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The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us -- Are You Ready for a New World?

The ideas and institutions that define our culture are breaking down -- and that's a good thing, say authors Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman.

Economic meltdown ... environmental crises ... seemingly endless warfare. The world is in critical condition. Bad news? Good news? Or both?

Many of the ideas and institutions that define our culture are breaking down -- and that's a good thing, say Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman. In their new book, Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There from Here , they write that today's crises are part of a natural process -- clearing out what no longer serves us to make room for a new way of being. Are they cockeyed optimists or do they see things others miss?

Reality is alive, dynamic and interconnected. Science has been saying so for nearly a century, and we experience it every time we walk on a beach or look into another's eyes. Yet most of our cultural, societal, political and economic structures act as if it's not so. We can no longer afford to indulge outdated worldviews. In order to deal with the crises we now face, we've got to act on the new realities and understandings revealed by science.

A cell biologist by training, Bruce Lipton taught at the University of Wisconsin's School of Medicine, performed pioneering studies at Stanford, and authored The Biology of Belief . Steve Bhaerman has been writing and performing "enlightening" comedy in the character of Swami Beyondananda for over 20 years. He is the author of several books.

Terrence McNally: Bruce, you first, a bit about your path to the work you do today?

Bruce Lipton: When I was very young I looked into a microscope for the first time and saw cells moving around. That vision ultimately led to my becoming a cellular biologist and teaching in medical schools. I was a pretty conventional biologist who thought of the body as a biochemical machine run by genes. I was teaching the genetic control of a molecular body to medical students, but at the same time I was doing research on muscular dystrophy and cloning stem cells starting about 1967.

My research proved so mind-boggling that it led to my leaving the university. I saw that genetically identical cells put into different environments have different fates. I'd start with genetically identical stem cells, change some of the constituents of their environment, and the stem cells would form muscle; change the environment a little bit differently and genetically identical cells would form bone; change it yet again, and another group of genetically identical cells would form fat cells.

I was teaching medical students that genes control life, yet my research said that the genes were actually controlled by the organism's response to the environment.

That work ultimately led to The Biology of Belief , and presaged epi-genetics, one of today's leading areas of research in biomedicine. Epi is a prefix that means above. Epidermis means the layer above the dermis. Epi-genetic control literally means "control above the genes."

How an organism perceives the environment or, in the case of humans, what an organism believes about the environment, actually controls its genetics. If we change our perceptions or beliefs or attitudes about life, we actually change our genetic read-out dynamically. This revolution in science empowers you to recognize that your health is under your control.

TM: Now Steve, your path, which I assume may be even more circuitous than Bruce's?

Steve Bhaerman: I was a very idealistic young teacher in Washington, DC teaching during the late '60s-early '70s. I found some really fabulous ideas about how things could be, but how to put those ideas into practice escaped most people. I remember meeting a world-famous expert on communal living, but nobody could stand to live with him. For the last 30 or 40 years I've been exploring spiritual paths, learning about myself, and seeking ways of making our great ideas congruent with actual reality.

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