke?

© David R. Durham

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