Pushing Boundaries with Dr. Thomas R Verny

Dave Pruett PhD, From Ancient Wisdom to the Quantum Universe

December 20, 2022 Thomas Season 1 Episode 26
Dave Pruett PhD, From Ancient Wisdom to the Quantum Universe
Pushing Boundaries with Dr. Thomas R Verny
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Pushing Boundaries with Dr. Thomas R Verny
Dave Pruett PhD, From Ancient Wisdom to the Quantum Universe
Dec 20, 2022 Season 1 Episode 26
Thomas

My guest today is Prof Dave Pruett, former NASA researcher; award-winning computational scientist; emeritus professor of applied mathematics at James Madison University (JMU); the originator of "From Black Elk to Black Holes", a Templeton-award-winning Honors seminar at JMU; and the author of Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit (Praeger 2012, paperback 2016). Reason and Wonder, synthesizes modern scientific insights with ancient spiritual wisdom. 
Prof. Ptuett says he learned a lot from the work of French paleontologist-priest Teilhard de Chardin who held that biological evolution is not directionless. It tends toward greater biological complexity with concomitantly higher consciousness. 
This gave rise to the twin theories of cosmogenesis and complexity-consciousness. Dave also found Jung’s radical theories of the unconscious, synchronicity, and individuation influenced his own theories.
In the present, scientific discoveries, particularly those of Quantum Mechanics, are now beginning to resonate with and reinforce ancient wisdom, wisdom that has been imbedded in indigenous mythologies for millennia. It’s incumbent upon those who have already transitioned to a more sustainable “myth of meaning” to find ways to encourage others along the path.
We talked about mysticism. Teilhard and Jung were mystics. One definition of a “mystic,” paraphrased from theologian Matthew Fox (1991), states simply: A mystic is one who is in awe of the universe.
It’s quite extraordinary that Black Elk and Einstein were contemporaries, even more so that their profoundly different backgrounds and education would lead them to similar views of the universe. The “web of life”—which connects all beings, living and “non-living”—figures prominently in Native American mythology. So too, from Einstein’s general theory of relatively, we learn that the geometry of spacetime is not Euclidean like a sheet of graph paper; it’s warped by the presence of massive objects like stars. The warping of spacetime is dynamic, varying in time. In the great cosmic dance, matter tells spacetime how to warp, and spacetime tells matter how to move. In this dance, the motions of stars or the interactions of black holes send gravitational waves rippling throughout the spacetime web. In both worldviews, the universe is a great interconnected web.

If you liked this podcast

  • please tell your friends about it,
  • subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and/or write a brief note on apple podcasts,
  • check out my blogs on Psychology Today at

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/contributors/thomas-r-verny-md





Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Prof Dave Pruett, former NASA researcher; award-winning computational scientist; emeritus professor of applied mathematics at James Madison University (JMU); the originator of "From Black Elk to Black Holes", a Templeton-award-winning Honors seminar at JMU; and the author of Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit (Praeger 2012, paperback 2016). Reason and Wonder, synthesizes modern scientific insights with ancient spiritual wisdom. 
Prof. Ptuett says he learned a lot from the work of French paleontologist-priest Teilhard de Chardin who held that biological evolution is not directionless. It tends toward greater biological complexity with concomitantly higher consciousness. 
This gave rise to the twin theories of cosmogenesis and complexity-consciousness. Dave also found Jung’s radical theories of the unconscious, synchronicity, and individuation influenced his own theories.
In the present, scientific discoveries, particularly those of Quantum Mechanics, are now beginning to resonate with and reinforce ancient wisdom, wisdom that has been imbedded in indigenous mythologies for millennia. It’s incumbent upon those who have already transitioned to a more sustainable “myth of meaning” to find ways to encourage others along the path.
We talked about mysticism. Teilhard and Jung were mystics. One definition of a “mystic,” paraphrased from theologian Matthew Fox (1991), states simply: A mystic is one who is in awe of the universe.
It’s quite extraordinary that Black Elk and Einstein were contemporaries, even more so that their profoundly different backgrounds and education would lead them to similar views of the universe. The “web of life”—which connects all beings, living and “non-living”—figures prominently in Native American mythology. So too, from Einstein’s general theory of relatively, we learn that the geometry of spacetime is not Euclidean like a sheet of graph paper; it’s warped by the presence of massive objects like stars. The warping of spacetime is dynamic, varying in time. In the great cosmic dance, matter tells spacetime how to warp, and spacetime tells matter how to move. In this dance, the motions of stars or the interactions of black holes send gravitational waves rippling throughout the spacetime web. In both worldviews, the universe is a great interconnected web.

If you liked this podcast

  • please tell your friends about it,
  • subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and/or write a brief note on apple podcasts,
  • check out my blogs on Psychology Today at

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/contributors/thomas-r-verny-md





SUMMARY KEYWORDS
world,  consciousness, universe, science,  mythology, evolution, life, henry, james madison university, dream,  teaching, read
SPEAKERS
Speaker 2 (86%), Speaker 1 (11%) 
1
Speaker 1
0:00
Good morning. This is Pushing Boundaries, a podcast about pioneering research, breakthrough discoveries and unconventional ideas. I'm your host, Dr. Thomas R Verny. My guest today is Professor Dave Pruett, former NASA researcher, award winning computational scientist, emeritus professor of applied mathematics at James Madison University. He is the originator of from Black Elk to Black Holes an Templeton award winning honors seminar at JMU. And he's the author of Reason and Wonder, a Copernican Revolution in Science in Spirit, which was published in 2012. And again in paperback in 2016. Reason and Wonder synthesizes modern scientific insights with ancient spiritual wisdom. Welcome, Professor Dave Pruett. May I call you Dave?
2
Speaker 2
1:06
Certainly, and I hope I can call you Thomas.
1
Speaker 1
1:09
Absolutely. So my question to you is, first of all, is the universe purposeful?
2
Speaker 2
1:20
Well, first of all, Thomas, I'm really honored to be here. And, as you mentioned, I'm an applied mathematician, so I have a foot in mathematics and one in scientist, one in science. So as a scientist, my sense is that most rank and file scientist are agnostic on the question. Is the universe purposeful? That is, it's a question that's really outside of the domain of science. My sense is also that most biologists are atheistic on this question. The late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould stated that evolution was purposeless, non progressive, and materialistic. I would differ with that I actually think you can make a pretty strong case for purposefulness in the universe, and no one that I know have made a better case for that. So should I continue?
1
Speaker 1
2:33
Yes. Oh, please. It's wonderful. Yes, I'm totally fascinated. Yes, please continue.
2
Speaker 2
2:38
Well, if  your listeners are unfamiliar with Teilhard de Chardin, and many people are, he was a French paleontologist of the first rank but also a Jesuit priest. He lived from 1881 to 1955. He was so devout in his faith that he wished to die on Easter Sunday and that that prayer wish, was answered by a massive heart attack on April 10 1955, which was Easter. But as a paleontologist taljaard fully embraced evolutionary theory. He carried a magnifying glass and a geology hammer on every outing. But he saw, the theory is perhaps too narrow. Not only does biological life evolve, but the entire cosmos is evolving. And during his lifetime, for example, we went from believing that the Milky Way was the only galaxy to the recognition that it is one among 100 billion or more galaxies, and that the universe itself is expanding. 
And we have learned that the fusion processes of stars create elements necessary for life and that exploding supernovas spew those elements, and even heavier ones across space. To provide the raw materials for new planets, and new solar systems and new life. So TR coined the term Cosmo-Genesis, to indicate a universe in continual creation. So we might ask When was the moment of creation? And we could answer that many ways. We could say it was 13 point 7 billion years ago, at the advent of the Big Bang. But we could also say it was yesterday. And we could say it's today or even right now. And if creation is ongoing, and there's a corollary that in some small way, you and I are poor. partners in this creative process were helping this universe to evolve. TR believed that evolution wasn't just a theory. But it was a guiding principle of the cosmos. He said it's a light illuminating all facts, to use his words. 

Now, I think at this point in history, most of us are ready to accept the notion of cosmic Genesis that the universe is evolving, that everything changes. But the question is, a deeper question is, is it going anywhere? Is there a direction to that evolution? And again, most evolutionary biologist would probably say no. Evolution is a random walk, that could wander off in one direction, or any other direction. But TR disagreed with this, on earth, at least. And that's the only real evidence we have. Life has slowly evolved from billions of years of one celled organisms to multi celled organisms, to very functionally complex organisms, and ultimately, to very complex or organisms with large brains, like ourselves. Is this just an accident we might ask? 

Well, the basic ingredients of evolution are variation and natural selection. Well, variation is very much a random process. It's based on random mutations, quantum fluctuations within reproductive cells. But natural selection is not really a random process are not fully random. Because it selects for those variations that give us give the organism an adaptive advantage. And higher intelligence is advantageous. So, for this evolutionary process that gives rise to greater biological complexity but along with it, higher self awareness, tr termed a coined the term complexity consciousness or simply in a word complexification. So he's, he's kind of given us two large mega trends that apply to the cosmos as a whole. One of those is Cosmo Genesis, which is sort of the physical cosmos in evolution. But the other is complexification, which is the biological called cosmos also an evolution. And he realized that these megatrends run counter to one another. That is, from a thermodynamic point of view. And this gets complicated. The cosmos is running downhill. It's headed toward heat death. But life, oddly enough bucks, that trend is headed for greater complexity, organization and higher consciousness. 
So this begs another question. Are these counter trends somehow connected? We'll try intuited that the answer to that was yes. But he was really peering over the horizon. He was extrapolating from what from the science he had available to available to him at the time. So he was not able to make that connection firm. And I suspect we don't have time to go into great detail today. But recent scientific developments, particularly in the field of complexity theory, have added more insights. 

And I think one can now conclude or at least the the science suggests that the very running down of the physical cosmos that trend toward heat death, actually is what propels the biological world upward. So these, these two mega trends are greatly coupled. And if that's the case, It's not too much of a stretch, even scientifically to suggest that the universe is indeed purposeful. And that its purpose seems to be the production of higher consciousness.
1
Speaker 1
10:21
Hmm. Very interesting. So, what does higher consciousness mean? What is the meaning? What is higher consciousness as opposed to lower consciousness?
2
Speaker 2
10:39
Well, you're, you're a psychiatrist, and you might, you might split hairs on this more than I do. But TR, more or less used the terms psyche, spirit and consciousness as interchangeable. And he believed that there was a sort of proto consciousness all the way down to the the most basic structural ingredients in the universe, even the elementary particles, that is consciousness all the way down. Now, I know, in psychological circles, sometimes sentience is used as just basic, the basic awareness of the organism of its environment, and the term consciousness would be used for self awareness or awareness of one's own consciousness. But to TR, this was all a great spectrum. From proto consciousness all the way down to self awareness in in the human organism.
1
Speaker 1
12:01
Yeah, I think I would agree with that. There is consciousness all the way down to unicellular organisms. You wrote a paper, finding the Axis Mundi in an Undergraduate Classroom. That was published recently, in August 2022.
 
12:30
It just came out online, actually, this month.
1
Speaker 1
12:34
There we go. So fresh off the presses. Right. Okay. And in it, you say, I'll just read from the abstract, it says, humanity is in a tight race between planetary catastrophe and enlightenment, it's not clear which will prevail. So if we just take those two sentences, if we are moving more and more towards complexity, right? How is it that we are also coming closer and closer to planetary catastrophe? How did those two sort of movements equate? How do we bring those two together? It seems to me it doesn't make sense to say that we are becoming more conscious, which would mean that we can take better care of ourselves and the planet and at the same time, we are becoming so good at destroying it.
2
Speaker 2
13:41
Well, the question you're asking is far above my paygrade. It's almost a question. Why is there evil in the world?

13:50
Yes, that's also a good question. Yes.
2
Speaker 2
13:54
But I and let me go back to TR because he's my touchstone. Okay. As a priest, he could have opted out of service during the First World War. He opted in but as a noncombatant, as a stretcher bearer. And he was although he was Catholic, he served a regiment of Muslim sharpshooters. He spent the entire four or five years in the war in some of the most horrific battles and he saw just tremendous devastation, and brutality and har. Somehow he did not seem to be psychologically fazed by that. And he wrote many of his seminal essays on the battlefield. By the way, he was he was honored for bravery time and time again and I offered promotions which he refused to stay in service and to, to his regimen. But he, he had this huge bird's eye view God's eye view, I should say, of evolution, that it's not a linear process or fits and starts. 

And he recognized that humanity is a very young species and we are still struggling to figure out who we are and where we're going and how to live. And I don't personally have this God's eye view, I mean, I think it takes a much higher degree of consciousness than, than I have, but it tailored was is my touchstone in many ways. But he, sorry, he, he thought that we would eventually find his, our way. And if we don't, something better will succeed as well. 

New Paradigm is emerging, one that emphasizes interconnectedness, the sacredness of all creation, universal consciousness and cooperation. In truth, this new paradigm is anything but new. What's new, is that scientific discoveries are now beginning to resonate with, and reign force, ancient wisdom, wisdom that has been embedded in indigenous mythologies for millennia. I'm wondering whether you could talk about that a little bit about the ancient wisdom and indigenous mythologies.
2
Speaker 2
17:00
Sure, I'll try Thomas. When I was growing up, there was there were rumors that there was Cherokee in my family history. And when I was a child, my mom read to me from the book Hiawatha. It turns out that after a DNA test, there's almost no Native American blood in our family 1% or less, but for reasons I don't understand fully, I've always been had a fascination and respect for Native America and the mythology but the what? Well, among the Lakota people, there's a password passphrase that goes like this, meet Aquila, a Oh, Eosin, Mita, Coolio, Eosin. And it literally translates all my relatives, all my relatives, but the meaning is much deeper than that. The meaning in my understanding is that all things in creation are my relatives.
2
Speaker 2
18:20
So most native Americans that I've encountered, and that I've read about, recognize that there is spirit all the way down that spirit exist, not only in humans, but animals, in plants, even in rocks. And even in the four cardinal directions, that are referred to as a thought of as benevolent beings and referred to in the look by the Lakota by the phrase Tinker Sheila, which means grandfather. Now this this is sometimes been referred to, in a pejorative way is as animism. But what it's my understanding that even though this point of view is was probably loath to most scientists, that science is slowly coming around to this view of the world. And quantum mechanics is largely responsible for that. I mean, science has been built on the subject object divide that goes back to Descartes. There's the thinking world that the race photons and the and the the external world erase extents. And these two things are separate. And so the scientific observer can observe the world without affecting in any way he's completely he or she is completely isolated from the object of observation. 
But the uncertainty principle and other aspects of quantum mechanics tell us that there is no real separation between subject and object at the quantum level. And that the the observer effects the thing being observed in the experiment cannot really be completely set up without the observer in the loop. And if that's the case, then there's no separation. But then the separation between mind and matter is artificial. And some some renowned physicist, for example, I think it was James jeans. If I my memory is correct, you said the universe is beginning to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. And other Roger Penrose and other eminent physicist have posed that psyche must be incorporated into the laws of physics, if physics is to be complete, in some way.
1
Speaker 1
21:50
Very true. Yes, I agree. So on a more, more personal level. How did you move from mathematics into consciousness? What's your What was your personal journey? Like?
2
Speaker 2
22:09
Tell me a little it's a long, long story, but I'll give you the outline of it. I'm what you call a late bloomer, which might not seem to be relevant. But I had great difficulty with what Jung would call individuation. I was slow to mature in to find my place in the world, because of feeling torn between two aspects of my own personality. My rational nature, on the one hand, my love for science, and on the other hand, my intuitive nature and inherit spirituality. And this goes back to my family of origin. And I don't know if we'll talk about that.
1
Speaker 1
22:54
Well, let's Yes. What about your family of origin? Yes, let's talk about it.
2
Speaker 2
22:59
Well, I grew up in West Virginia, on the edge of Appalachia, but not quite in Appalachian. My father was a fault small town physician, he fought in the Second World War. And at the end of the war, he helped liberate a concentration camp at Dachau. Dad was very rational. He was not overtly religious. But he had one of the truest moral compasses of any human being I've ever met, had a great deal of integrity. Mom, on the other hand, was a homemaker that was par for the course in those days. She was quite religious, she went to the same Baptist Church her entire life. And she was also quite intuitive. And like many families, there was a fair amount of dysfunction in mind. And I got caught between those parental poles, the rational on the one hand, and the intuitive on the other. And psychologically, I felt I had to choose one or the other, that I somehow couldn't be both. 

What actually happened is I wound up flip flopping back and forth between the poles and so I didn't really settle until mid life. I got my PhD at 38. Married 39 and became a father at 47. So I'm a really a late bloomer. And I really, really struggled to integrate these, the rational intuitive pole in my life, and sort of the best I could do with that. I'd on my own was teaching mathematics because particularly applied mathematics because that satisfied both my scientific nature but I also find mathematics is almost magical. And it's teaching is very service oriented so it was satisfying spiritually as well. But I had great fortunate midlife to stumble on a mentor, or maybe stumble is the wrong word in retrospect, it seems quite synchronous. And his name was John Yungbloot. And he helped me to realize that what I thought was a personal struggle to integrate these parts of my personality was actually had a name. And he called it the struggle of the mystic. And the struggle, the mystical, the quintessential mystical struggle is to try to bring together two parts of the personality that threatened to tear one apart. And John himself had gone through this struggle. But he was also a student of young and a student of TR. So he introduced me to both of those. 

And then try in particular, thought that he had to choose between scientific nature, which also came from his father, and his spiritual nature, which came from his mother. And fortunately, he also, there is a wise priest that he went to see that said, who said, no, no, no, don't choose be faithful to both of them. And it was Mary Louise von Franz, the protege of young who said, 

If we can live with this tension of opposites long enough, we can give birth to something that's wholly new, that transcends the opposites. And Tayyar did that. And John, my, my mentor, also was able to do that. Jung did that. And so I began to realize that what I thought was an interior, just my own personal struggle was actually societal. And particularly in the US with there's great contention between science and religion, science and spirituality. And so I began to, at the time I started thinking about this, I was actually working. My first academic job had not worked out well. So it was at NASA Langley Research Center doing aerospace research. But I began to fantasize for going about going back into the classroom, and offering an honors course. And oddly enough, the title came to me and wholecloth me, and that happens to me frequently. And everything proceeded from that. And the title was from Black Elk to black holes, shaping a myth for new millennium because we were on the cusp of the new millennium.
2
Speaker 2
28:30
And I wasn't even in the classroom at that time. So in 1996, I got an offer from James Madison University. I had a short tenure clock, because of previous experience, so I was tenured in a couple of years. And after I got tenure, I went to the Honors Program and said, Here's a course I would like to teach and I expect it to be laughed off the stage. The Honors director at that time was Joanne Gabin, who is a force of nature. And she's the founder of the Furious Flower, which is an organization that promotes black poetry. And she didn't laugh me off the stage. She was actually quite, quite supportive. My department was quite supportive, and my colleagues were supportive, which I never expected. And I think part of that's because of the kind of institution JM James Madison University is our bread and butter  is really undergraduate teaching. And so there's a lot of collegiality and a reasonable lack of ego. 

Just to give you an example, a physics colleague, a dear friend, who would probably characterize himself as An atheist or agnostic, said, Dave, it's not for me. But I want you to be aware of the Timothy Templeton Foundation science and religion course. And I think you ought to apply for it. So doing so basically, this dream course that I had came to fruition in the spring of 1999. And as I looked out over the 21, eager and very shining, intelligent faces, I was overcome by emotion, joy at at the opportunity and abject terror because I had no idea what I was doing at that point. It was really a leap of faith into uncharted waters. So I had to listen to my better angels, and my better angels said, Dave, just be honest with the students. So on the very first day of class, I said to them, I think I have a book in me. And I think that teaching this course will help me to write it. And that actually turned out to be a true statement. But it was really naive because it was 13 years from that point, until my book reasoning wonder, appears in print. But a funny thing happened during that confession. The students realized that this was not your ordinary course, that we were on a journey together, and the destination was not predetermined. And so I got an immediate buy in from day one. 

And to make a long story short, that course succeeded beyond my wildest hopes and dreams. It touched many students lives it touched my life. I taught the course, seven times total. I did receive a science religion course award in 2001, I received the provost first award for excellence in honors teaching a few years later. And the premise, the premise of the course was to look at the cosmos from diametrically opposed points of view, from a scientific point of view on one hand, and a mythological point of view, on the other hand, so even though the course got an award as a science and religion course, it was an intentionally, a science and mythology course. And that was to avoid some of the pitfalls of talking about religion. Religion is based often on dogma and on creed. And on absolute truth. 
Mythology is based on metaphor. And no one takes metaphor literally. But mythology also gives us access to great spiritual truths. So the mythology in the course came, was focused on Native American mythology. And it came from the great American Classic Black Elk Speaks, and that hence the title of the course from Black Elk to black holes. So from Native American mythology to modern science. And the idea is, Can we can we possibly find any points of Nexus any commonalities between these vastly different worldviews?
1
Speaker 1
34:08
As thing, wonderful. So, you said that you have taught this course for seven years, seven consecutive years?
2
Speaker 2
34:19
No, I taught it seven times between 1999 and 2017. Oh, but last time I taught it, I was actually in retirement. But the honors program allowed me to teach it one more time.
1
Speaker 1
34:34
So have you stayed just me have you stayed in touch with any of the students
2
Speaker 2
34:41
I've stayed in touch with quite a few more, more percentage wise and then would be normal.
2
Speaker 2
34:53
One, Rusty from who lives in Charlottesville now is goes back to the first Course in 1999. Jessa lives in Zurich, Switzerland and invited me to a science and religion conference about three years ago. I just got an email this week, from a student who took the course in 2017, I'm not going to use her name. She she wrote because of a family trauma, she had just lost a sister. And she is, doesn't consider herself a religious person. So she was writing for some kind of reassurance, that something about our spirit, our soul survives bodily death.

35:57
And she ended her email with probably the best compliment I've ever gotten in my life. She said, The course was in is my church. So it, it spoke to her deeply. And the first time I taught the course, a student wrote on the course evaluation,
2
Speaker 2
36:30
she wrote, is it appropriate to write on a course evaluation that this course touched or changed my life? It did. So I, it's not uncommon for me to get an email out of the blue five or six years later, from a student expressing their gratitude for the course. And one of the key components was a journal that students kept journals and in the journal was, for them to process various aspects of the course and some of the ideas that came up could challenge their conventional notions or there can be competing ideas coming up in class or might, they might challenge some sacred cow. But a characteristic of honors students is the ability to live with ambiguity. More so than the average student. And so I kept telling the students that these journals were for them, not for me, and it took a long time to convince them of that fact. But eventually, you could see a sea change and what they wrote and I think many of them look back on those journals and and then it helps them retrieve aspects of the course that meant something to them. And when I read the journals, for the first time, I was just astounded I. I came in, I had read them for the first time during spring break. And I came in after spring break and said this was a sacred experience. And it was it gave me a window into the soul of students that I had had never been opened before and it was not something to be taken lightly.
1
Speaker 1
38:45
So may I ask how has it affected you your life, your outlook, your personality

38:57
I grew up in a world that was originally pretty small. As I said, I grew up on the edge of Appalachian
2
Speaker 2
39:14
I didn't travel very much until mid life and I usually stayed pretty close to home. I went to graduate school for a master's degree at the University of Virginia went to Virginia Tech as an undergrad. But I will just confess to you that at age 34, I had a major depression and looking back it was one of the best things that ever happened to me because I I was just trying to live inside a skin that was too small my worldview was much too small. And on the flip side of that, I wound up going to the University of Arizona for graduate school, which was a big leap for me. So my world began to open up there. But that opening process has continued. And I think teaching the course, not only helped me to open up the worldviews of the students, but it opened up my own worldview. And I just became exposed to things that I'd never thought about before. Or if I had my scientific nature would have just slough them off as not rational in some way. 

Out of the clear blue, after teaching, after getting the Templeton science and religion course award, I got a book from someone I didn't know called the intuitive heart. It was written by Dr. Henry Reed, who was a maverick psychologist. And Henry had gotten my name from the awardees of the Templeton award. And he sent his book to every one of them, apparently, and I'm the only one who responded. I read it. And I thought that this book is written on two very different levels. And on the surface level, it's all about intuition. On the surface level, it's written for every everybody. But it was sitting on this tremendous iceberg of of depth. And so I contacted Henry about that. And he says, yep, Dave, you're right. And he invited me to this workshop on dreaming in Sedona, Arizona, this is I think, 2002 we're gonna make a long story short, Henry, who's now a dear friend and not in very good health. He pioneered an experience called the dream helper ceremony, which is an experience in intentional dreaming for altruistic purposes. And he pioneered this with Robert Van der Castle, who was in the psychology department at the University of Virginia. And Henry has offered this experience hundreds of times and I participated in it six different times. 

But in many ways, it is, to me the closest thing we have to the closest, very validate validation, we have to the idea of some form of universal consciousness or, or as Jung would say, a collective unconscious perhaps. So very briefly, this experience happens in groups of eight or 10. And a person, one person volunteers to be the focus person who's dealing with some life issue. They don't reveal what the life issue is. And the other participants promise to have a dream for that person. That will help them in some way. And it sounds very woowoo. 

Two interesting things happen that cannot be refuted. Whatever you think of the experience, these cannot be refuted. Making, when one makes that prom promise, the incidence of remember dreams goes up from about 25%, which is normal to 95% or better. And the second thing which Henry realized during a presentation at a conference at the University of Virginia, is that at all the times he had led this experience no one had ever asked the obvious question, how do you dream for another person? No one had ever asked that. And everybody who participates in the experience is really scared. Isn't you would think everybody is scared? Because they wonder what happens if I don't have a dream? What if I let down the other person? And what you find when you participate in this is that the mosaic of dreams More often than not, yes, speak directly to the issue of the focus person. 

Now, I would not have had the openness to participate in this, I don't think if I had not part of his course and written this book, and which both helped open me up. And actually, I brought Henry to the honors course on three different occasions to lead this experience. It was for the students, for a few colleagues, not many colleagues accepted, and also for, for the community. And several students said that this was the the most meaningful group experience of their entire lives. And, and we, of course, this being very out of the ordinary, we kept evaluations to make sure that it was that this process was well received. And it was.
1
Speaker 1
46:15
And you say that this gentleman now is in ill health.
 
46:19
Yes, he. He's a few years older than I am. And he'snow struggling with some cognitive issues. But my wife once asked me who's the smartest person I ever met? And I don't know why she asked that, because that's not like her to ask a question like that. But after thinking and thinking, I said, Henry rate, he's brilliant. And even with if he even if he's experiencing some climbing cognition, he has a tremendous amount to offer. He was actually recently interviewed a year or two ago by Jeffrey Mishlove. Oh, yes, I know him. I think you interviewed him. I did. So that's just one example of how I've been opened up.
1
Speaker 1
47:29
Well, since we are talking about your openness, I also understand that you are a poet.
2
Speaker 2
47:37
From from time to time I, the muse strikes, and during the pandemic, I needed a project. And so I published a little book, and basically a collection of old poems. And I didn't have enough of those. So I made it a photographic essay and include some photographs. It's called earth tones.
1
Speaker 1
48:06
Would you would you mind reading one of your poems for us? 
Well, there's one that's really relevant to today. And it was written in 2020. It's the only poem that was written recently, and the title is, what a world needs what a world needs and I'm going to get a sip of tea here.

48:30
Oh, yes. By all means. Yes.
2
Speaker 2
48:35
What a world needs. Gravity is cool. The disarming title of a whip smart paper by iconoclast physicist Freeman Dyson. I met him once the paper his parting gift. Gravity is cool, spooky action at a distance mystifying even to Einstein tethers planets to their stars, each Keplerian orbit, one beat of a celestial clock, ticking out the eons of deep time. While evolution slow cooks it's magical stew on spaceship Earth, and most probably on every other Goldilocks wonder and 100 billion galaxies. But gravity runs hot to when it crushes dying stars igniting supernova that vaporize Sun 10 times greater than our own spewing carbon, oxygen, iron, even uranium across light years of quantum foam. The Stardust of which I am it together and you two are wrought. And the oak and the shark and the otter. What then doesn't world need chaos by God and order devastation and rejuvenation, fleeting creativity and fabulous drudgery. A pinch of the former and a neutron star tablespoon of the ladder. Both the legacy of gravity's cosmic dance, the core sacrificial act of a universe's ceaseless labor to flower beings sufficiently awake to enjoy the show. Though not yet awake enough to thank our lucky stars, or to treasure this shining orb called home.
1
Speaker 1
51:10
Great, just absolutely great. Well, David, it has been a real pleasure speaking with you., May I just remind  our listeners of Dave Pruett's fantastic book, Reason and Wonder, a Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit. And if you want to learn more about ancient spiritual wisdom, and modern scientific insights, read this book and learn and change for the better because the world certainly needs that. May I say David, once again, thank you so much for participating with me in this conversation. And I wish you best of luck in all your future endeavors. Take care bye bye.

52:07
Thank you. Thank you so much.