How to Escape the Cycle of Self-Judgment.

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Like most people, I have done my fair share of suffering through my conditioned mind.

My self-deprecating personality has always been accepted in society as neutral, even nice. However, the flip-side has been that I’ve been crippled by self-judgment. While I’m aware of the damage this mindset causes in my life, I’ve come to view it as a gift—a gift that allows me to see that the stories I tell myself are not always the truth.

After I had suffered long enough at the hands of anxiety and depression, I started the journey of looking inwards, a journey that has since become a fire.

My introspection has raised an important question: Is our reality born or bred into us from an early age? We must go all the way back to the start and do a little enquiry into our own experiences. Is the shape of our present moment innate or is it learned?

Could it be both? If it is both, how much of our experience is authentic to who we were at birth? Or to put it another way, what is our natural state of being versus our learned behavior right now, in this moment?

Most human beings walking this planet are a duality: the definition we were born with and the definition that we were taught—that which we were told we are.

That fire of my own path has burned away the veneer of what is not true. Despite this, my mind still wants to maintain control—it is the ultimate manipulative entity, an entity with no physical presence. For me, this is proof enough that this entity—my mind itself—is something I have learned, not something that I was born with.

We spend so much time struggling with issues that aren’t essential to whom and what we really are. While the outer appearance of self-deprecation was helpful in some social setting, it did not reflect who I was on the inside. This is possibly the reason that the first line of Don Miguel Ruiz’s famous Four Agreements is, “Never speak against self, even in jest.”

It all starts and ends with the self.

If we are not supportive of ourselves, no one else will be. We will be taken for granted, used up, ignored, and our outer reality will soon match our inner state. This was the space that I occupied for so many years through constant self-judgment.

So, if we find ourselves stuck on a merry-go-round of self-judgment, the first thing we must do is simply recognize that the judgment is in fact taking place. Get curious: when did this pattern start? Was I born with it? Is there an event that took place in my past that triggered it?

To simply begin looking inwards and tracking your inner-self can be extremely revealing.

We spend so much of our lives in a state of effort that blocks our natural flow to our true power and heart. That constant effort is exhausting, and it robs us of our natural-born potential. Don’t take my word for it; simply start looking inwards.

So much of our lives are consumed by control—control of sport, work, relationships—but that effort to control is also a learned behavior we have acquired along the way. It is an effort born of judgment and comparison to others. That urge to control is out of line with life itself.

Imagine a self that creates no future, and lives in no past, but only the present—what is happening right now, in line with the natural flow of life and its creativity.

That doesn’t mean we don’t progress. It just means we progress in the direction that gives us our best chance of being creative and living authentically. In essence, it finally gives us the chance to realize our own true potential.

No instruction booklet came with us when we were born that instructed us how to breathe and to teach our hearts how to beat. There was no need to be taught how to digest food or how to remove waste, or how to circulate the blood through our veins and capillaries.

If you were to lay out all of the arteries, capillaries and veins in one adult, end-to-end, they would stretch about 100,000 kilometers. What’s more, the capillaries, which are the smallest of the blood vessels, would make up about 80 percent of this length.

By comparison, the circumference of the Earth is about 40,000 km. That means a person’s blood vessels could wrap around the planet approximately two and half times. 

Still believe we are not miracles? Still question whether there is true potential and power in the self?

We have forgotten the true nature of all living creatures because of the ultimate tyrant: the mind and its judgments. 

Don’t kneel at the god of chaos, the mind—for he is the supreme illusionist.

As Anthony Paul Moo-Young puts it so eloquently, “You are the master and the mind is your servant, that is the correct relationship.”



Author: Grant Giles

Image: MediaCache

Editor: Callie Rushton

Time to Stop Learning and Start Doing?

Have you ever felt as if something is holding you back from getting what you want?   Maybe you’re spending too much time learning? The challenge happens when your mind confuses learning and doing.  It can’t tell the difference between perception and reality – unless you tell it.  And, it’s easy to get caught up stuffing your brain with new information.  The problem is, you are not working toward your goal. Here are some simple truths: 1) Learning is fun and required to make a better life. 2) Learning alone will not create results. 3) You don’t have to learn everything to succeed. When you consistently apply what you have learned, you will make progress.  Besides,  your brain is not big enough to hold all the knowledge in the world anyway. Don’t get stuck in the trap. When you grasp plenty to move, MOVE!

A Message from the Divine Feminine for those who have Forgotten Themselves.

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This is for all who have forgotten themselves—and all who are remembering to remember.

When we look within, we find an intimate personal power, both gentle and fierce. It is wholesome and good. It aims to do no harm and take no sh*t.

As life gets busy and we face various demands, we sometimes forget or lose touch with this power.

I hope these words can serve as a reminder of what lies inside us.


I am a vast, unending shoreline.

Both ocean and sand.

I am a calm and peaceful haven.
A dock at which to land.

I can be wild and cantankerous
But never for a petty reason. 

I am a strong, insightful woman
Wise and simple, to each season.

I am a spot of heaven
in an endless hour.

A lover
welcoming surrender at death’s door.
Bringing up new life from the fallen trees on the forest floor.

I am the wild winds and stormy seas.
The gentleness of skin kissed by breeze.

I am the confines of infinity.
The patience in calamity.

I am maiden, mother and crone.
Always together, always alone.

The vast pillars of the night hold up my very soul
with an openness that embraces the dawn.

For I am old as the ages.
Through you, I have swum through shadow
and been drenched in each courageous sunrise.

I am calling you
to a life that is truly alive on the inside.

Sincere and silent.

Longing for everything.

That your life may be filled
with prosperity, wisdom,
adventure and grace.

Facing death
and emptiness.
With a fullness
that bubbles warmth into your breast.

I am warm from your glow.
Silent in your ebb and flow.
Ever present and observant.

Everything that ever was
and will be.

Caressing your cheeks through eternity.

When you look in the mirror, remember me.

Author: Catherine Simmons

Image: Emilio Garcia/Flickr

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Generation Disconnected. {Poem}

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An entire generation
scared of real connection,
running from love
with every swipe left,
left alone—
does it even matter anymore?
We care more about how many men have been inside her
than how many hearts she has made a home inside of;
and how many
have foolishly
taken her heart into their hands
and dropped it on its head.
And how many times
she picked up the tiny pieces,
put them back together
and let light back in,
and let love back in
through the cracks.
We crave connection:
1,000 friends
yet zero hearts
within reach.
Zero humans
we can touch through
fingertips on collarbones,
kisses on necks
and words whispered
from mouths to earlobes.
This entire generation
we are more social
yet less sociable.
We choose competition
over community,
over families,
over work that makes our hearts roar.
How can one generation
actively choose
and continue
to break their own hearts
like this?
We filter our lives
and tune up our faces,
yet leave our hearts untended
and let people f*ck us,
that it was once called
making love.



Author: Annabelle Blythe

Image: Courtesy of author

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Deconstructing Dawkins: Richard Dawkins and the Fallacies of Mechanistic Science

Richard Dawkins is the high priest of popular science, this country’s unofficial scientist laureate. His theories have helped to form the generally accepted scientific “rational” worldview of our culture, which most of our institutions, our media, and our respected intellectuals accept as “reality.” The main tenets of this worldview can perhaps be summarized as follows:

– Life came into being by accident, through the interactions of certain chemicals. Once it had come into existence, it evolved from simple to more complex forms through randomly occurring genetic mutations acted on by natural selection.

– Living beings consist of “selfish genes” whose mission is to replicate themselves. Human beings are merely vehicles for the propagation of our genetic material. The desire for genetic replication is the main motivation of everything we do.

– All of our instincts, emotions and behavioral traits are related to certain genes. These characteristics exist in us because they had survival value for our prehistoric ancestors. As a result the genes they are related to were “selected”. For example, it was genetically beneficial for men to be polygamous, since this meant that their genetic material could be replicated more frequently, so men have a natural tendency to be unfaithful. According to some advocates of evolutionary psychology, rape may also have a genetic basis; it can be seen as a desperate attempt to replicate their genes by men who cannot attract willing sexual partners.

– Since living beings are nothing more than their physical or chemical components, there can be no such thing as a “soul” or “life-force.” What we experience as “consciousness” is produced by the workings of the billions of neurons in our brains.

– As a result there can’t be any life after death. Our consciousness dies with our brains, and nothing survives our bodies.

– Paranormal, “mystical” or “spiritual” phenomena cannot be genuine because they contravene the fundamental laws of nature. For example, there is no known energy field which could link one mind to another and make telepathy possible and no known force which could account for the ability to move objects by mental effort.

The Neo-Darwinist Dogma

These tenets are so familiar and so widely accepted that one might assume that that they are  undisputed “truths” with enormous evidence behind them, which all scientists accept. But if you dig a little deeper you find that this isn’t the case at all. These tenets are closer to beliefs or assumptions than actual truths, and there are many scientists who dispute them. In fact, it’s interesting that most of the prominent supporters of Dawkins’ views are not biologists — for example, Daniel Dennett is a philosopher, while Steven Pinker is a cognitive psychologist. Amongst biologists themselves, there is a great deal more skepticism about his views.

We also tend to forget that Neo-Darwinism is to a large extent an Anglo-American phenomenon. Many continental scientists have been less impressed with it. One problematic aspect of the Neo-Darwinism is that mutations only occur at a rate of about one per several million cells in every generation. Since only a tiny number create beneficial traits which give a survival advantage, some scientists have doubted that this frequency is enough to give rise to the amazing variety of life forms the world contains.

The French anti-Darwinist scientist Andree Tetry pointed out that it’s not just a question of mutations being beneficial, they also have to be cumulative. Each mutation has to relate to the previous one, and occur at exactly the right place and time. Imagine the thousands of separate genetic mutations which would be needed to produce birds’ wings, for example. Each one would have to be exactly the right kind of mutation in terms of the previous one, to create the next step along the line of development to wings, and each time the odds against these occurring accidentally would increase massively.

There is also the problem that favorable mutations would soon be lost by interbreeding with non-mutated members of a species. Darwin himself saw this as the biggest problem of his theory. It’s easy to see how this “crossing” might be avoided with animals — they might just physically move away from the species, for instance — but not with the vegetable kingdom. Pierre Paul Grasse, one of France’s other most prominent 20th century anti-Darwinists, pointed out that mutations can only cause trivial changes. There are invisible boundaries between species which mutations cannot cross, so that they can cause variation but never true evolution.

Biologists such as Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock have argued that the driving force of evolution is not competition but co-operation. Living beings do not survive by fighting against one another, but by interaction and mutual dependence. Strictly speaking, “the survival of the fittest” does not mean the survival of the strongest or the most selfish, but the survival of those who interact most effectively. Systems theorists have shown that natural systems and organisms have an innate tendency to move towards complexity, creating structures which are more than the sum of parts. Apparent order and complexity are not created by genetic mutations, but by the innate “emergent” properties of matter.

In addition, the developing recent field of epigenetics suggests that genes may be switched on and off by environmental factors, and that once genes are “switched on,” they may continue to be active for descendants. For example, if someone experiences malnutrition or stress, this can cause changes which are passed down through future generations. In a 2006 study in Sweden, the scientists Marcus Pembrey and Lars Olav Bygren found that if a 19th century person experienced famine in their life, it has an effect on the life expectancy of their 20th century grandchildren.  Research at Washington State University has shown that if rats are exposed to toxic substances like fungicides or pesticides, it causes biological changes which last for at least four generations, and possibly more. Similarly, after the 9/11 disaster, the psychologist Rachel Yehuda studied the effects of stress on pregnant women in or near the World Trade Center. Her results suggested that the effects were passed on to the women’s children. In other words, this suggests that the much maligned early French biologist Lamarck — who suggested that evolution proceeds through the “inheritance of acquired characteristics” — may not have been completely wrong.

Anthropological Evidence against the Selfish Gene

Dawkins’ own most prominent contribution to the Neo-Darwinist paradigm, the concept of the selfish gene (written about at length in his book The Selfish Gene), leads to a host of pernicious assumptions about human nature. If ultimately all that matters for us is the survival of our genes, then it’s inevitable that human beings — and all other living beings — should be competitive, greedy, aggressive, and war-like. It’s inevitable that different human groups fight over territory; it’s inevitable that societies consist of different classes and that the powerful oppress the weak; it’s inevitable that we all look after number one and keep all our millions of dollars in the bank instead of giving them to starving people on the other side of the world. As we saw earlier, some evolutionary psychologists see rape as an inevitable consequence of our selfish genes’ desire for replication. Racism is also “inevitable.” The evolutionary psychologist Pascal Boyer, for example, sees racism as “a consequence of highly efficient economic strategies,” enabling us to “keep members of other groups in a lower-status position, with distinctly worse benefits.” (1) In other words, we keep people from other groups away from our resources and treat them badly so that we can decrease their chance of genetic survival and increase our own. The “selfish gene” theory denies the most noble of human characteristics — our capacity for self-sacrifice, compassion, and altruism — or else ingeniously explains them away as “mistakes” or “disguised self-interest” or “reciprocal altruism“.

However, from an anthropological perspective, there are some serious objections to this view of human nature. It’s completely wrong to assume that all human societies are — or have been — competitive and hierarchical. In fact, anthropologists and archaeologists generally agree that the most prehistoric human societies were extremely egalitarian and democratic. Until about 10,000 years ago, all human beings lived as hunter-gatherers, in small groups, moving from site to site every few months. Typically, contemporary hunter-gatherer societies do not have leader figures. They might have a nominal chief, but their power is very limited, and they can easily be deposed if the rest of the group aren’t satisfied with the chief. Decisions are usually arrived at by group discussion, and food is never hoarded individually but always shared amongst the group. There are no status or wealth differences. As the anthropologist Christopher Boehm summarises, “This egalitarian approach seems to be universal for foragers who live in small bands that remain nomadic, suggesting considerable antiquity for political egalitarianism”. (2) The anthropologist James Woodburn speaks of the “profound egalitarianism” of foraging hunter-gatherer groups, noting that no other way of human life “permits so great an emphasis on equality.” (3)

One possible argument here might be that these groups are effectively extended families, and so by being egalitarian they’re effectively ensuring the survival of their common genetic material. As Dawkins explains the occasional altruistic behavior of animals, “Altruism at the level of the individual organism can be a means by which the underlying genes maximize their self interest.” (4) However, we would still expect there to be some expression of selfishness and competitiveness, at times when the interest of their selfish genes is better served by individualistic and non-cooperative behavior. But such behavior very rarely occurs.

Another argument might be that, although they may work co-operatively as individuals, as groups these peoples might be extremely competitive. All of their competitive instincts might go into fighting with other groups. After all, haven’t all human groups always fought tooth and nail and done their best to exterminate each other? But this isn’t true either. Hunter-gatherer groups are generally (with a few exceptions) strikingly peaceful, and when conflicts do occur they are often ritualized into less dangerous forms. For example, if Australian aborigine tribes had a potential conflict, one person from each tribe would be chosen, and, standing stationery around thirty meters apart, would throw spears at each other. When one of them was wounded the conflict would be over and the other tribe would be seen as the winner.

One anthropologist, J.M.G. van der Dennen, surveyed over 500 of the world’s remaining native peoples and found that the vast majority of them are “highly unwar-like”, with “war reported as absent or mainly defensive,” while the others only had “allegedly mild, low-level and/or ritualized warfare.” (5) In 2013, the anthropologists Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg published a study of violence in 21 modern day hunter-gatherer groups, and found that, over the last two hundred years, lethal attacks by one group on another were extremely rare. They identified only 148 deaths by violence amongst the groups during this period, and found that the great majority were the result of one-on-one conflict, or family feuds.

And this doesn’t just apply to hunter-gatherers. There have been many sedentary tribal peoples who were strikingly un-warlike and egalitarian. There are also examples of ancient towns and even whole cultures which appear to have existed without any significant degree of social inequality or warfare. This is true of the ancient Turkish city of Catal Huyuk, for example, which existed for 2000 years with no evidence of damage through warfare, and also the Minoan culture of ancient Crete.

According to the archaeologist Nicolas Platon, the ancient Cretans were “an exceptionally peace-loving people” who showed no evidence of warfare either at home or abroad for over 1,500 years, until the latter stages of their culture, when they started to be affected by developments on mainland Greece (6). Their towns had no military fortifications, their villas were built facing the sea (showing that there was no danger of attack by pirates or invaders) and there is no sign that the islands’ different city-states fought against each other. The Cretans also had, in the words of Riane Eisler, “a rather equitable distribution of wealth,” the result of which was an apparent lack of poverty and a high standard of living for peasants (7).

Neo-Darwinists and evolutionary psychologists generally don’t attempt to deal with these issues, showing little interest in anthropology or archaeology. They speak of an “environment of evolutionary adaptation” (EEA), usually locating this on the African Savannah, but rarely attempt to investigate who these early humans were, or how they might have lived. From their point of view, this ignorance is advisable, since the evidence contradicts their theories.


As mentioned above, Dawkins doesn’t believe that altruism contradicts the “genetic selfishness” of living beings. After all, it’s usually directed towards people who share the same genes as us, members of our own families or communities, so that when we sacrifice ourselves for them this may mean actually perpetuating our own genes. And even when this isn’t the case, there may still be some benefits to us.  Altruism makes us feel good about ourselves, it makes other people respect us more, or it might (so far as we believe) increase our chances of getting into heaven. Or perhaps altruism is an investment strategy — we do good deeds to others in the hope that they will return the favor some day, when we are in need. (This is known as reciprocal altruism.) According to evolutionary psychologists, it could even be a way of demonstrating our resources, showing how wealthy or able we are, so that we become more attractive to the opposite sex and have enhanced reproductive possibilities.

Finally, evolutionary psychologists have also suggested that altruism towards strangers may be a kind of mistake, a “leftover” trait from when human beings lived in small groups with people we were genetically closely related to. Of course, we felt an instinct to help other members of our group, because our own survival depended on the safety of the group as a whole, and because, more indirectly, this would support the survival of our genes. We don’t live in small tribes of extended family anymore, but we habitually behave as if we are, helping the people around us as if we are related to them.

These explanations may account for many acts of altruism, but I don’t think they can account for all. “Pure” altruism exists too — a simple, direct desire to alleviate the suffering of other human beings or other living beings, based on our ability to empathize with them. This is suggested by the psychologist Daniel Batson’s “empathy-altruism” hypothesis, which has been validated by many experiments. Because we can “feel with” other people, we are motivated to help them when they are in need. It’s true that this may bring additional benefits — it may make us feel good about ourselves afterwards, or increase our chances of being helped back — but these aren’t the primary motivation. It’s possible that our primary motivation is an impulsive unselfish desire to alleviate suffering.

Years ago a friend of mine who went to India for a holiday and was so affected by the poverty he saw that he decided to go back and spend a year working at Mother Teresa’s hospital in Calcutta. His desire to help was so pure and unconditional that it’s difficult to understand how — even on an unconscious or instinctive level — it might have been part of security policy to try to ensure that he was helped back if he ever fell into poverty himself, or even a way of increasing his status amongst his peers.

The other day, I was about to have a shower, and saw a spider near the plug hole of our bath. I got out of the shower, found a piece of paper, gently encouraged the spider on to it, and scooped it out of danger. Why did I do this? Perhaps in the hope that a spider would do the same for me in the future? Or that the spider would tell his friends what a great person I am? Perhaps there are some spider genes inside me from way back in my ancestry. Or, more seriously, perhaps it was the result of moral conditioning, a respect for living things and an impulse to “do good” which was ingrained in me by my parents? (Although come to think of it, my parents didn’t teach me those things…) No, I think this simple act was motivated by empathy. I empathized with the spider as another living being, who was entitled to stay alive just as I was.

I’m being a little facetious, but the question of altruism to members of other species is an important one, since it can’t be explained in genetic terms, or in terms of “reciprocal altruism.” If I donate money to an animal charity, stop to pick up an injured bird on the road and go 10 miles out of my way to take it to the nearest vet, am I really doing it to look good in other people’s eyes, or to feel good about myself? Again, that could be the case, but it’s also possible that these are acts of pure altruism — responses to the suffering of another living being, arising out of empathy.

As a more general point, it’s also worth remembering for a moment that genes are nothing more than chemicals. According to Neo-Darwinist ideology, these chemicals actually have control over me. I am completely subservient to them. Neo-Darwinism takes away all the autonomy, free will and intelligence which I thought I had and gives them to my genes.

Neo-Darwinism and the Farther Reaches of Human Nature

Some of the most absurd applications of Neo-Darwinism are its attempts to explain the “farther reaches of human nature” (in Abraham Maslow’s phrase), such as human creativity, the appreciation of beauty, the urge for self-actualization or for spiritual growth.

According to Neo-Darwinism, everything we do is motivated by a desire for survival and genetic replication, and all our characteristics and habits were developed because they helped us to survive in the past. Steven Pinker has suggested, for example, that our sense of beauty is always directed towards natural phenomena which represented survival to our ancestors. This is why scenes of streams, trees, lush fields, fruit trees and flowers appear beautiful to us. And this does seem to make some sense — after all, we do generally find sterile and barren environments unattractive. As with evolutionary psychology in general, there’s definitely something in it. The problem is that that “something” is taken too far, and meant to account for the whole spectrum of human behavior, ignoring myriad other factors. And there are, of course, all kinds of natural phenomena which we find beautiful despite the fact that they could have had no survival value for our ancestors whatsoever. One of the sights which human beings find most beautiful is a clear sky at night, with the velvet blackness and the stars and the moon. But the night environment has no survival value for us whatsoever — in fact, darkness was dangerous to our ancestors. Desert environments could hardly be more inimical to human survival prospects, but many of us find them beautiful too. For example, the explorer William Thesinger “fell in love” with the desert, writing of the Sahara: “I was exhilarated by the sense of space, the silence, and the crisp cleanness of the sand.” (8)

In his book How the Mind Works Pinker also mulls over what he calls the “puzzle” of human creativity. Why is it that so many people are driven to pursue artistic activities such as poetry, painting, or composing music when these activities seem to have little survival value? The conclusion Pinker reaches is that creativity is linked to a desire for status. We write poems and novels and symphonies because we want to make a name for ourselves so that we can attract women and spread our genes as far and wide as possible. This might be true of a few rock musicians, but every creative person knows himself or herself that there are much deeper motivations — a desire to capture and communicate ideas and emotions, to inspire and influence others, and so on. If novelists and poets were really just seeking status then they would surely give up after their first year or so of rejection slips and become businessmen or drug dealers instead. And there are, of course, many artists who are completely unconcerned with recognition. A friend of mine has been writing poems prolifically for over 30 years and has never tried to get any of them published.

Paranormal Phenomena and Quantum Physics

In Unweaving the Rainbow Dawkins shows a laudable willingness to accept that human understanding of the world might be limited, and that science cannot give us the answer to everything. He discusses the idea that time began with the Big Bang, and writes that this is impossible for us to understand due to the limitations of our minds, which “were only ever designed to cope with slow, rather large objects on the African savannas.” (9). He makes a similar point in his collection of essays, A Devil’s Chaplain, when discussing Quantum physics. He writes that “modern physics teaches us that there is more to truth than meets the eye, and than meets the all too limited human mind” (10).

In view  of this, Dawkins’ closed-minded attitude to “paranormal” phenomena seems puzzling. After all, isn’t it possible that phenomena such as telepathy or pre-cognition might work in ways which are beyond our understanding as well? However, Dawkins vehemently dismisses the possibility of such “supernatural” phenomena. As he sees it, belief in such things is the result of a desire to regress to the comforting and colorful illusions of childhood. It’s the result of a failure of nerve, a failure to develop a true, objective, rational vision of the world. This hypocrisy suggests that Dawkins’ attitude here is itself irrational, a dogmatic reaction to  which potentially threaten the foundations of his worldview.

Perhaps even stranger though, is the willful blindness of Dawkins and other mechanistic scientists towards the implications of modern physics. Dawkins has said — as many skeptics do — that if phenomena such as telepathy and pre-cognition exist, this would contravene the present laws of physics. But this isn’t the case. It may be true of classical Newtonian physics (although even this is debatable) but certainly not of modern physics. There are many aspects of modern physics which are compatible with pre-cognition, for instance. If the universe exists in four-dimensional space-time, the idea that time flows in a linear direction, from the present to the future, makes no sense. Time is static, in the same way that space is, so that the the whole of the past and the whole of the future are here now, existing side by side with the present. And even if we presume that time does flow, there is nothing in the laws of physics that suggests that it can only flow in a forward direction. As Stephen Hawking notes, “the laws of science are unchanged” when particles are changed to anti-particles, when their “left” and “right’ sides are swapped, and when their motion is reversed (in other words, when they move backwards in time). (11)

It is certainly not true that telepathy and pre-cognition contravene the “laws” of microcosmic quantum physics. The quantum phenomenon of “backwards causation” (or retro-causation) is clearly compatible with pre-cognition, since it suggests that, under certain circumstances, cause and effect can be reversed, so that an event can literally take place before its cause. And in relation to telepathy, quantum entanglement shows that seemingly “separate” particles are interlinked, reacting to each other’s movements, so that they can’t be treated as independent units but only as a part of a whole system. That suggests that, on the microcosmic level, all things are interconnected — which would also offer the possibility of an exchange of information via telepathy. More generally, these quantum phenomena — and others, such as particle/wave duality — make it clear that (as Dawkins agrees) our understanding of the universe is limited, and there must be a multitude of forces and phenomena beyond our present awareness. They demonstrate that, in William James’ phrase, we cannot “close our accounts with reality.” It is therefore irrational to state with certainty that paranormal phenomena are impossible — and even more so, when one considers the significant empirical evidence for phenomena such as precognition and telepathy which has been amassed over recent years. (12)

Skeptics like Dawkins often attempt to separate off the sub-atomic world from the macrocosmic world, try to convince themselves that the strangeness of the sub-atomic world doesn’t affect their ordered Newtonian world. But this is nonsense, of course. The sub-atomic world is this world, in the same way that the tiny black dots with different shades are the photo. What is the case (or appears to be the case) for the quantum world is also the case for the macrocosmic world we live in. The quantum world informs the macrocosmic world.

Anthropomorphic Arrogance

The idea that there might be much more to reality than we can conceive of breaks ones of the assumptions at the heart of mechanistic science: the assumption that the world as it appears to us is the world as it is, that the human mind — or human consciousness — has access to absolute truth. (To his credit, Dawkins doubts that this is the case.)

It’s this assumption which makes some scientists sure that one day we will understand the universe completely, uncover all of its laws and explain all its phenomena. If we have access to absolute reality, then understanding the world is simply a question of investigating it in as much detail as we can. We just need to keep examining it, and eventually all our discoveries will add up into a “theory of everything,” and the great enterprise of scientific discovery will be complete.

This assumption is also the basis of some skeptics’ certainty that paranormal phenomena cannot exist, and that other unusual phenomena such as near-death experiences, spiritual experiences or out of body experiences can be explained away in physicalist terms. These phenomena lie beyond our normal understanding; they are not a part of our normal, tangible everyday reality. And so to accept them would mean that there is more to the world than everyday reality.

But for any human being to believe that they have access to absolute truth is anthropocentric arrogance. We are not aware of reality through an objective, camera-like vision. As Kant suggested, our awareness is mediated by our psychological structures; we don’t just observe reality, we co-create it, and cannot know reality as it is in itself. To assume that we’re capable of being aware of absolute reality is to assume that human awareness is absolute. But human beings are part of a whole spectrum of awareness which moves through the most basic to the most complex life forms. All living beings have a certain degree of awareness and, generally speaking, the more physically complex a living being is, the more intense and expansive its awareness is. An insect has more awareness of reality than an amoeba; a bird probably has more awareness than an insect, and a human being has a more intense and expansive awareness of reality than a bird. This makes sense, since we have the most complex brains.

But evolution doesn’t end with human beings, of course. At some point in the future other beings will come into existence, with more consciousness than us in the same way that we have more awareness than birds or insects. And with their more intense awareness, they will perceive a different reality than us — a wider reality, including forces and fields and other phenomena which we can’t conceive of, but which may explain some of the strange goings on in our world.

The Neo-Darwinist Ideology

The fact that, despite their shaky foundations, the tenets of mechanistic science are clung to so tightly and presented so aggressively as “the truth” suggests that what we’re really dealing with is not objective science so much as an ideology.

The mechanistic view of the world has an enormous appeal because it has great explanatory power. To possess a complete and coherent picture of the world, which explains where we came from, who we are and what the world is, is a deep-rooted human need. On the one hand it gives us a sense of orientation and order, of knowing where we’ve come from and where we’re going. And on the other hand it gives us a sense of power over the world. Knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon said, and to feel that you completely understand nature and the world provides a satisfying sense of control, a feeling of superiority and dominion. Not knowing means living in uncertainty and confusion, and being subordinate to the mysterious forces of nature.

This is part of the reason why religious sects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Church of Scientology are so appealing to many people. They offer a complete, watertight, self-sufficient view of the world which banishes any sense of existential confusion and doubt. As Erich Fromm pointed out, “man’s awareness of himself as being in a strange and overpowering world” creates an intense need for a “cohesive frame of orientation” to explain the world (12). Until recent centuries religion provided this frame of orientation. The rise of science at the time of renaissance was so fiercely resisted partly because it blew apart the “complete explanation of everything” which the Christian worldview provided, and therefore threatened people’s sense of orientation and power over the world.

Ironically, in this respect the Neo-Darwinist Dawkinsian worldview functions in a similar way to the Christian worldview of 500 years ago, or the present day religious fundamentalism — precisely the worldview Dawkins attacks so vigorously in The God Delusion. Both perform the same psychological function, satisfying the same psychological need. As Dorothy Nelkin pointed out, “Evolutionary psychology is a quasi-religious narrative, providing a simple and compelling answer to complex and enduring questions. While represented as a scientific theory, it is rooted in a religious impulse to explain the meaning of life.” (13) Similarly, Lynn Margulis described Darwinism memorably as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect.” (14) This makes it clear why many adherents of scientific materialism react with such hostility to studies suggesting evidence for phenomena such as telepathy and precognition. (15) They’re reacting in a similar way to the popes and church leaders who tried Galileo and Giordano Bruno for heresy, trying to keep the “frame of orientation” which gives them a sense of meaning and security intact. The admission that telepathy or precognition might exist would destroy this, and leave them disoriented and impotent in the face of the world.

Dawkins and “Bad Faith”

This might seem strange after spending the last few thousand words criticizing him, but it wouldn’t seem fair to end this essay without mentioning the things I admire about Richard Dawkins.

I admire his clear and fluent prose style and his “no bullshit” approach to his subject matter. I admire his attempts to debunk religious beliefs and the vacuous intellectual posturings of post-modernist academics. And most of all, I admire his attempts to convince us that, in spite of the apparent bleakness of the mechanistic worldview, life is still full of meaning and worth living.

For him, meaning comes from the very fact that we are alive at all, when the odds against any of us coming into being in the first place are so massive. As he writes stirringly, “After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life” (16). His second source of meaning is the wonder of existence itself, the awe-inspiring complexity and intricacy of the world. Most of the time what he calls the “anesthetic of familiarity” dulls our minds to this, but if we could look at the world with “first-time vision” we would be continually amazed by its richness and strangeness. Dawkins believes that the purpose of our lives should be to contemplate and to study this wonder, to spend our “brief time in the sun” working towards “understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it.” (17) Again, this is a very inspiring sentiment.

In these passages Dawkins has a tone of stoic existentialism. He’s like Sartre encouraging us to value our freedom even though life is meaningless, or the German poet Rilke encouraging us to “praise in spite of.” But even here his attitude is dubious. He appears not to be facing up to the full consequences of his own view of the world; in fact, he is guilty of what Sartre called “bad faith.”

If we are nothing more than “throwaway survival machines,” if our lives have no other consequence than the replication of our genes, if life is just a “brief spotlight” and then we’re nothing for the rest of eternity, if the universe is empty and cold and purposeless, if (as Dawkins has written elsewhere) the “natural state” of the world is one of “starvation and misery” (18) and there’s no other causal force in the universe except blind chance — if this is all true, then no amount of complexity and intricacy can compensate us for it. To tell us to “count our blessings” and look at how intricate everything is like asking a prisoner in solitary confinement to look around in awe at the walls of his cells and feel grateful because they’re painted with bright colors. The most honest reaction to Dawkins’ view of the world — and to the worldview of materialistic science in general — would be not to bother getting out of bed in the morning, to commit suicide, or to try to escape from the bleak reality by taking drugs or chasing after ego-gratification and sensory thrills (which, of course, is what many people try to do).

But fortunately we don’t have to do any of these things, since it is very unlikely that “bleak reality” is the truth.

Beyond Mechanistic Science

A sceptic might justifiably ask: if you’re saying that evolution didn’t just happen by random mutations and natural selection, that consciousness isn’t just a product of the brain, or that telepathy or precognition are more than just wishful thinking, and so on, then how else are you going to explain these things?

The most sensible way of looking at all of these problems is to accept that we may not be able to answer them satisfactorily, because of the limitations of our intellect and our awareness. As I’ve suggested, it’s anthropocentric arrogance to believe that we can fully understand or explain the universe. Perhaps all we can do is to make pick up hints of an answer and make suggestions based on them.

If random mutations and natural selection don’t seem capable of explaining evolution, we may have to speculate — as Pierre-Paul Grasse did — that evolution is not wholly random, but directed by a self-organizing principle, an inherent tendency to move towards increasing complexity. Evolution can be pictured as a process of unfolding along predetermined lines, like the development of a human being from conception through to birth and then adult maturity.

One of the cornerstones of the mechanistic worldview is that what appears to us as consciousness is a product of brain activity. However, partly as a result of neuroscientists’ and philosophers’ failure to explain how the brain might be able to give rise to consciousness, some philosophers have suggested that consciousness may be, in essence, outside the brain. As David Chalmers suggests, we should perhaps see consciousness as a fundamental force of the universe, like gravity. According to this view, consciousness (or experience) may be essentially everywhere around us, at least in potential. As another philosopher, Robert Forman, has suggested, it may be that, rather than actually producing our awareness, the human brain — or the brain of any living being — acts as a kind of receiver or transmitter of awareness. It translates the raw essence of universal consciousness into an individuated awareness.

According to this view, evolution is a process by which organisms becoming more and more physically complex and in the process becoming capable of receiving and transmitting more consciousness. A speculative view of the origin of life, in these terms, would be that it occurred when inanimate matter became complex enough to act as a transmitter for consciousness — i.e., when the first single-celled organisms began to “receive” consciousness and as a result became aware of, and capable of reacting to and interacting with, their environment.

This could explain the puzzle of altruism too. If the essence of all living beings is the same universal consciousness then it’s not surprising that we have the ability to empathize with each other’s suffering and are prepared to sacrifice our own well-being for others’. Empathy and altruism are the consequence of our shared consciousness, which enables us to experience each other’s suffering and joy as if they are our own. As the philosopher Schopenhauer put it, “My own true inner being actually exists in every living creature, as truly and immediately known as my own consciousness in myself…This is the ground of compassion upon which all true, that is to say unselfish, virtue rests, and whose expression is in every good deed.”(19) And all of this fits closely with what Quantum physics tells us, of course: that we are all part of a single system, that we are all interconnected.

But these are just speculations and suggestions, which will probably never be confirmed. Ultimately we have to accept that we can only know so much, and perhaps not very much at that. We have to remember that we are still in Plato’s cave, looking at the shadows on the wall and mistaking them for reality.

Recommended Reading from Steve Taylor:

41JXX6SZBdL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_“An important and fascinating book about the origin, history and impending demise of the ego – humanity’s collective dysfunction. The Fall is highly readable and enlightening, as the author’s acute mind is at all times imbued with the higher faculty of spiritual awareness.”
— Eckhart Tolle



  1. Boyer, P. (2001). Religion Explained. London: Vintage, p. 299.
  2. Boehm, C. (1999). Hierarchy in the Forest. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p.69
  3. Woodburn, J. (1982). “Egalitarian Societies.” Man, 17, 431-51, p. 432
  4. Dawkins, R. (1998). Unweaving the Rainbow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, p. 212.
  5. van der Dennen, M.G. (1995). The Origin of War. Groningen: Origin Press, p. 595.
  6. Platon, N. (1966). Crete. Geneva: Nagel Publishers, p. 56.
  7. Eisler, R. (1987). The Chalice and the Blade. London: Thorsons, p.32
  8. Glancey, J. (2002). ’Wild at Heart: A Profile of Wilfred Thesiger.’ Retrieved from
  9. Dawkins, R. (1998). Unweaving the Rainbow. Boston:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, p. 60
  10. Dawkins, R. (2004). The Devil’s Chaplain. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p.19.
  11. Hawking, S. (1996).  A Brief History of Time. London: Transworld , p.126.
  12. For example, see Parker. A. & Brusewitz, G. (2003). A compendium of the evidence for psi. European Journal of Parapsychology. 18: 33-51. Or more recently, Mossbridge J, Tressoldi, P & Utts, J. (2012) Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis. Frontiers of Psychology 3: 390.
  13. Fromm, E. (1974). The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. London: Jonathan Cape, p. 264.
  14. Nelkin, D. (2000) “Less Selfish than Sacred: Genes and the Religious Impulse in Evolutionary Psychology.’ In Alas, Poor Darwin, Rose, H. & Rose, S. (Eds.), London: Jonathan Cape, p. 22.
  15. For instance, see the response to Daryl Bem’s research paper “Feeling the Future’
  16. Mann. C. (1991). “Lynn Margulis: Science’s Unruly Earth Mother.’ Science 252 (5004): 378–381.
  17. Dawkins, R. (1998) Unweaving the Rainbow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, p. 6.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden. New York: Basic Books, p. 133
  20. Schopenhauer, A. (2015). “On the Basis of Morality.’ Retrieved from

Tomorrow’s Full Moon in Cancer: Feeling Focused

We are the walking wounded. Exposed to all manner of salts. Tears. Oceans. Irritants. Disinfectants. Cleansers.

We trip over the graves of one another’s un-grieved sorrows. Unknowingly. Knowingly. Raising ghosts of the past. Unresolved woe. Stirring all manner of emotional hornets nests.

These stirrings, these little earthquakes, these eruptions of feelings can overtake us. Wipe us out. Wipe us clean of the residue that has built up.

We have no control over what flips our emotional switches on. But once lit, our feelings carry potent lessons if we know how to learn from them. Once lit, our emotions can lead us back to the wounds we originally incurred if we know how to track them. Once lit, our senses can send us the information we have been too busy avoiding for fear of having to re-live the pain we try so desperately to escape.

But, the only way out is through.

How we work with this aspect of our experience depends on our nature and the way we’ve been nurtured. The power of our emotions is undeniable. Our ability to work with that power is in large part dependent on the opportunities and guidance we’ve been given to do so. Developing a mature response to our emotions takes time. A life-time. And a desire to do so.

Developing the ability to hold our emotional reactions long enough to understand them takes practice. We need patience and strength to sit with our feelings. We need to develop the sturdiness of character to allow that kind of process to move through us. Especially if we have grown up with excessive trauma and/or adults that were unable to do so for themselves.

Eventually we have to decide what we want to do with our feelings. Do we use them to justify our bad behavior or do we use them as gateways to greater self-awareness? Developing our ability to detect and identify our feelings is of paramount importance. We have to know that we have a feeling before we can begin to understand it.

The full moon in Cancer arrives 3:34 AM PT on Thursday, January 12th, peaking at 22° of the crab’s sign. Cancer feels. Everything. All the time. It feels what you forgot to feel. It feels the music that is too loud, the lights that are too bright, the too-scratchy tag in the shirt its lover is wearing. Cancer cares. Too much. Too tenderly. Too exposed to walk through the world, Cancer needs its shell. Needs to curl in. To sort out its feelings from the feelings of others. To understand its emotional reactions. To digest all the different sensations that it encounters, making sense of their meaning. Cancer needs to cry. It’s like breathing for most other creatures. Its water ducts are always at the ready. Ready to release the excess of water it carries.

This full moon sits with the goddess asteroid, Vesta. Goddess of the hearth, keeper of the flame, devoted servant and patron of priestesses, devotees and ritualist of all cloths, Vesta helps us pull focus and dedicate ourselves to something greater than ourselves. In Cancer, Vesta is focused on the feelings of the moment.

The full moon sits in a cardinal grand cross with Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto. It lights up some of the larger, more disruptive themes of 2017.

Currently in a tug of war, astrologically known as an opposition, Jupiter and Uranus produce unforeseen and unpredictable growth. Shocking and abrupt, Uranus in Aries tries to tip the scales of Jupiter in Libra’s even-keeled and equitable plan for expansion. Jupiter being the planet closely connected to our ideas, ethics and morals, opposed by Uranus, the planet known for its inventive experimentalism, may inject into the world all manner of new beliefs, both intriguing and unfathomable.

Gas-lighting can thrive under the shock and awe of Uranus’s derailing influences making it supremely important to be devoted to knowing our emotional reality. 

The moon square Uranus and Jupiter makes the disruptions all the more felt. It makes our emotions all the more exaggerated. It makes this full moon in Cancer all the more emotionally unpredictable and all the more likely to receive an emotional wake-up call.

The moon in opposition to Pluto sets up a dynamic that makes the need to empty out our emotional storehouses impossible to ignore. The moon in opposition to Pluto makes emotions all the more intense. The moon in opposition to Pluto makes it all the more obvious what grief we need to allow ourselves to grieve.

In Cancer, the moon is at home and able to maximize its effect. When working with the moon we can open to our own intuitive and psychic capabilities, heal old wounds and learn what we need in order to feel at home in our lives. Conjunct Vesta, this full moon reminds us of the importance of tending to the sacred fire that is at the center of our lives. Our hearts. Many winds will try to blow us about, much chaos will try to avert our gaze from the truth, but, if we are focused on what matters to us, focused on what we know to be true, in our heart of hearts, we cannot and will not be lead astray.

Full moon blessings,


A Short Rant on Tolerance.

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Tolerance—this seemingly benign word now makes my skin crawl.

We are told to be tolerant of the choices of others; their religious, social, political choices and more.

But here’s the thing: tolerance has come to mean something far from its definition.

Tolerance is defined as a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices,  racial or ethnic origins, differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. 

I’m all for that definition. But ask most people what they think of when they think of tolerance and you will get something that is far closer to “putting up with” than what the dictionary says. The word has morphed from its commonly understood meaning. When I say that I tolerate the heat or okra, no one believes that I like either.

I don’t want someone to “put up with” my choices and beliefs, all the while thinking they are better than me. Yet tolerance now has a distinct smell of superiority. Of those being oh so generous in allowing someone else to live with the same freedoms they hold dear for themselves.

Can you smell it, the whiff of disdain? The scent of the other whom we don’t quite trust but have decided to tolerate?

Can you feel the distance between yourself and them?

Tolerance doesn’t lead to conversations or questions. It has become a closed loop with “us” on the inside and everyone else outside.

In our 21st century understanding of tolerance, we decide we will be tolerant and go no further. We don’t stop to ask questions or try to understand any idea that is different from what we believe. We don’t see the individual beyond the label of whatever it is we are being tolerant of.

We decide that being tolerant is enough. But is it?

Would it be enough for you?

Do you want your faith, race, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or world view to be tolerated? Or do you want to engage in meaningful, civil conversation about the things we see differently?

Our politicians espouse tolerance while simultaneously enacting laws that discriminate against entire communities— undocumented people, Muslims, refugees and those in the LGBTQ community.

But words matter. Words have weight and power.

Words can illuminate or hide our intentions.

Listen carefully when you hear the word tolerance used and you will find that it’s usually the end of a conversation rather than the beginning.

Listen carefully and you will hear how often that word is used to dismiss an idea or a people.

Listen carefully and you will hear that what we need isn’t what tolerance has come to mean, but what it actually does mean.

When we settle for what tolerance has come to mean, we often forget that to someone else our way of being and doing may not be their ideal. When we remember that to someone we are the one being tolerated, we start to expand our capacity to reclaim the original meaning of the word. We start to examine our responses to differing ways of being through the prisms of fairness and objectivity.

It’s as simple, and as challenging, as asking the question, “Would I want to be treated, or thought of, in the way I am treating this person?”

That old golden rule once again rears its head.

And in case you are thinking that tolerance is only about us being kinder to others, I would argue that it is, at heart, also about being kinder to ourselves. When we expand our capacity for true tolerance toward others, we also expand our ability to judge ourselves less harshly. We become more able to look at the places where we are uncomfortable with our own attitudes or behavior with a compassion that allows us to begin to heal those internal friction points.

In this fractured world we need to find our way back to real tolerance. Tolerance that comes from our willingness to extend to others the same consideration we want ourselves. Tolerance that comes from listening to those with whom we disagree.

Listening, not with the intention to change their point of view or our own, but rather to deeply understand. And to do that we need to pause. We need to take time to consider what we’ve heard and find the part of us that can sincerely and respectfully agree to disagree.

We need tolerance that truly reflects an openness of mind and heart, and the understanding that our way of thinking, doing and being, is just that—our way. Not the best or only way. Just ours.


Author: Omkari Williams

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Editor: Nicole Cameron

If you Love her, Don’t Destroy Her.

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“If I ever loved a woman, the more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her. Frida was only the most obvious victim of this disgusting trait.” ~ Diego Rivera


I know you love her.

If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be with her. But since you’re only a human being with variable emotions, you might be inclined to love her in all the wrong ways.

A healthy, happy relationship can transform into a destructive one if you treat her less than how she deserves to be treated.

Nonetheless, I hope you try to love her right. I hope you cast every ray of awareness upon your love for her. I hope you know that awareness is what keeps a relationship strong.

I want you to remember how she looked when you first laid eyes on her. She was everything you longed for. Be it her beauty, her wild nature, her sense of humor or her independence, there’s something about her you haven’t found in anyone else.

And what floored you the most was her completeness.

If you love her, keep her this way. Keep her beautiful, keep her wild, keep her complete.

While she’s the master of her own fate, I wish you understood that you play a major role in her life. How you treat her determines how she views herself—you can make her shine or make her feel lost. She’s a statue in your hands and she only hopes to be held with vigilance.

If you love her, don’t destroy her.

Know that she was destroyed before and another destruction isn’t what she’s aiming for. If she’s with you, know that she has stepped over her fear and insecurities to be with you. She has stepped over her past and decided to give love another chance. She has entrusted you with the health of this relationship—and with her heart.

Don’t let her down.

You destroy her the moment you think you know her. She’s not a book you will eventually finish. She’s something yet to be discovered—so live every day as if you’re meeting her for the first time.

Be present. Nothing destroys her more than your emotional absence. You can sit with her all day long and not really be there, yet you can be so far away and be completely present.

Stimulate her thoughts, her emotions, her being. Dive into her soul like you’d dive into an ocean.

Know that you’ll wreck her if she ever felt you need her rather than want her. You’ll destroy every inch of her if you only love her when loneliness creeps up on you. Because she seeks your love in all moments, not just when your fears and insecurities strike.

I know that your own past sufferings may have destroyed you. But don’t love her just so she can carry your emotional baggage with you. Don’t love her if you only want her to fix you. Know that she will, with time, without you even knowing.

Her love and existence will heal every part of you. But if you are with her solely to fill the emptiness inside you, she will know—and it will destroy her.

And remember, she doesn’t want to be fixed either. Maybe she opened up to you and told you about her painful past. Perhaps you know the exact number of pieces she was turned into. But she didn’t tell you so you would fix her—she only told you so you can know what she endured and how it made her who she is today.

She wants you to acknowledge that your actions toward her—actions motivated by love, understanding and patience—are what matter.

Don’t treat her like a broken woman. She is complete with all her pieces, even though they may still be scattered everywhere. Embrace them with her—just don’t add to them. Make her see why she went through destructive relationships in the past. Make her realize that she went through the “worst” so she could appreciate the “better” that you are.

If you love her, love her with all her flaws and insecurities. She is as imperfect as you are and she only hopes to share that imperfection with you. She wants to undress her soul in front of you and be utterly herself.

She wants to be the same way with you that she is in the mirror—crazy, wild and free. If you’re not ready to accept her as she is, you will destroy her.

If you love her, build her up because she will be doing the same for you. Know that whatever effort you put in, she will be putting in double.

If you show her the moon, she’ll show you the entire galaxy.

If you take her to a well, she’ll introduce you to the ocean.

If you treat her right, she’ll love you more.

If you love her well, she’ll never forget you.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: YouTube

Editor: Nicole Cameron