Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Unlocking Nature's Code--the secret message in plain sight

Here’s the short version of this post: Nature’s Code is our DNA. It is the first language. It carries God’s oldest, most fundamental message; so it is the true ‘bible’. In order to live to our full potential—to find happiness, wellness, and peace—we must learn to ‘listen to our bodies.’ People call it instinct, or intuition. It is far more than that. It’s about getting in sync with four billion years of practical wisdom on how to succeed in life—written in a four-letter language at the core of every single cell in our bodies.

(Updated 7 October 2023)

This page, along with the Firestorm in the Wilderness tab, the Paradox tab, and the Great Stream tab, are where I “go deep”, delving into what I believe—the basis of my ‘religion’ or more accurately, the way I try to live and interact with my world.

In simplest terms ‘Nature’s Code’ starts with our DNA when it is first constructed (from sperm and egg) and our individual being is created as a single cell in a very protected environment (our mother’s womb). Lucky us. Cruder life forms send their spores to the wind and they’re immediately subject to the full gauntlet of threats and destructive forces that make up the rest of ‘Nature’s Code.’ More on that later.

For me, the three-billion-letter document that comprises our DNA is the original ‘bible’ and the most practical manifestation of God. It contains 1000 times more information than the Judeo-Christian bible (a paltry three million letters), and it has undergone far more rigorous real-world testing.

If you are devoutly religious, I have a little quiz for you:  Who wrote your faith’s foundational document? Did it have as many contributors as your DNA code has? If you had to choose between them, and trust only one, which would it be?

If your answer is “I trust my faith’s written scripture…” (more likely you’re Christian than Hindu or Buddhist, where no definitive canon exists) “…because it is the distillation of the greatest truth and comes from an omniscient supernatural source,” then I still would ask you to read on, because you are not wrong. It’s just that the miracle of an omniscient supernatural origin to all things does not give you a ‘pass’ to ignore the instructions of your DNA code. Did it not also come from that supernatural source?

I’ll take a quick aside here to discuss the position that … well … maybe human DNA was corrupted along the way—tampered with by … some other (evil) supernatural source that sprang from the original unified omniscient and omnipotent creator. Still not wrong. Still not a ‘pass’ to reject the instructions of your DNA. Some of the instructions do, indeed, tell you to do ‘evil.’ Just hang on a little longer.

Back to the simplest physical story. ‘Nature’s Code’ starts with our DNA as we ourselves start as a single cell in a very protected environment (our mother’s womb). Lucky us. Cruder life forms do not seem to be given a ‘soul’ before they are sent out into that full gauntlet of threats and destructive forces that make up the rest of ‘Nature’s Code.’

What is a soul? Supernatural or not? Nobody knows. Science hasn’t come up with a satisfactory explanation for what it calls ‘consciousness’ or for what it calls ‘intelligence’.

The religious discipline called ‘Science’ rejects anything and everything supernatural and simply leaves many questions unanswered. Most of us don’t like having such big empty gaping holes in our conception of reality, so we fill them with answers provided by our faith.

What is faith? Now we’re getting down to it—distillation of the greatest truth. Faith is what our ‘soul’ is made of; and it does not have to be considered supernatural but merely a part of reality that cannot be resolved by logic or by the discipline of the sciences.

Science is still our friend here, though. Science has proven in more than one way that its own discipline is incomplete—not because of the many things we haven’t learned yet, but because we HAVE learned that there are things that it is not possible to learn. In pure math, we have Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and Bertrand Russel's Paradox. In quantum physics we have the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the amazing ‘Measurement Problem’, which tells us that what we see actually shapes what is real.

Let’s look in on a scientific lab in action. A scientist is making a measurement. S/he has chosen the experiment with care, establishing a hypothesis about some unknown phenomenon, designing an experiment to test it, and is now making the measurement to see whether the hypothesis is confirmed or must be rejected.

A hypothesis is a conjecture about reality. It is not truth and never was. Where did these claims—these ‘fantasies’, these supernatural constructs about reality—come from?

The answer is ‘consciousness’—intuition, inspiration, imagination—and it is a faith-based process deeply rooted in our subconscious and underlain by the four-billion-year training of our DNA. Yet progress in science critically depends on it.  It is our species' big advantage.  Our DNA has given us the ability to construct imaginary ‘models’ of reality in our head—fantasies that sometimes give us a competitive edge.

The stone-age hunter waits at a waterhole, knowing (i.e. believing) that the oryx will appear at sundown. S/he hides in the bush, having never seen this particular animal before. And here it comes. A spear whooshes toward its mark, the prey falls, and dinner is served. The hunter survives and passes on his/her skills to the next generation.

The ’vision’ of the imaginary prey coming to the water hole is the scientist’s hypothesis. The experiment is each individual hunt. The chosen place for the experiment is the water hole. Around the fire that night, the hunter declares that God has been merciful and provided the prey. The scientist will probably form more hypotheses about oryx behavior and send a bunch of summer interns out into the bush to study them. In response to all the kids swarming around in the bush, the oryx might become skittish about the human presence and stop coming to the waterhole. This is a simple example of the ‘Measurement Problem’. What you choose to study affects what you learn. And it is a simple example of two very different religions. ‘God provides’ or ‘if you delve deeper, you’ll find the physical truth.’

Well, science has delved *much* deeper and found that the ultimate answer is bound up in an entirely unfathomable realm where there is no physical truth, called the quantum foam.  What you see emerging from the quantum foam depends entirely on what you're looking for.

Does ‘God provides’ tell you anything different? The oryx comes to the waterhole because it is driven by the programming of ‘Nature’s Code,’ rooted in the origin of life itself and lost in the hazes of time.

At the beginning of this discussion, I equated Nature’s Code with God. I think I’ll rest my case here.

DNA’s complex message, written using just four simple letters, defines us, guides us, and makes us who we are. It is always there, providing the ‘instinct’ that we use to respond to our surroundings, and so it is the single greatest influence on our lives.

Yet we modern humans often deny our instincts, forcing our lives in unnatural directions. Our DNA has taken us in the direction of forming a very complex brain, but is that a good thing or a bad one? More than any other living thing, we have tuned out our genetic guidance, drifting away from the strong currents that make up the course of true, long-term success. We think too much—create our own mental models that are always full of flaws and omissions. Losing ourselves in these models, we use our minds to drown out the deeper, older messages that nature has put in place to guide the Venerable species down the right channel in that ever-shifting Great Stream of life.  DNA does make mistakes.  Species go extinct from time to time because the course that their DNA has set them on was not sufficient.  Yet the Great Stream flows on all the stronger for these branches that go astray.  It is the greatest self-correcting instruction code ever conceived.  The skills at logical thinking that it has given us *ought* to give us a distinct advantage.  We can learn from the mistakes of others without being hurt ourselves.  We can test different courses with our mental models and choose the best of them.  But the key is keeping the DNA guidance at the heart of each decision--the good of the species, the good of the greater web of life.

Our DNA isn’t going away. Even if we aren't paying attention to it, it remains in place, waiting patiently. Its message is constantly, quietly, trying to influence us to follow the right course. Other ways of saying this same thing have been expressed by many of our established religions. The Christian God wants us to find salvation. The Buddha wants to show us the way out of suffering. The very word “Islam” is an appeal to still our thoughts and submit to the message of God, to surrender ourselves (our busy, self-centered minds) in order to find the course to joy, wellness, love, and happiness—the 'Way of the Great Stream'.

Throughout history human messengers have been inspired to spread the word (Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, etc.). The similarity of themes in their messages demonstrates a common origin. Their inspiration comes from what Judeo-Christians call the "Holy Spirit"—the very real strength, confidence, and positivity that we feel when we are ‘on course’, living or conveying a message we know is true, important, and helpful to those around us. I find it useful to personalize that Spirit. I call her Dalle, from the French and old Norse roots meaning ‘channel’—the strongest currents in the eternal Great Stream of Life. Dalle’s voice becomes ours when we heed God’s message. Dalle’s currents flow strongest when we are following the Way of the Great Stream through life. She is like a megaphone—an amplifier—giving greater strength to every word we speak, every action we take, when it is in tune with the deep-seated message of our DNA.

We all know this to be true. We’ve all felt the surge of strength and sense of well-being that comes from doing right, from pursuing a cause larger than ourselves.

Most significantly, to me, is that nothing I’ve said so far requires one shred of supernatural influence. DNA is a text that is more complete than any science book, more powerful than any religious volume, and more influential than the greatest inspirational speech ever delivered. Reading this text is not optional. We all do it all the time. It is what makes our hearts pump and our lungs draw in the fresh air. But its message holds so much more for us. Imagine, knowing all the mysteries that scholars explore as they interpret the bible, how much richer our lives can be if we devote more of our energies toward personally interpreting that great book written at the very core of each and every cell in our bodies.

Let the work begin. I pray that you will find your true path. May your days be filled with peace, joy, and wisdom walking the Way of the Great Stream.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hiking Moloka'i

Mokapu Island and Moloka'i's rugged north shore as seen from the Kalaupapa peninsula

Moloka'i (pronounced MO-lo-kah'-ee with a glottal stop--shut off all air output through your throat-- between the last two syllables) is one of the least visited and one of the most purely Hawaiian of the Hawai'i Island Chain.  I spent a week here in 1986 and several more days in 2009.  The memories are indelible.  And the best of them were experienced on foot, in places automobiles can't go.

On both visits I hiked the rambling undeveloped beaches of Kephui Beach and Papohaku Beach Park on the western end of the island, with views of Oahu just across the Kaiwi Channel:

Looking SW from Kephui Beach at sunset
Kephui Beach, looking N to the three lonely coconut palms
Sunset over Oahu, seen from Kephui Beach, western Moloka'i

And on both visits I walked the famous mule trail, which switches back and forth down a 1500 foot cliff to the inaccessible Leper Colony, home of the recently Sainted Father Damien, on the Kalaupapa Peninsula.  The trail starts at Pala'au State Park, famous for its sacred phallic rock, a place of pilgrimage for barren women, accessible via a quarter mile foot-only trail ...

... as well as the overlook to the Kalaupapa Peninsula and Awahua Beach:

The 2.9 mile trail does indeed descend the precipitous cliff you see in the foreground above and then follows alongside Awahua Beach, ending at the leper colony at Kalaupapa, the town in the forefront of the peninsula.  Here's a helicopter shot of the steep part of the trail taken from a post card followed by my own shot of the route of the trail, taken from the harbor area:

Most people travel this trail by mule, but I've done it four times now on foot -- twice down and twice up.

At the bottom, both times, I joined a tour of the leper colony where Father Damien served and ministered to the ill, eventually catching the disease himself and perishing.  He was canonized on October 11, 2009, just a month after these photos were taken:

Father Damien's grave beside St. Philomena Church in Kalawao
Panorama of Moloka'i's north shore with Okala Island at center
Father Damien mosaic beside St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
Pristine Awahua Beach at the bottom of the 2.9 mile trail, accessible only by foot or mule
I won't extend this post into the other sights and cultural experiences on Moloka'i beyond pointing out my hands-down most authentic Island dining experience - If you stop at only one restaurant on Moloka'i, make it the Kualapu'u Cookhouse - a quaint little spot out in the country where locals gather for music every weekday evening, where the food is Island style with heaping portions, and the service is as laid back as you could hope for:

One of the books I found most helpful to understanding the natural beauty of Molokai was this one, chock full of color photos on every page, written by Ph.D. biological researchers who have scoured the island end to end.  My review is below:

Majestic Molokai: A Nature Lover's GuideMajestic Molokai: A Nature Lover's Guide by Cameron Kepler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a coffee table book in the guise of an ordinary trade paperback. It is full of color photos on every page and text written by scientists who have spent a great deal of time doing wildlife surveys on Molokai and other Pacific Islands. They cover the Island end to end, with heavy emphasis on nature, though the culture and people are also featured. It's a fine insider's look at this most Hawaiian of the Hawaiian Islands.

I have spent nearly two weeks on Molokai on two separate trips twenty years apart, and bought this book on the first of these trips. My first hand experience dovetails with the experiences portrayed by the authors in pictures and text. Although the book is dated (nearly a quarter century old now), and therefore does not discuss some of the more recent issues such as the Molokai Ranch water rights and wind farm issues. But as a guide to the island's enduring culture and natural beauty, it's pretty much timeless. If you're thinking of visiting 'The Friendly Isle', especially if you're going to do some exploring, I'd recommend you pick up this book to help with your planning.

View all my reviews