Friday, 30 April 2010

Empathy : a biological imperative.

Borage Flower, my garden, a haven of careless nurture

Empathy : Standard Definitions

The English word is derived from the Greek word ἐμπάθεια (empatheia), "physical affection, passion, partiality" which comes from ἐν (en), "in, at" + πάθος (pathos), "passion" or "suffering".

The term was adapted by Rudolf Lotz to create the German word Einfühlung ("feeling into") from which the English term is then more directly derived

Wynn Schwartz defines it thus: We recognize others as empathic when we feel that they have accurately acted on or somehow acknowledged in stated or unstated fashion our values or motivations, our knowledge, and our skills or competence, but especially as they appear to recognize the significance of our actions in a manner that we can tolerate their being recognized.

Most definitions express empathy in Anthropomorphic terms, limiting the word to a given cultural assumption.

I intend to extend those definitions to define empathy as a core biological function that enables a level of precision that for most of us is almost unimaginable.

Biological Communication and Precision

Firstly we must to look at how cells communicate. The biology of intra-cellular and inter cellular communication operates from the atomic and ionic level upwards; that is to say at the frequency wavelength of any given atom with a variation of one electron, plus or minus.

It is clear from current scientific observation that all cells communicate; that all cells examine their immediate and distal habitats, gathering information and then acting on that information.

It is also clear that all cellular movement creates an electromagnetic pulse that is strongest closest to the cell, yet extends indefinitely as does a radio signal, getting weaker as it travels. The particular signal appears weaker as other signals, including any background ‘noise’ crowd it out.

Arrays of cells can detect what appear to us to be extremely tiny variations within the electromagnetic spectrum, by a process of averaging the combined signals from each cell, and by stochastic resonance, can use the background ‘noise’ to amplify the minute signal they are looking for.

And example is the sensitivity of the arrays of cells that run the length of a sharks side, that detect electrical energy.

If one took a 1.5 volt battery and place one terminal at the East coast of the Atlantic, and another at the West coast of the Atlantic, the shark would be capable of detecting that signal!

Bacteria exhibit a similar capability, which is extended as they gather in larger and larger self organising groups.

There are many, many examples of this level of precision in nature. In fact, given that natural living processes are built from the ‘grass-roots’, that is to say that minute bacteria are the fundamental building and metabolising agents of all living processes, we can begin to comprehend somewhat the amazing hidden universe of the communications and responses of the myriad of living organisms in any one habitat such as a forest or river or ocean; and even within one larger physical body, such as a grass plant, a tree, an animal of any kind which is a essentially collection of self organised organs all of which work together.

The Human Being : a self organised bag of bacteria

For the human being, we understand now that our bodies are composed of approximately 1 trillion human cells. There are a further 90 trillion bacterial cells that co-habit within and around the human being. These cells are absolutely vital to the functionality and health of the human being. They are of course invisible to the eye. It is possible to state with some certainty that while the framework might appear human, the organism is bacterial.

Thus Empathy as a biological imperative means for me that I can to certain degree comprehend the fundamental dynamics of natural living processes that increase fecundity and generate abundance for all life – it is the innate and intrinsic ability to ‘feel into’ the habitat and all that dwell there to elicit information that is pertinent to the living processes themselves in terms of how they thrive, how they maintain a dynamic equilibrium within a constantly changing environment.

With regard to the human being, research clearly shows that there are two main poles or modes of human society – the egalitarian and the hierarchical, and that the egalitarian has been the predominant mode for most of our existence on Earth.

This makes sense to me, in that there is no proven, discernible hierarchy in the natural world.

Self organisation is the primary mode, involving co-operation from minute to macro habitats. So it is with our bodies. The western concept of ‘mind’ does not operate the body. We call it ‘automatic’ a mechanistic attribution. From what I have written above, it is clear that it is far from being ‘automatic’, rather it is the result of trillions of cells engaged in exploration, communication, and responsive action.

Furthermore the collective conscious intelligence of the bag of bacteria can be sensed by an individual if she or he choses to ‘lose his or her mind’, to set aside that acculturated sense of identity and to experience that range of sensings that emerge into awareness as a result.

Now I would like to look at empathy as a human attribute within the human societal context.

The Empathetic Human Being : The Natural Child

A child gestates for 9 months, living inside his or her mother, as part of her, and is directly linked into her entire being – and lives in absolute empathy with the mother. Twins display an a profound level of empathy, and that emerges from their ‘living together’ in the womb. How could it be otherwise. Their cells are entraining, growing together at the same time.

We know from biochemistry that any chemicals the mother is exposed to are amplified by 100 times when they reach the developing child. This effect was discovered primarily through research into the effects of toxic chemicals such as DDT etc. which are now found in breast milk and in the foetus of most people on Earth, certainly ALL of those born to ‘civilisation’.

We know that the brain development of the baby within the womb is intense, that the growth and organisation of the brain is extraordinarily rapid and complex, and that learning occurs, that is to say that experience within the womb is written into the developing neural structures,

On birth, the baby moves from this deeply connected state, to one of disconnection, of separation.

It is crucial to understand that the new born baby has twice as many neurons in his or her brain as an adult, and that the learning process that writes neural pathways already underway in the womb, is geared for a rapid increase immediately on birth, and that this learning is experiential.

The first learning’s are to do with developing appropriate empathetic neural pathways for life outside the womb.

Egalitarian Biology

In egalitarian societies the mother-child bond is retained as a primary focus from birth onwards, and extends throughout childhood, albeit modulating as the child grows and becomes independent. Thus the child is not separated from the mother, breast feeding is extended, skin to skin contact is maintained. The smells, sounds, movements, sights, tastes and other sensing’s all contribute to the development of appropriate neural pathways. A secure and happy child-mother bond results in hormonal cascades originating from the heart that increase the ability to make connections, to write neural pathways, in effect to learn.

Any stress the child experiences releases cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, which damages the neurons and inhibits the development of the appropriate neural pathways the child requires to complete his or her empathetic learning. Damage or Trauma caused at this stage is relatively difficult to address later on. However there are plenty of examples of children with neural damage in one area of their brain transferring the functions normally assigned to that area, language for example, to another area. This demonstrates the plasticity of the brain and of the child’s learning process, given the appropriate nurturing and environment. Recovery is possible.

The Dominant Culture : a product of damaged empathetic neurology

In the current dominant culture, the child-mother bond is broken in many, many ways, and we see a profound lack of empathy distributed across all sectors of society, from the individual to the collective. Teachers who ‘need’ to ‘control’ a classroom; politicians who demonise an ‘enemy’ and orchestrate wars in which innocent people die and are maimed; religions that proscribe certain behaviours; marketing that resolves around stereotype; racism, sexism, ageism, scientific reductionism, vivisection all require a profound lack of empathy. The money system that coerces us all to work for money to buy food produced for profit so as to enrich a tiny percentage of the people above and beyond all others; the hubris of the elites, the discrimination learned in school and amongst the divided poor all depend upon a lack of empathy that is practically hard-wired.

Colonisation is the process of extirpating the natural societies from any given land base, and replacing that lived experience with ‘progress’ … and is an expression of lack of empathy at it’s core; a lack of empathy for the people and for the land itself, from which those people emerge.

The current ‘crisis’ of the Church, that paragon of Virtue, demonstrates such a profound loss of empathy, that even with the evidence in the clear daylight, those who identify with it, both lay and clerical even still seek to assign blame to anything other than the Church itself, and characterise those who are bringing the sordid evidence to light as their ‘enemies’. And so it goes.

As I pointed out above, empathy is the ability to sense or feel into the world within which one is embedded, and is a skill-set that is intrinsic to all cells and all groupings of cells. It is absolutely a bio-logical imperative of all living beings, and extends across species. It is the basis for appropriate behaviours which enable all life to thrive, to sustain life beyond mere ‘survival’.

The Natural Child : Natural Society

For a natural human being empathy is a core quality, one that enables an accurate ‘reading’ of the habitat, and indeed of other human beings within one’s community. This ‘reading’ is essential to egalitarian ways of living.

The ability to sense what any action one might think upon might have in terms of repercussions of those subject to that action, in terms of feeling that within oneself, is a far greater driver of healthy behaviour that any set of rules or morals. Indeed, rules and morals emerge from a community that lacks empathy. The anthropological research shows this time and time again.

The ability to include rather than exclude information, to gather the widest possible data-set for any experience though sharing perceptions, observations and other sensing’s as well as stored memories is a crucial to the well being of nature based community.

There are many examples of this behaviour that emerge from groups of living beings working together, from bacteria to ants, bees swarming, flocks of birds in flight, shoals of fish and more. It is likely that this level of empathy, of natural precision inheres in all living processes.

It goes a long way to explain the precision and diversity of nature, without recourse to mechanistic explanations which are both crude and inadequate to the task to describing what transpires in living processes, and are most often the result of projections of a certain mindset onto natural processes.

The Heart as a cognitive, sentient organ of perception

Empathy as described above involves the full range of somata-sensory abilities inherent to the human body, and the primary organ in this regards is the heart, amongst other centers such as the 'gut' and various parts of the body, including the standard sensory organs.

The heart is linked directly to the seat of the brain, the region called the amygdala, and the hippocampus and other areas... by 80,000 single neurons (that is there are no breaks or
synapses between the heart and the brain) and signals from the heart reach the brain for processing before even visual signals - thus much is 'felt' even before it is registered.... This has been 'measured' scientifically and is now proven beyond any doubt.

The heart is an electromagnetic transmitter and receiver, emitting an electromagnetic field that is 5000 times stronger than the brains magnetic field, and that encompasses the entire body and nearby surroundings, with an ever extending range, peaking from the skin to about 8 feet, then trailing off into infinity. The heart receives inputs from that immediate area, and can also focus onto and amplify weaker electromagnetic signals.

The heart regulates the brain and all other parts of the body by releasing hormones known as DHEAs and others. This regulation is crucial to the well being of the physical body, and is undermined by focussing on the brain/mind as the seat of consciousness, which forces the body to entrain to the brain and the concept of mind, which is usually the product of  acculturation, and overlays the natural stasis. The old usage of the heart as in 'heart-felt', 'hearty', 'heart broken'  etc etc suggests that in times past there was an awareness of the locus of consciousness in the heart.

While most of us born into the dominant culture would find it quite difficult be truly precise in noticing and determining incoming signals to the heart from the environment, and from other co-habitants, human and non-human, it is absolutely possible to retrain ourselves to do so, though this does indeed take some time, possibly decades. Nonetheless it is a worthwhile path of self exploration and learning. 

To start this process, one needs only to breath gently into one's heart,  and allow the 'mind' to silence, and to sense the entrainment of the body to the heart. If one is looking for information, one needs only to ask "what or how does this feel?" and to allow all the insights, images, senses that follow just to be, noticing them. The feel of being heart centered is deeply pleasant, and grows with practice. It is extremely beneficial for one's physical health.

For further exploration of heart awareness I suggest the Heart Math Institute and the book "The Secret Teaching of Plants : The intelligence of the Heart in the direct perception of nature" BY Steve Harrod Buhner and googling the term 'heart coherence' and 'HRV + Heart'.  A research paper on Intuition and the role of the heart in processing intuition.

And here's a song to go with this piece, it's called The Heart Song.

Kindest regards


Thank you for reading this blog.

"Do what you love, it is your gift to universe."

This blog, like all my other content creation work is not monetised via advertising. If you like what I present, consider sharing my content. If you can afford the price of a cup of coffee or a pint of beer/ale/cider for a few months, please donate via my Patreon account. - donations gratefully received

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Corneilus Radio Show

Hello my friends,

I did a radio show for blogtalk radio show 'bridge to unity' based in Tennesee this Sunday.

The theme was Natural Child, Natural Society. The show ran for 90 minutes. And from my perspective it went really fast.

You can hear it here:

I'd be really interested in any comments you might like to make on the show.

kindest regards
Corneilius Lookwood
'do what you love, it's your gift to the universe' 

Kindest regards


 Do what you love, it's your gift to universe

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Some thoughts on Derrick Jensen

I wrote this as a comment on a piece I came across in a blog that was describing the writers feeling of Derrick Jensen.

The fundamental result of all natural living processes is the improvement of the habitat for all life. If we are the descendants of anything, it is of bacteria. We eat, (every living cell eats..) and we men, women and children, metabolise about 20% of what we eat, we excrete the remaining 80% or so, which is then nutrient for yet more life, in that bacteria and insects eat that excreta and convert it into materials other living organisms, from bacteria to rainforests, can utilise, to make more abundant life.

That result is intentional. The web of living processes is far too complex and precise for it not to be.

Civilisation breaks that fundamental, uses 'resources' for it's own narcissistic 'needs' and leaves mostly toxic materials for which nature has, as yet, no corresponding metabolic processes, thus depriving the habitat from those materials converted into 'resources' and 'waste'. Uranium Tailings.

Trauma and abuse that go unresolved are akin to those toxic by-products of Civilisation, and unresolved trauma tends towards a trans-generational repetition of the cycles of abuse, due partly to the way the developing brain learns the neural pathways of abuse survival and partly because of the conscious actions of Power based abusers.

Jensen points out that empathy for/with the victims of abuse, for our natural selves as children born into this Civilisation (including natural living systems, the children of life) is the starting point for any real change, and that at present that empathy is lacking - mostly because those who are civilised have forgotten how to listen to natural living processes, because we have 'adjusted' or 'adapted' or 'conformed' or identified with the system of abuse by adopting abuse dynamic roles.

When we finally face the truth within ourselves, or as we do so, we become available to natural living processes as advocates and companions.

The does not mean 'going back'. We do not really know yet what that means. We might learn something of what that means if we stop the encroachment of civilisation onto those areas where ancient hunter gatherer societies live as and equal part of the habitat, not on it or even in it (both of which imply some sense of separateness).

We do know that empathy is learned and developed in the womb and as infants, and throughout childhood, and that those learnings are 'written' into the forming 'hardwired' neural pathways and networks, not only in the brain, but throughout the body. We do know that empathy is a superior long-term thrivival 'strategy'.

What we do with that information is up to each of us.

One thing is certain; those who Rule Civilisation, and those that identify with Civilisation, will not help and will obstruct any process of re-naturing with what ever tools they can muster to defend the Civilisation upon which they believe they depend upon.

So it is up to us, to each of us, to re-naturalise our lives, and that response ability cannot be avoided without causing more harm.

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's your gift to universe

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Monday, 19 April 2010

The Truth about Child Abuse: an Open Letter to the Media

The truth is that child abuse and cover-up are not primarily about religion or sex. They are about power

This is a crucial distinction to make.

Abuse, of any kind, is ALWAYS about POWER.

Sexual Abuse is but one part of a spectrum of behaviours that are based upon a desire to use others, to coerce children and people, for some perceived benefit.

And the facts are that those behaviours are learned, they are not innate.

What is being missed by almost all in this matter is that learned behaviours are learned  through experience - and that begs the question : what kinds of experience teach these lessons and what kind of adult rationalises the use of Power in such ways?

For sure, The Pope, and The Irish Government, The Canadian Government and other similar Institutions must be rationalising every decision they are making. That means, with regard to the abuse of children within Institutions of 'care',  they are sitting together around tables and saying "How can we manage this and retain our Power?" rather than saying "This is a dreadful situation for those who have suffered so much, and what can we do to help those people to recover, to feel safe again, and what can we do to ensure that all children are protected from abuse, whatever the situation they find themselves in?"

Those questions can best be answered by those who have survived, and by those who can act as Alice Miller writes, as 'enlightened witnesses'.

There is so much now known about brain development in infancy, early childhood and adolescence; about empathetic parenting; about working through the distress caused by abuse; about how learned behaviours are transmitted across generations that no Government nor any other Institution has any excuses not to implement these learnings.

Therefore it must be the case that those with Power are refusing this knowledge, that they are actively obstructing the processes of revelation and healing, and thus are themselves complicit, often unwittingly, yet in many cases knowingly.

It is time that clarity reigns.

There is so much at stake here, for all parents, all children and indeed our entire community.

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's your gift to universe

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Saturday, 17 April 2010

A Great Day for the Irish, and Catholic Victims Everywhere: Survivors Rally in Dublin for International Action against the Vatican

A Great Day for the Irish, and Catholic Victims Everywhere: Survivors Rally in Dublin for International Action against the Vatican
by Kevin D. Annett

Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (Canada)

Irish media report:  

Dublin, April 15, 2010

"I have a message to the Catholic church today: Get out of my country!"

Kevin Flanagan stood with me and fifty others, including a swarm of all the major media, as he said these words outside the Dail, the Irish parliament, in downtown Dublin today.

Tortured as a child in a Catholic school, Kevin faced the truth unafraid, and shared it with all of us who gathered to confront the state coverup of horrible crimes by the church in institutions across Ireland - and to reveal how these crimes continue.

"My brother Christopher Smith was thrown into a mental institute in Cork by the police for being homeless. They held him there for forty years, and experimented on him with drugs until he died in 2007, a burned out shell of a man. They're still doing that to people, to little kids, in St. Stephen's Hospital in Cork, in Unit 5, right now. Where is the justice?"

So said Mary Smith to our crowd, as national televsion and newspaper media recorded the stories and asked me what I as a Canadian was doing there.

I spoke of how such crimes were international, of children who died in Christian Indian residential schools in Canada, of how there, as in Ireland, the churches responsible have gotten away with murder. And I spoke of how most of the crimes led to Rome, and the Vatican.

At one point, Paddy Doyle, a world-renowned author, pulled his wheelchair next to me, as we unfurled the banner that has flown outside the Vatican, in London, and around the world, declaring "All the Children Need a Proper Burial".

Holding out to me a bundle of children's shoes that were recently hung at another protest by survivors in Ireland, Paddy asked me to carry these shoes as a remembrance of all the children who suffered and died under church control.

Of all the moments I have shared on this long journey, Paddy's offering struck home the hardest. Taking the shoes, I said I would bring them with me wherever I went in the world.

Something seemed to join us all at that moment, and I suddenly knew that, in the midst of the official lies, the corruption, and all the unmarked graves, people like Paddy and Mary and Kevin are part of what keeps the soul of humanity alive. 

Even the police there today felt it. Watching from the entrance to the Dail, two young Gardai approached us as the rally ended, and extended their hands to me.

"I want to wish you luck, Reverend" said one of them.

But that wasn't good enough for all of us. Kevin and John and a few of the best stalwarts hurried to the other side of the Dail after the rally, where an "official" meeting between church and government officials was taking place to plan so-called "compensation" to their victims. As the officials entered the side door, Kevin began berating them with Gaelic fury.

"Shame on you!" he yelled.

"Shame on you murderers! We don't want your blood money! We want you in jail!"

I marveled at the moment, as the church flunkies looked terrified and the policemen smiled, and Kevin allowed himself a rare sense of victory. I marveled at how the same spirit that defied the buggest empire in the world, just blocks away during the 1916 rebellion, lived on in the very hearts and lives targeted for death at a tender age.

Later, over tea and beer, Paddy Doyle announced that he planned to arrest the Pope when he comes to England in mid September. And I fully expect that all five foot two inches of him, a "disabled" man in a wheelchair, will do just that.

Today was more than our sixth "Aboriginal Holocaust Remembrance Day", celebrated now in the land of my ancestors. Today was our resurrection day.

To all the children, and to those we may have protected today.

Note: Kevin Annett will be continuing his European speaking and organizing tour in eight German cities between April 19 and 26.


Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's your gift to universe

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Friday, 16 April 2010

Open letter in response to Hans Kung's Letter to The Catholic Bishops

To The Editors and Correspondents of the Press,

Hans Kung has the courage and the compassion to very publicly reach out, and respond to the pain, grief and cries of the victims of Institutional Abuses perpetrated from within The Roman Catholic Church, in face of direct opposition from the Authority of The Pope. In his letter to all the Catholic Clergy, he calls on ALL Catholic Clergy to come forward in response to the needs of the victims, to openly reject any obstruction to the dual requirements of full open accountability and justice.

Who amongst the Legal and Governmental Authorities of Ireland, Canada and elsewhere has that same courage?

Time and time again, public pronouncements are made by the Irish Government as to their willingness to deal  openly with the Historical Abuses, to give their full support to the surviving victims in their efforts to tell their stories and to at last seek some healing; and yet, time and time again, legalistic and other means are used to inhibit individuals and groups seeking acknowledgement of the crimes perpetrated against them, to thwart open accountability of all those who took part, be they clergy or laity,  to avoid justice and fair reparation for the victims, whose wounds are not so easily healed, whose lives have been blighted through no fault of their own, for whom compensation is less important than understanding, compassion and recognition that their symptoms say more about the abusers and the Institutions entrusted with their care than they do about the victims.

It is time now that all adults of all those communities concerned took their responsibilities to the community and to the children with the seriousness and urgency they deserve, and behave as mature and responsible people.

To not do so sends a terrible message to all our youth, and leaves the living survivors of these widespread Institutional abuses languishing in unspeakable pain, compounded confusion and an abiding aching grief for their lost childhoods.

To not do so is to remain, or in cases of genuine innocence, become complicit in these crimes.

I speak as a victim, as one whose childhood was obliterated by the adults entrusted with my care.

Kindest regards

Corneilius Crowley


Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's your gift to universe

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