By Dr. Bruce Lipton
My book The Biology of Belief provided insight into the nature of how our consciousness controls both our genetics and our behavior. Although programmed to believe ourselves frail and vulnerable, we are learning instead that the power of healing has always been within us, for not only do our personal beliefs affect our personal lives but our collective beliefs physically manifest our collective reality.
The upheavals that we presently see in our civilization represent a giant force of evolution that’s in motion. When we focus on any one of the current crises alone, we run the unfortunate risk of missing the forest for the individual trees, failing to recognize that all these crises collectively represent the evolution of community, not of the individual. What we’re evolving now is a super organism called humanity and a reality in which all of us know ourselves to be cells in the body of one living organism, the planet.
The eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee talked about civilizations as having life cycles. In an individual life cycle, something begins, develops, matures, and declines. Toynbee said that a newly forming civilization is like a child who is experiencing and trying new things. This would be a civilization’s period of early development. Next, a civilization begins to adopt the beliefs that work for it, and once it holds on to those beliefs, it enters a period of rigidity. This is akin to the child doing all the experimental stuff but then coming up against the wall of a parent saying “This is the way it is” and internalizing that message.
But there’s a problem with this rigidity: The universe is continuously and dynamically changing. So trying to hold on to a belief leads to challenges that are the result of not being flexible enough to bend with the currents of change. What is rigid begins to decline.
Civilizations have always come and gone. Our particular cycle is unique, however, because we’re not just ending a civilization, we’re also ending a complete stage of evolution. We also have the potential to jump into another stage of evolution, but I must emphasize that we have the potential. We cannot tell the outcome. We may or may not make it, and we must really own that. This doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to see how we might be able to survive but that we should be all the more active in trying to do so.
A Failure of Belief
In a brief review of the timeline of civilizations, we begin with the peoples who lived in harmony with the earth and understood the nature of the planet as both material and spiritual. This is the belief system of animism, which, for example, the Native American Indians, the Druids in England, and the Aborigines in Australia share. When animism faded, polytheism emerged. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans created cultures based on the existence of many gods. Monotheism then replaced polytheism, and Judeo-Christian monotheism prevailed for some time until Charles Darwin introduced a scientific understanding of the nature of life. We’re still living with that belief system, scientific materialism, which views matter as the essence of the universe. Scientific materialism, however, is on its way out, and its civilization is presently ending. The new civilization that is emerging is not just a new civilization but a complete jump in evolution, to something far different than has yet existed on this planet.
A culture’s character is determined by its answers to the perennial questions: Why are we here? How did we get here? How do we make the best of being here? Throughout history, different civilizations have had different answers to these questions. Whenever the answers changed, culture also changed to accommodate the new answers. We call the belief system in these answers the basal paradigm of a civilization, its fundamental ideas. Whoever provides the answers for a civilization also becomes the provider of all other truths for that civilization. So, as the answers change, the truths change, and people’s belief in who bears the truth changes, changing the character of cultures over time.
With animism, the earliest peoples recognized the physical world and an influential invisible world, and a good example is the Native American belief system. How did they answer the perennial questions? We come from Mother Earth and Father Sky. Why are we here? We’re here to tend the garden and to keep harmony in it. How do we make the best of it? We learn to live in balance with nature. For thousands of years, this is the way life was lived. The Native American belief that we come from Father Sky and Mother Earth is actually a scientific reality. We got here because the inorganic material, the chemistry of Mother Earth, interacted with the sunlight from Father Sky and beget the organic chemistry of living systems.
Beliefs changed, however, at about 4000 bce, when the era of polytheism began. Polytheism took the spirit out of matter, whether it was people, animals, or raindrops. Spirit was still acknowledged, but it was coalesced into gods who
were viewed as separate from matter. People started to emphasize the spiritual elements of the gods and looked less at the relevance of matter, believing the spiritual realm to be more powerful. Before the material world existed, they claimed, there was energy. It was chaotic, and then that chaos precipitated the material realm. This is what quantum physicists tell us. So the ancient Greeks beliefs held some deep scientific insight. Although the polytheists didn’t bother too much about why we are here, they did arrive at an understanding about making the best of existence: Don’t anger the gods. That was wonderful advice for people who believed the gods could shapeshift. You didn’t know if the person sitting next to you was a god or not, so everybody had to be careful not to anger the gods disguised among them. It was best to live in honor and harmony with everyone.
Four thousand years later, Judeo-Christian monotheism took hold and moved people even deeper into the spiritual realm, now regarded as the beautiful realm, the realm of perfection. Monotheists took spirit off of the planet and put it somewhere “up there.” They also gave people commandments for getting there. The first rule was not to get caught in the trap of matter – in other words, by enjoying this physical life, which is removed from spirit up there. The Judeo-Christian devaluation of matter and the physical plane, however, is reverse biology. Evolutionary biology says that when you do something good for the biological system, it feels good, and when you do something bad for the system, it feels bad. But Judaism and Christianity taught people to avoid getting caught in anything physical or material that feels good. Anything that felt bad became a sign that you were in the right place.
To the question of how got here in the first place, monotheists answered, by Divine intervention. God put the spirit of life into us. Why are we here? To live out plays of morality from which we can learn how to get off this planet with a ticket to go up there. How do we make the best of life on earth? Live by the laws of The Bible. If you need guidance on the laws, turn to the priests, who are connected to the source. Basically what happened, though, is that the concept of infallible knowledge, of absolute knowledge, meant absolute power, and that power corrupted the church, which led people to turn away from its doctrines. At this point the Protestants came in with a different idea: Material possessions aren’t damned but a sign that you are in favor with God. That’s when civilization moved back toward the material realm, although this didn’t change things much because many of the same answers still applied, only with a different leadership.
Civilization changed again during the Reformation when the church was challenged by several entities, including science, and during the Age of Enlightenment, which offered a new belief system, deism. French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau talked about a utopian world and the potential of living on this planet in a harmonious way. His ideas were based on his studies of the culture of American Indians. During the Age of Enlightenment, people honored the idea of the noble savage, of a man free to be on the land and to create what he could from his own endeavors. The founding fathers of the United States were deists, and the founding of the United States represented a way to live learned from the American Indians, who had an American “united states” for hundreds of years that they called the Iroquois Nation. The rules of the Iroquois Nation informed the writing of the U.S. Constitution. The first sentence of the Declaration of Independence states that the country is founded on the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” – not Christianity. Like the American Indians, the founding fathers saw God and nature as one and the same. All of them were scientists in the sense that they understood that if you study nature, you know more about God.
But that glorious moment of time was fleeting, and it didn’t change the basal paradigm. There was no new answer yet for the perennial question of how we got here. That showed up a hundred years later when Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution, and a new civilization began. Science now had a valid understanding of how we got here, which many people, who were raising animals at the time, accepted based on their own observations. They saw that indeed the parents’ traits were passed on to their offspring and that every now and then you get a “weirdo” and that weirdo can create something different. When Darwin said that we got here through accidents of evolution – a change of genetics creating weird organisms that followed on their own path and together led to all the species – that made more sense to people than the story of Genesis. Within ten years of 1859, civilization changed, and scientific materialism emerged. It had new answers for the perennial questions. How did we get here? Through random mutations. Why are we here? We are accidental tourists on the planet. How do we make the best of it? We are living in a struggle for existence that is based on the survival of the fittest. This is a key issue because it says we must go out there and work like crazy because if we don’t, somebody else will beat us and kill us in the process.
The problem with scientific materialism is that it offers an end but no means. It’s the law of the jungle. The means to survival are any way you can get there. You can use your brain and be Einstein or you can use an Uzi and be a brute. Either means can make you a leader. It’s a civilization based on competition, not morality. This is the environment we live in right now. Newtonian physics also failed to address the invisible realm that religion talks about; one doesn’t need the spiritual realm to understand the material realm. As a result, people in this culture accumulate as much material as they possibly can to beat everybody else in the race for survival. Die with the most toys, and you win the game. And the consequences? We have decimated the planet.
As Below, So Above
Something else to consider here is that all the different sciences are connected to each other in building blocks that cement their belief systems. The foundation of all science is mathematics. On top of that is physics; you can’t have physics without mathematics. Physics leads to an understanding of chemistry, and chemistry to an understanding of biology. When you understand biology, you can get into psychology. These are the building blocks of our belief system, and it is predicated on Newtonian physics, which says that matter is primal. So we’re living in a world where the prize is a Humvee!
This whole belief system is changing, however. It began to change when it went a little deeper. In 1953, the concept of a “potential” gene became real when scientists identified DNA. I remember the headline in the paper: “Secret of Life Discovered.” A chemical – well, what do you expect in a chemical, material world? We bought into the gene story and determined there’s one last thing we must do: the Human Genome Project.
But between 1953 and 2001, while the Human Genome Project was under way, people started pulling away from the conventional medical profession. It wasn’t fully working for them, and they began to explore alternative methods. We’ve learned that 50 percent or more of the population seek an alternative, complementary, or integrative medicine doctor over a conventional doctor. People have lost belief in the system. And then the Human Genome Project pulled the rug out. It was supposed to verify the model that genes create life and to show us the more than 150,000 genes involved, but the project finished with only 23,000 genes. Something was amiss.
So the reality is that at this very time there is an upheaval. People are looking for new answers, and what we are discovering reveals something totally different about life. For example, a biology predicated on Newtonian physics, which is mechanical and physical, looks to something physical – that is, chemicals and drugs – to understand disease and healing. But a new scientific reality, quantum physics, says that everything is made out of energy. It is primal to matter and shapes matter. Another myth of material science is that genes control biology, making us victims of our heredity. The new science of epigenetics, however, says that genes do not control our life; our perceptions, emotions, beliefs, and attitudes actually rewrite our genetic code. Through our perceptions, we can modify every gene in our body and create thirty thousand variations from every gene just by the way we respond to life. In short, we are leaving behind a reality of victimization (by our genes) and moving into the reality that our mind – our consciousness, the immaterial realm – influences our experience and potential.
Another myth: Survival of the fittest. Nature doesn’t give a damn about the fittest. You can tell Mother Nature about Einstein, Da Vinci, and Mozart, but Mother Nature will say, “That’s nice, but the rest of your species are destroying the planet, so I don’t care if some of you were nice.” The new theory of evolution is based on cooperation and community, not Darwinian individualism. Our erroneous theories and belief systems have us killing one another and robbing the earth, when it turns out that according to the new science, such competitive, survivalist behavior is precipitating catastrophe. We haven’t understood the nature of community.
The last myth we have to reckon with is evolution as a random process. We didn’t get here by accident. Fractal geometry, a mathematical understanding of the universe, is revealing the truth of the spiritual maxim “as above, so below.” Fractal geometry demonstrates the scientific nature of that belief system, showing that images repeat themselves throughout life.
Back to the Beginning
The beliefs we have been living by are wrong. Fractal mathematics says: There is a pattern in the world, and there is a pattern to your evolution. Quantum physics says: Don’t focus on the material, focus on the immaterial realm. Energy is primal. The rule is that if a science on the lower part of the building changes its belief system, every science above that building block must incorporate it. Biology and psychology have not adopted the new understandings of mathematics and physics; they are out of scientific context and no longer scientific. Quantum biology, however, a new science, examines how energy affects biology, and consciousness is that energy. As for psychology, a material psychology based on chemistry and drugs needs to be replaced by energy psychology. We heal ourselves with our thoughts, our mind, our consciousness, which are more powerful than chemistry. It’s the invisible, immaterial realm that’s powerful.
Galileo said, “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” Our civilization is changing to align with new holistic beliefs. In holism we again recognize Mother Earth and Father Sky as our creators, but we also understand that we got here through adaptive mutation to fit into the garden. Our purpose here is to tend this garden and to acquire awareness because that’s our part in evolution. And to make the best of our existence, we live in balance with nature, evolving a technology that allows us to live on this planet with the smallest possible footprint.
What we’re beginning to learn is that we are cells in a larger organism. At this moment – just like what’s happening in the bodies of many people on this planet – the earth is experiencing autoimmune disease, where the cells in the body are killing each other, and if we don’t learn fast enough, we are not going to make it. Those of us looking for new answers are the future of a new evolution. We are experimenting and investigating how we might create a better life. The only way out is an evolution, and an evolution means undoing the previous structure. So don’t be afraid of the current structure falling apart; it’s a necessary step to get us to the next level. Don’t go into the future with fear but with the promise and reality of fractal geometry. We are returning to the original condition of wedding spirit with matter, the immaterial and material planes, and we will live in this garden with peace and harmony.
This article is from a presentation given by Bruce H. Lipton at the 2009 IONS International Conference and edited by Vesela Simic. Lipton’s most recent book, co-written with Steve Bhaerman, is called Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There from Here (Hay House, 2010).