In modern times, magic is primarily associated with fiction and entertainment—from Harry Houdini to Harry Potter. But is there more to magic than fantasy? For millennia, the esoteric traditions have taught that some aspects of magic are quite real, and today both experimental and theoretical science is beginning to provide support for some of the core principles of magic.
Through my research on meditation and contemplative practices, I always noticed that what seemed like a very similar transcendent state was given different names like samadhi, oneness, non-dual, conscious awareness, etc. I also learned that transcendent states achieved through meditative practices have been reported across cultures and throughout history. The exact practices people used to achieve the transcendent states vary quite a bit from transcendental meditation to yoga to contemplative prayer, to other various forms of sitting meditation.
Consciousness can be described as your internal reality and self-awareness. It includes your relationships to your environment and the people in your life, as well as your worldview — your model of reality. Simply put, your consciousness determines how you experience the world.
So what if we want to make changes in our experience? How does transformation begin? How can we seek out transformation that expresses itself deeply and sustainably in our lives and the world-at-large?
Too often, change agents, politicians, activists, leaders of NGOs, and policy makers unintentionally employ methods that are actually counterproductive to what they are trying to achieve. Not only that, people who are working to make change in themselves, their families, or their clients or patients often feel flummoxed by the resistance they encounter.
Limitations in our human consciousness underlie many of the problems we face as a global community. This is why our research at IONS focuses on exploring the fundamental nature of consciousness, investigating how it interacts with the physical world, and studying how consciousness can dramatically transform in beneficial ways.
Ron Pevny, director of the Center for Conscious Eldering, proposes that there is a big difference between being elderly and being an elder. Through his work, he encourages and challenges people coming into their later years to aim high and live a life of deep meaning, purpose, and true elderhood.