Richard G. Petty, MD

The Abundance of God


“The abundance of God is like a mighty ocean, so vast you cannot possibly exhaust it or cause a shortage for others. You can go to this inexhaustible ocean with only a small cup and bring away only that small cup of bounty
and blessing. Or, if you have faith enough, you can take a bucket and bring away a bucketful. It makes no difference to the ocean. Nor does it matter how often you go. Abundance is always there.”           

–Henry Thomas Hamblin (English Optician who Founded the Science of Thought Review, later known as New Vision, based on the principle of Applied Right Thinking, 1873-1958)

Master-Gardener of the Soul

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“A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.”          

–James Allen (English Mystic and Author, 1864-1912)

“As a Man Thinketh” (James Allen)

Manifesting Abundance

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“Where man sees lack, lack manifests. Where man sees abundance, abundance is supplied.”         

–Darwin Gross (American Spiritual Teacher, Musician and, from 1971-1983, Leader of Eckankar, 1928-)   

The Maharishi Effect

In 1976, researchers associated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first described that in communities where there were large numbers of serious meditators, crime rates went down as the number of meditators went up. This has become known as the “Maharishi effect,” and some of this research has been published in highly reputable journals. You can see a summary of some of the research here. I also discuss this whole fascinating issue in more detail in Healing, Meaning and Purpose.

As you can imagine, it is controversial and has stirred up some heated arguments. But mounting research is pointing to evidence of a global consciousness that is developing and evolving.

More data on this effect was presented at a news conference on Wednesday, November 1, at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. Scientists reported on a rigorous, controlled econometric analysis of the first 100 days of a $12 million scientific demonstration project to monitor the effects of 1200 advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners on quality of life indicators.

The research is said to show that since the project began on July 23, 2006, the Dow Jones Industrial Index and the S&P 500 have posted total gains of approximately 12%, and the NASDAQ has climbed nearly 18%. The Dow has repeatedly hit all-time record levels, the S&P reaching a 5.5-year high, and the NASDAQ climbing to a five-year high.

If true, this is astonishing.

I don’t doubt the sincerity or scientific expertise of any members of the research teams. I’ve checked out some of the other work that each has done, and it has all been of the highest order. The one problem is that this is like a pharmaceutical company having a press conference to tell the world about a new wonder drug before anyone outside the company has had a chance to check out the research. Yes the data is out there, but there are a hundred and one messy little details that need to be checked over.

We have no reason to doubt, except that doubt has to be the perpetual mind set of the scientist. Many factors can make the markets go up and down. And until the research has been checked and validated by every interested person in the world we have to remain skeptical.

Let me tell you how this checking is done. Last week I was sent a research paper by a prestigious journal with a personal note from the editor asking me to see what I thought of the research. I read through the paper in great detail, checking the citations, the methodology, statistics and even the spelling.

This is a task undertaken by every senior academic, often once or twice a week. We don’t get paid for doing it, and the whole process is anonymous: I don’t know who did the research and they don’t know who is passing judgment on their labors. We do this work for the common good. Earlier this evening I completed my report to the editor. But it doesn’t stop there. One or two other experts will have done the same with the paper and then the editor decides based on all of our reports.

Then there are two more steps. If the editor decides to publish, then the global scientific community will crawl all over the research to see if we reviewers have missed anything and if the research looks okay. Finally others will have to replicate the study.

This is why research often seems to progress at a snail’s pace. In actual fact it isn’t. It is going very quickly, but each step is being checked extremely carefully. Even with all of this conscientious effort, research regularly gets published that turns out not to be correct after all.

And with such extraordinary claims we require extraordinarily good proof.

If, as I suspect, the research is indeed found to be correct, it could change the world forever.

Money Doesn’t Make You Happy!

“Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
–Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor and Philosopher, A.D.121-180)

I recently wrote about a common myth: thinking that there is a connection between income level, health and longevity. Once you have passed a certain low threshold, this connection between income and health does not hold. Quite obviously living in abject poverty in the Horn of Africa or on the streets of New York is associated with all manner of physical and psychological challenges, but once people have reached a certain economic level there are other far more important determinants of health. We cannot use longevity as a justification for capitalism!

We now have a new piece of research that is also intuitively obvious: there is no link between wealth and happiness. You have only to look at the unhappy lives of so many people in the public eye to see that for yourself, and you have probably seen it in people around you. Many wealthy people are profoundly unhappy and some get into substance abuse or other high-risk activities.

Why should this be? People often tend to exaggerate the contribution of income to happiness because they focus on conventional achievements when evaluating their life or the lives of others.

Like success, happiness is subjective.

When taking stock of your life, it is a really good idea to try and score your levels of happiness, balance and satisfaction along five dimensions: physical, psychological, social, subtle and spiritual. In the book and CD program Healing, Meaning and Purpose, I give some very precise ways of doing that. There’s not much point in living in a big house on a hill, if you are rattling around in it on your own. What contribution are you making? And what will be your legacy?

“Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self.”
–Ramana Maharshi (Indian Hindu Mystic and Spiritual Teacher, 1879-1950)

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The Status Syndrome

I have recently seen some reports in the media about a connection between money and longevity: the idea being that the more money you have, the longer you live. Which presumably means that Bill Gates will live forever. Sadly this link between wealth and longevity is a false extrapolation from some very old research. Yes, extreme poverty is associated with excess mortality, not only because of poor lifestyle and lack of access to medical screening and care, but also because adults who were of low birth weight are more likely to develop diabetes and hypertension. And people born into poverty are more likely to have been malnourished before birth, and therefore to be of low weight at birth. This relationship between low birth weight and subsequent disease is likely the result of incomplete development of the liver and kidneys before birth.

A famous study of British civil servants has indeed shown that people who work in more senior positions are more likely to live longer than people working in the lower ranks. But it has nothing to do with money. Once people have passed a certain critical material threshold, lifestyle factors have progressively less impact. There are still more smokers amongst manual workers and hours of hard work means that they have to eat high calorie high fat foods to be able t keep working, and we have not done a good job of showing people how easy it is to eat healthily on a budget.

Sir Michael Marmot is an outstanding epidemiologist working in London, who has spent three decades examining the health consequences of differences in social standing. He has discovered that there is a social gradient that predicts health outcomes: the lower a person’s social rank, the higher their risk for heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, accidents and many other health problems. Once people have passed a certain threshold of physical and material well-being, something else comes into play: other kinds of well-being that have a massive impact upon life. These are autonomy – how much control you have over your life – and opportunities for social engagement and participation. The psychological experience of inequality has profound effects on multiple body systems. Sir Michael has summarized a lot of his research in an eminently readable book entitled, appropriately, The Status Syndrome.

There is an interesting corollary of the Status Syndrome. In his book The Pecking Order, Dalton Conley presents interesting research that indicates that our level of success relative to our siblings is less the result of birth order or genetics and more the result how much family resources – time, energy, money and love – we received while growing up.

There’s not much that you can do about your birth order, but all this research has some important implications.

1. Once you have crossed a threshold that allows you access to nutritious food, exercise, stress management and health care, there is no longer any link between health and wealth. In fact, working and working to get more and more money is associated with increased mortality!

2. The amount of time, energy, money and love that the family is able to give to each child will help shape and structure their future life. That is a hugely important responsibility.

3. Ensure that you feel and know that you are autonomous: that you are in control of your life. I really urge you to work on this. One of the reasons for being concerned about the ever-increasing demands being made upon all of us is that it can make us feel out of control. I spend a great deal of time in Healing, Meaning and Purpose discussing and demonstrating techniques for taking back control of your life.

4. Are you socially engaged and participating in life? Are you doing something for your community or your church? How often do you meet new people and engage with them? Is there someone whom you haven’t seen for a while that really needs a call from you? Please do think about this: it’s not just about socializing; it’s about protecting your health and well-being, and the health and well-being of those around you.

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