Do We All Share One Mind?
Where our mind is concerned, we’ve been more concerned with disunity than unity. During the 20th century, we took the mind apart—the conscious, the unconscious, the pre- and sub-conscious, the collective unconscious, the superego, ego, id, and so on. When we look through the other end of the telescope, however, we can see a different pattern. We can make out what I call the One Mind—not a subdivision of consciousness, but the overarching, inclusive dimension to which all the mental components of all individual minds—past, present, and future—belong. I capitalize the One Mind to distinguish it from the single, one mind that each individual appears to possess.
Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. —David Bohm
The Supporting Evidence for One Mind
This is not a philosophical gambit but is based on human experience and actual scientific experiments. Consider studies in which human neurons are separated into two batches and sealed in so-called Faraday containers that block physical communication. When one batch is stimulated with a laser, the distant batch of neurons registers the same changes at the same time.
Or consider a huge collection of neurons, the human brain. When distant individuals who are emotionally bonded are wired with encephalographs that record their brain waves, or when they are both monitored with fMRI brain scanners, when one individual’s brain is visually stimulated the distant individual’s EEG or fMRI scan registers the same change at the same time.
Recent studies by James Fowler at U.C. San Diego and Nicholas Christakis, then at Harvard Medical School, found that “emotions have a collective existence—they are not just an individual phenomenon.”
Further: “Happiness is … contagious … Your happiness depends not just on your choices and actions, but also on the choices and actions of people you don’t even know who are one, two, and three degrees removed from you.”
Fowler and Christakis have shown that if your friend’s friend’s friend becomes happy—someone you’ve never met nor heard of—that has a greater effect on your happiness than if someone put $5,000 in your pocket.
There are hundreds of additional studies that reveal the unlimited, boundless behaviors of our minds. As consciousness researcher Stephan A. Schwartz describes these experiments: “Today there are six stabilized…protocols used in laboratories around the world exploring these…phenomena. Under rigorous double or triple blind, randomized, and tightly controlled conditions, each of these six has independently produced [odds against chance] of…one in a billion…”
The emerging image of mind is that it cannot be put in a box (or brain) and walled off from all other minds. If minds are boundless and boundaryless, as evidence suggests, in some sense all minds connect.
Throughout history many eminent scientists have glimpsed this fact. This includes Nobel physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who proclaimed, “The overall number of minds is just one…In truth there is only one mind.” And the distinguished physicist David Bohm asserted, “Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one.”
Neither the experimental evidence for our connectedness nor the experience of individuals across millennia seems to make much difference to skeptics afflicted by “randomania,” “statisticalitis,” “coincidentitis,” or “ODD” (Obsessive Debunking Disorder ). No matter. Skeptics can ignore the evidence, but they cannot wish it away. As physicist Max Planck once said, paraphrased, “Science progresses funeral by funeral.”
The Practical Benefits of One Mind
The concept of a collective One Mind with which each individual is connected suggests a pool of intelligence that might be tapped by creative individuals. As America’s great inventor, Thomas Edison, said, “People say I have created things. I have never created anything. I get impressions from the Universe at large and work them out, but I am only a plate on a record or a receiving apparatus—what you will. Thoughts are really impressions that we get from outside.”
The eminent German physicist and philosopher Baron Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker agreed. He said, “[In any great discovery] we find the often disturbing and happy experience: ‘It is not I; I have not done this.’ Still, in a certain way it is I—yet not the ego…but…a more comprehensive self.”
Our unity and connectedness as humans have taken a back seat to our obsession with individuality. Individuality should be honored; generally speaking, a species without a strong sense of individuality does not long survive on this planet. But individuality is only one side of the human coin. Neglecting the coin’s other side, our collective unity is a recipe for disaster nationally and globally, because the epidemic of selfishness and greed that has been unleashed by this unbalanced view of human nature is now threatening not only our social structure but also the larger eco-environmental fabric and life-support systems that sustain us.
The ethical implications of our fundamental connectedness are profound. Because of our intrinsic oneness, health can never be merely personal, and neither can illness, poverty, or hunger. The unity we share requires a recalibration of the Golden Rule from, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” to “Be kind to others because in some sense they are you.”
On this realization, our future on Earth may depend.
Deeply rooted in the scientific world, LARRY DOSSEY has become an internationally influential advocate of the role of the mind in health and the role of spirituality in healthcare. Bringing the experience of a practicing internist and the soul of a poet to the discourse, Dr. Larry Dossey offers panoramic insight into the nature and the future of medicine.
Upon graduating with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Dossey worked as a pharmacist while earning his M.D. degree from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, 1967. Before completing his residency in internal medicine, he served as a battalion surgeon in Vietnam, where he was decorated for valor. Dr. Dossey helped establish the Dallas Diagnostic Association, the largest group of internal medicine practitioners in that city, and was Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital in 1982.
An education steeped in traditional Western medicine did not prepare Dr. Dossey for patients who were blessed with “miracle cures,” remissions that clinical medicine could not explain. “Almost all physicians possess a lavish list of strange happenings unexplainable by normal science,” says Dr. Dossey. “A tally of these events would demonstrate, I am convinced, that medical science not only has not had the last word, it has hardly had the first word on how the world works, especially when the mind is involved.”
The author of 12 books and numerous articles, Dr. Dossey is the former Executive Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, the most widely subscribed-to journal in its field. The primary quality of all of Dr. Dossey’s work is scientific legitimacy, with an insistent focus on “what the data show.” As a result, his colleagues in medical schools and hospitals all over the country trust him, honor his message, and continually invite him to share his insights with them. He has lectured all over the world, including major medical schools and hospitals in the United States –Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, the Universities of Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic.
The impact of Dr. Dossey’s work has been remarkable. Before his book Healing Words was published in 1993, only three U.S. medical schools had courses devoted to exploring the role of religious practice and prayer in health; currently, nearly 80 medical schools have instituted such courses, many of which utilize Dr. Dossey’s works as textbooks. In his 1989 book Recovering the Soul, he introduced the concept of “nonlocal mind” — mind unconfined to the brain and body, mind spread infinitely throughout space and time. Since then, “nonlocal mind” has been adopted by many leading scientists as an emerging image of consciousness. Dr. Dossey’s ever-deepening explication of nonlocal mind provides a legitimate foundation for the merging of spirit and medicine. The ramifications of such a union are radical and call for no less than the reinvention of medicine.
In his book One Mind, Dr. Dossey proposes an inspiring view of consciousness that may reshape our destiny. Dossey’s premise is that all individual minds are part of an infinite, collective dimension of consciousness he calls the One Mind. This state—which we can all access—explains phenomena as diverse as epiphanies, creative breakthroughs, premonitions of danger or disaster, near-death experiences, communication with other species and with the dead, reincarnation, the movement of herds, flocks, and schools, and remote healing.