Richard G. Petty, MD

Readiness to Seek the Eternal

Shankara - Raja_Ravi_Varma_-_Sankaracharya.jpg

“He is ready to seek the Eternal who has discernment and dispassion; who has restfulness and the other graces.”          

–Shankara (a.k.a. Adi Shankaracharya, Indian Sage, Spiritual Teacher and Author of the Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, Dates Uncertain, but c. A.D. 686-718 or 788-821)

“Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination: Timeless Teachings on Nonduality – The Vivekachudamani” (Shankara)

Social Adversity and Schizophrenia

People who are interested in the interaction of genes, environment, brain and mental illness might be interested to look at a brief article posted over at the Psychiatric Resource Forum.

The article summarizes some very important new data on social adversity and the subsequent dvelopment of major mental illness. The research has been looking at a huge puzzle: why are serious mental illnesses so much more common in Afro-Caribbeans and Africans living in England and other parts of Western Europe? It was initially thought that it might all be due to over-diagnosis, but with deatialed work done in England, the Caribbean and Africa it has now become clear that that isn’t it.

There may be a contribution from vitamin D deficiency: dark skinned people who are recent immigrants cannot make as much in their skin as they need. But that is not a cause but a potential contrbutor. That being said I am going to have something more to say about causality in medicine in a post in the next day or two.

A second line of research has identified some key brain structures that if abnormal, dramatically increase the change that a "high risk" person will develop schizophrenia. By "high risk" we mean a significant family history of the illness.

This is important material and represents a major step forward in our understanding of major mental illness and a move away from the medical model that has dominated so much of psychiatry over the last 30 years.

Critics and Creativity

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
–Albert Einstein (German-born American Physicist and, in 1921, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1879-1955)

I have had the incredible privilege of knowing, working with, and sometimes sitting at the feet of more than one hundred of the greatest and most influential thinkers, scientists and spiritual leaders of the last fifty years. I have never been interested in listing them: many wish to retain their privacy, and it is much more important for you to get the message, rather than its origin.

It’s great if a Nobel Laureate or a fourteenth generation teacher transmits his or her insights and wisdom. Yet it remains our responsibility to use all our powers – emotional, intellectual and intuitive – to decide what is right for us. I have seen a T’ai Chi Ch’uan master forget the “form,” a “guru” who neglected the most fundamental part of his own teachings, and a Nobel Laureate misquote a study in which I was involved. Such things happen; it just means that we have to bring our own gifts to bear when we decide how to proceed. Some spiritual teachers deliberately throw in some misinformation to see if we are actually working with their material, and not just sitting passively and soaking it up like a sponge.

After all these years spent with these fine people and scores of complementary practitioners, athletes, musicians, opera singers and ballet dancers, all have told me the same thing: the more creative you are, the more you give the world, the stronger the negative reaction. It almost seems to be a law of nature, to stop anyone form rising too high.

Debate is great! Willful destruction never is. Gently pointing out errors or inconsistencies is one of the marvelous strengths of the Internet. Smashing things and people for fun seems singularly pointless! Think about all the people in the public eye, actors and performers, who have been built up only to be thrown down again.

I’ve always been a gossip magnet: it’s just one of those things that I’ve come to expect! Yet we recently had something totally bizarre: we received a number of odd messages from people with strange pseudonyms. One made the bizarre claim that I was going to die. Well, I guess that’s a safe prediction for anyone! But with thanks to this modern Cassandra I am not, in fact, even close! I practice what I preach. Experts who have looked at my biophysical and "energetic" profiles think that I’m going to be around for another fifty to seventy years. And I plan to use those years to do what I can for others: helping, guiding, teaching, encouraging and supporting. And as long as people find them helpful, I’m going to keep the blogs, articles, books and CDs coming!

As Mark Twain said:
“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

And another wise person had this to say:
“Pay no attention to critics. No one ever erected a statue to a critic.”

Odd comments like those recently sent to me are a terrific gift: they help us to see how far we’ve come with one of the three great pillars of self-realization: detachment. The other two pillars are "Honesty of mind" and "Sincerity of spirit."

You must decide how far along you and I are with those!

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