Craig Weiner, DC, interviews Larry Dossey, MD
How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters
David Bohm, the great twentieth-century physicist, said that “deep down, the consciousness of mankind is one, and if we don’t see this, we’re blinding ourselves to it.” It’s not just the sense of connectedness that people experience and are transformed by; the other thread is the sense of profound love that comes with that sense of unity.
I recently had the privilege of reading the newly released book One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters, and interviewing its author, Dr. Larry Dossey. He is one of the foremost experts on mind–body–spirit healing and is the author of The Power of Premonitions, Healing Words and ten other books. In One Mind, Dr. Dossey explores both the scientific and the personal; it is drawn from stories, anecdotes, and research from his own life and career, as well as those told by some of the world’s greatest philosophers, physicists, and poets. One Mind is a book about the interconnectedness of all beings, of an infinite consciousness that is beyond space-time and accessible to all sentient beings. It is the place where mind, energy, quantum laws, and non-local healing come together in one matrix continuum.
I interviewed Larry after his Premonitions book came out, and my respect for him has only grown over time, as he stands at the forefront of where science and spirituality meet. As the editor of an important scientific journal, he uses his voice and his pen to break through barriers of prejudice and skepticism. He is able to reach the ears of those in the bastions of science and medicine who most need to hear the message that it is time for a revolutionary paradigm shift in our healthcare systems. I have chosen excerpts of the hour-long interview to give a more personal view of how the book came to fruition, and Larry Dossey’s hopes and dreams for how it may serve as an agent of change.
CRAIG: Larry, why this book, and why now?
LARRY: Well, I guess I could call it an autobiography, because there’s so much personal stuff in there. I just wanted to get a lot of things out and in print, things that have been gestating for decades. This is my twelfth book, and it is sort of a summation of the things that I began to write about as early as the 1980s, when my first book, Space, Time & Medicine was written. I could say that it’s sort of an update on everything that’s happened in my life and my journey and my path up until the present time.
CRAIG: This is not a new concept; it has been around for thousands of years. Do you think that there is a new listening out there for your take on this cosmic soup concept?
LARRY: For me, the one mind is a way that consciousness has of manifesting when it goes beyond any confinable limit. When one mind appears to be without boundaries and behaves in a way where you clearly can’t put it in a box like the brain or the body and keep it there, then it appears to be boundless and without any demarcations. If that is so, then it makes sense that in some dimension, the individual minds come together and form a connected unity in which all minds participate. I think this is cold, hard logic. If something can’t be restricted, then it blends with other things of its own kind.
This is what we see with consciousness. The entire book is devoted to exploring not just people’s experiences of being united and at one with everything, which is probably the most generic mystical experience in the history of the human race. This one-mind idea comes out of an increasing number of experiments that have been done over the years that show there are no boundaries to consciousness. I think the model of the one mind is a natural extension of all that evidence.
You are quite correct that the model is not new. It goes back for thousands of years. The Akashic record was a model that affirmed this. Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious would fit also. But the reason I like the one mind is because it’s so simple, it escapes a lot of the religious baggage that has accumulated around this idea over the ages. I think it’s a refreshing, modern way to look at it.
CRAIG: Can you help me bring this big idea to a more personal level?
LARRY: I think everybody has either experienced a one-mind moment or is on the verge of it. I just got an email today from an airline pilot and he told me about his one-mind moment. He said that he was minding his own business, reading a book (he didn’t disclose the title), but all of a sudden, he had what many people call an epiphany. He said suddenly he felt himself getting really warm all over, and he felt a sense of being connected with everything in the universe. Airline pilots aren’t noted for being very “woo-woo” and undisciplined, and he said this was one of the most majestic experiences he’s ever had in his life.
It’s a classic one-mind experience. These things usually don’t happen to people who are having near-death experiences; they usually occur to people who are quite healthy, and this was a very typical example that many people have. The one-mind moment is the sense of being at one with all there is. There’s something else that this pilot said, which is classic. The sense of being connected with everything is usually marinated in a sense of profound love and compassion. So, there you have it. There are a million iterations and nuances of this, but that’s basically the skeleton of what a one-mind experience is.
CRAIG: Let me explore with you an idea that I believe most people accept, which is some sort of interconnectedness between all living things. You write of that, but you go much further. You speak of the interconnectedness of “mind” and “consciousness,” which may or may not be different. You point to a kind of collective space that we can hook into for information, knowledge, insight, and creative inspiration. That’s different than just feeling connected. Maybe you could tease that out and describe that for me.
LARRY: Yes, I think that one of the implications of the one mind has to do with creativity. There are many examples in the book, where people appear to retrieve information beyond any preparation or prior experience that might explain it. There are many people who have talked about the practical benefits of minds that might come together. One is that you can imagine a pool of information that might be available if all minds cohere and unite and connect, and creative people might just be those individuals who learn how to access that.
One example I use in the book is the great inventor Thomas Edison, who said, “I never create anything.” This is kind of a jaw-dropper, because we all think that he created a bunch of things, including electric motors, moving pictures, the phonograph, the electric light bulb, and so on. It seems outrageous that he would say he never created anything. But he went on to say that he gets ideas not from his inner man, but from the universe. He said, “I get ideas from the outside.”
This idea that creative people can access some dimension that’s outside their own inner logic is one that recurs over and over again with people who have become quite famous in science. There’s a string of artists, mathematicians, and physicists that I quote in the book who believe in this idea of an outside reservoir of information that they can learn to tap into.
One I talk about in the book is Erwin Schrödinger, who is one of my great heroes in physics. Schrödinger won the Nobel Prize in 1933 for something called the Schrödinger wave equations. Schrödinger is on record as saying, “In truth, there is only one mind.” And David Bohm, the great twentieth-century physicist, said that, “deep down, the consciousness of mankind is one, and if we don’t see this, we’re blinding ourselves to it.”
CRAIG: In your book, you reference the term “collaboratory.” Given the challenges that we are facing globally right now on so many levels, I wonder if this may be a possible remedy for the individual helplessness that is being felt as an obstacle to effecting any real global change. Whether we are talking about global warming, water monopolization, or over-consumption of natural resources, people are feeling overwhelmed by large political and corporate forces. Do you think the concept of one mind could come into play here?
LARRY: I think so. One of the reasons I wanted to address this idea of a collective unconscious and a unified aspect of who we are is, because we do feel helpless when we face some of the major challenges that are out there. We can change our light bulbs and turn down the thermostat, but in the end, it’s not going to make the big difference that needs to happen if we’re going to confront the major challenges that we face.
The one-mind idea is a way out of that sense of helplessness and isolation, because it multiplies far beyond anything arithmetical. When you talk about the one mind, one mind plus another mind is more than two minds. This is an exponential, alchemical sort of thing. It’s not purely arithmetically additive. I think that pooled minds are the way to go. It certainly helps us get out of our sense of isolation and helplessness, and it also spurs us to action.
One way this works is that there’s no evidence that consciousness is limited to human beings. I think it involves any sentient creature, and the one mind helps us sense a connectedness with all sentient life. If we do that, we’re more likely to love all of life on earth, and not confine our compassion just to other human beings, as valuable as that may be. So it spurs us to action. As the novelist Alice Walker said, “Anything we love can be saved.” The question for us in our challenges, ecologically and environmentally, is how much do we love it? How much are we willing to do in order to preserve it? The one mind opens a door to greater activity than any of us can muster as long as we are feeling isolated and working alone.
CRAIG: Larry, you speak of love as a force. I cherish that; and yet you are the editor and publisher of a significant scientific journal. Love is not a term that seems to be garnering a lot of research dollars in the scientific community as a healing intervention. In your book, you discuss the “pathological disbelief of scientists.” How does a society address the concepts of love and interconnectedness and consciousness and make them relevant in a society that is often led by scientific disciplines?
LARRY: I think we need to do something to make it more feasible for scientists to come out of the closet and stop posturing about the absence of the importance of love and compassion and what goes on in this world. I happen to be very interested in some of the surveys that have gone on among physicians nationwide about what they really believe about how connected they are, and the importance of love and compassion in the everyday practice of medicine and surgery.
As it turns out, if you ask physicians privately on surveys, where they don’t have to sign their names and confess to having said this, you’ll be surprised about what they say. Surveys now show that the vast majority of physicians actually pray for their patients privately; and the question is, why do they do this? Well, for one thing, I think they believe in the power of prayer; in the second place, they feel compassionate and loving enough and caring enough for their patients that they’re willing to go an extra mile to do that.
But you know, when I was in medical school (and I think I speak for most physicians), none of this was emphasized. The idea that love could make a difference in the clinical response of the patient just never came up. Even today, talking about the importance of love and compassion really isn’t the very best way to advance your career in medicine. Your colleagues look at you funny; and you may not get that next grant application approved; and tenure may be denied you if you talk this way. But in their hearts, a lot of the doctors really are quite open to the importance of their deep connectedness with their patients and their love for them.
I’ve gone out on a limb in a series of books in trying to stand up for the importance of love and compassion and healing. There’s every reason to do this, because the studies that have been done in laboratories looking at the ability of people to reach out and connect with other individuals non-locally and at a distance, show that this connection is facilitated by a mutual experience of love. There isn’t a better word for this. There’s no sense in denying it, because we see its importance in the laboratory.
So I’m saying to my colleagues, anybody who will listen, can we just drop the pretense here and call this by what it is? You can dress it up and talk about non-local connectedness and whatever, but it boils down to a sense of sentience and compassion and love. I think we see this in all of those one-mind moments and one-mind experiences that we were talking about a moment ago. It’s not just the sense of connectedness that people experience and are transformed by; the other thread is the sense of profound love that comes with that sense of unity.
CRAIG: If we take your ideas of creating spaces of compassion, love, and connection a bit further, let’s explore what you think happens in a healing environment. As a chiropractor for more than two decades, I am fascinated by what occurs in a healing moment and interaction. Based on one mind do you think that we are creating a safe and nurturing space for a patient/client in which they can tap their one mind and have healing happen, as opposed to the illusion that we are doing something to them?
LARRY: I think one of the great premises of healing, whether in your field of chiropractic, or mine in internal medicine, or anything in between, has to do with the sense that there are not two isolated people here, patient and physician, who are trying to meet somewhere. There’s a meeting that has already taken place. The connection is innate. We don’t have to manufacture that; it comes factory-installed. There are levels where we come together that are invisible and probably subconscious, so we don’t have to make that connection happen when we’re dealing with patients. It’s already there.
But there’s something else we can do that helps activate it. My favorite word is “intentionality.” It is an act of conscious wishing, wanting, willing a certain outcome, and then stepping aside, putting the ego away, and letting that happen, if it will. This is all very mysterious. We don’t even have the language to discuss what may happen.
Another word that fits what’s happening here is the word non-locality. Healing isn’t some squiggly vibration that goes from point A to point B, in spite of all of our talk about energy and vibrations and all of this. Nothing is transferred in non-local connections. It’s already present. So we need to simply get out of the way with our heavily intellectualized models, and simply put ourselves in a place and ask that to happen.
A lot of people I’ve talked to in the healing business learn how to do that with certain attitudes toward prayer. One that I like (and bumped into over and over when I was writing books about the evidence that prayer does something to change the world), was the attitude and strategies that people have when they pray. One that I particularly found to be effective is when healers simply don’t ask for the cancer to go away or the heart attack to heal or anything like that. They don’t ask for anything specific. They simply ask something like, “May the best outcome prevail here.” They step aside and they stop trying to tell the world what to do. They stop trying to micromanage the outcome of the clinical interchange. I think that’s lovely. It is a way of appealing to a higher wisdom than our own, and it’s a way of tapping into the pool of information that is constituted by the one mind that you and I were just talking about.
CRAIG: What do you most hope will happen as a result of this book’s publication?
LARRY: I hope people can learn to go beyond the isolation of the individual. The reason I say that is because unless we learn to do that, we’re sunk on this planet. I don’t think we’re going to be able to meet the challenges that are absolutely profound. It requires some shift in the way we conceive of who we are. This idea of the one mind is one of the best hopes we have of survival. I know that’s big talk, and those are crucial issues that some people think are not appropriate to address philosophically, or spiritually, or psychologically; but unless we do, we’re not going to be able to meet the challenges. I’m an optimist about it. I once had an opportunity to talk to the great physicist David Bohm, and I asked him, “Professor Bohm, do you think we’re going to make it?” He thought long and hard, and finally he said, “Yes, Larry, we’re going to make it. Barely.” I hope this book can help us make it, barely. I’m convinced that if we’re able to really feel in our heart and our gut the truth behind our connectedness, it’s going to make us happier, and more fulfilled. And wiser, and I would even say healthier, to say nothing of helping us stay alive on this planet, which is the only home we have.
One Mind can be purchased at www.LarryDosseyMD.com or at your local independent bookseller.
Craig Weiner, DC, is the creator of Transformational Dialogues. He is a chiropractor and EFT Tapping and Right Brain Aerobics Trainer. The interview has been edited by the interviewer for publication purposes and can be heard at www.EFTtappingTraining.com.