“After all, if you do not resist
the apparently inevitable,
you will never know how
inevitable the inevitable was.”
“The future doesn’t belong
to the fainthearted.
It belongs to the brave.”
The book I am going to write about today is as much unusual as it is of vital importance, and written by a former Stanford Medical School professor Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D., a renowned cell biologist, who conducted scientific research into the link between mind and matter, and how the cells inside our body, our DNA, are affected by our thoughts. His findings show a ‘missing link’ between life and consciousness. It is the science of how thoughts control life and The Biology of Belief is his book’s title. It is universally accepted that genes and DNA do not control our biology, instead, they are controlled by signals from outside the cells, including powerful messages coming from our thoughts. These findings provide us with knowledge of how to achieve a healthy and happy life. When we transform our conscious and subconscious thoughts, we not only transform our lives but we help humanity to evolve to a new level of understanding and tolerance.
He received the Goi Peace Award (2009), and USA Book News Best Science Book (2016).
BRUCE H. LIPTON Ph.D.
Born on 21 October 1944 in Mount Kisco, New York, USA
Bruce Lipton’s interest in science started when at seven years old he was introduced at school to a microscope. While other children were excited to see ‘something’, and then moved on and forgot about it, he saw the organism shown there not as a cell but as a thinking, sentient being. As he recalled, this single-celled organism appeared to him to be on a mission, although what kind of mission he didn’t know. This ordinary, everyday school experience transformed his life and gave a direction to his future. He begged his mum to buy him a microscope and when he got one, he would spend hours mesmerised by this secretive world that he could access only through the eye of the optical instrument.
Later, while a research scientist at a university laboratory, he could use a complex microscope that was a massive, foot-thick chromium steel column of electromagnetic lenses that rose to the ceiling in the centre of the lab. While his professor guided him through the maze of cells, “Here’s a mitochondrion, there’s a Golgi body, over there is a nuclear pore, this is collagen molecule, that’s a ribosome.” This electron microscope brought him face to face with molecules that were the foundation of life itself. Somehow, without understanding how, he knew that the cell mysteries were going to be his future.
(a) Most light microscopes in a college biology lab can magnify cells up to approximately 400 times and have a resolution of about 200 nanometres. (b) Electron microscopes provide much higher magnification, 100,000 times, and have a resolution of 50 picometres.
His prediction materialised throughout his professional life. Lipton’s exploration of the “secrets of life” led him into a research career studying the character of cloned human cells. When in 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick described the structure and function of the DNA double helix, biologists became extremely excited, and the thought that DNA controls biological life became dogma. To cut it short – if you were born with a defective happiness gene, you were expected to have an unhappy life!
At that time, Lipton was having an incredibly stressful time in his life. With disastrous events piling up one after another, and close to a mental breakdown, he found a way out by escaping to teach at a Medical School in the Caribbean, on a short sabbatical post. His delight at landing at a tiny paradise island, Montserrat.
He described his new home as a Garden of Eden, surrounded by the sparkling aquamarine sea, and with balmy air filled with the scent of masses of gardenias. Reading his description of coming out of rat-race industrialised America, to this heavenly land, where the late afternoon was devoted to quiet meditation by the natives, a habit he readily adopted, and after a swim in warm, ‘gin-clear’ water, he watched the sun setting slowly into the sea. Like a carefree child, he again felt the pleasure of being alive. The pastimes included snorkelling among the jewelled coral reefs which allowed him to observe the integration of plants and animal species, living in utmost harmony.
Lipton’s next few years were spent going to and fro from the Caribbean to the U.S. and back, lurching into music shows production and having a time of looking for something different. Luckily, he realised that science, research, and teaching, were all the things he was good at and he came back to it. He also started to think that we are not the victims of our genes, but masters of our fates, and we could create lives full of happiness and love and peace. He decided to test this theory by making himself happy.
Lipton analysed his thinking of cells as human-like and was humbled by the complexity and power of seemingly simple, moving blobs in a petri dish. The basic components of a cell are – the nucleus that contains genetic material, the energy-producing mitochondria, the protective membrane at the outside rim, and the cytoplasm in between. But within these anatomically simple-looking cells is a complex world; these smart cells use technologies that scientists have yet to fully fathom. Those smart cells are actively seeking environments that support their survival while avoiding hostile ones. They can survive on their own when a single cell is removed from a body and grown in a culture.
It isn’t surprising that cells are so smart. Single-cell organisms were the first life form on earth. The fossil evidence is proof they were here around 600 million years after our planet was formed. For the next 2.75 billion years of Earth history, only free-living, single cell-organisms – bacteria, algae, and amoeba-like protozoans – populated the world. These smart cells became smarter when the first multicellular organism, plants and animals appeared.
Above is an artist’s impression of the primordial soup, in which the first life on Earth may have originated, and below are biomolecules, which may have been precursors to life.
The latest scientific findings, which Lipton had already discovered thirty years ago, maintain that the membrane is the true brain of the cellular operation. The latest research suggests that one day, this knowledge will lead to greatly important medical breakthroughs.
His book covers so many interesting topics of life, the biosphere, and nature, that it is easy to understand the immense popularity of his lectures and he toured the world to spread the awareness of how we can profoundly change our lives for the better. Here are examples of co-operation in the biosphere but it would work as well for humans. The pistol shrimp gathers the food while its partner, the yellow gobi fish protects it from predators,
and a species of hermit crab that carries a pink anemone on top of its shell. Fish and octopuses like to feed on hermit crabs, but when they approach this species, the anemone shoots out its brilliantly coloured tentacles, with their microscopic batteries of poisoned darts, and stings the potential predator, encouraging it to look elswere for its meal. The anemone gets to eat the leftovers of the crab’s food.
Lipton writes how stress can make us dangerously ill, and how he actively monitored where he was expending his brain’s energy. We can harness the power of our mind and make it more effective than the drugs we have been programmed to believe we need. He rightly believes that energy is a more efficient means of affecting matter than chemicals. Genes don’t control biology. Yet, he warns that just ‘positive thinking ‘ leads always to physical cures. You need more to harness control of your body and your life. It is important, in his view, for our health and well-being to shift our mind’s energy towards positive, life-generating thought and eliminate the ever-present, energy-draining and debilitating negative thoughts. But, the mere thinking of positive thoughts will not necessarily have any impact on our lives at all.
Lipton’s theory is that we must understand that the seemingly ‘separate’ subdivisions of the mind, the conscious and the subconscious, are interdependent. The conscious mind – which represents the seat of our personal identity, source, or spirit – is the creative mind. It can see into the future, review the past, or disconnect from the present moment as it solves problems in our head. In its creative capacity, the conscious mind holds our wishes, desires, aspirations for our lives. It is the mind that conjures up our ‘positive thoughts.’
“In contrast, the subconscious mind is primarily a repository of stimulus-response tapes derived from instincts and learned experiences. The subconscious mind is fundamentally habitual; it will play the same behavioural responses to life’s signals over and over again, much to our chagrin. The subconscious mind is more than a million times more powerful than the conscious mind. If the desires of the conscious mind conflict with the programs in the subconscious mind, which ‘mind’ do you think will win out? You can repeat the positive affirmation that you are lovable over and over or that your cancer tumour will shrink. But if, as a child, you repeatedly heard that you were worthless and sickly, those messages programmed in your subconscious mind will undermine your best conscious efforts to change your life.”
“I believe the greatest problem we face is that we think we are running our lives with the wishes, desires, and aspirations created by our conscious mind. When we struggle or fail to obtain our goals, we are generally led to conclude that we are victims of outside forces preventing us from reaching our destination. However, neuroscience has now established that the conscious mind runs the show, at best, only about 5 percent of the time. It turns out that the programs acquired by the subconscious mind shape 95% or more of our life experiences.
Since subconscious programs operate without the necessity of observation or control by the conscious mind, we are completely unaware that our subconscious minds are making our everyday decisions. Our lives are essentially a printout of our subconscious programs, behaviors that were fundamentally acquired from others (our family, and community) before we were six years old.”
In this extract, Lipton writes about the complementary work of Candace Pert:
“At the same that I was studying the mechanics of the cell’s brain and gaining insight into the operation of the human brain, Candace Pert was studying the human brain and becoming aware of the mechanics of the cell’s brain. In Molecules of Emotion, Pert revealed how her study of information-processing receptors on nerve cell membranes led her to discover that the same ‘neutral’ receptors were present on most, if not all, of the body’s cells. Her elegant experiments established that the ‘mind’ was not focused in the head but was distributed via signal molecules to the whole body. As importantly, her work emphasised that emotions were not only derived through the feedback of the body’s environmental information. Through self-consciousness, the mind can use the brain to generate ‘molecules of emotion’ and override the system. While proper use of consciousness can bring health to an ailing body, inappropriate unconscious control of emotions can easily make a healthy body diseased.”
In this interesting extract, Lipton tackles our beliefs that ‘doctor knows better’:
“The placebo effect should be a major topic of study in medical school. I believe that medical education should train doctors to recognise the power of our internal resources. Doctors should not dismiss the power of the mind as something inferior to the power of chemicals and scalpel. They should let go of their conviction that the body and its parts are essentially stupid and that we need intervention to maintain our health. I believe the reason the mind has so summarily been dismissed in medicine is the result not only of dogmatic thinking, but also of financial considerations. If the power of your mind can heal your sick body, why should you go to the doctor, more importantly, why would you need to buy drugs?”
This extract extols the power of our beliefs:
“Our positive and negative beliefs not only impact our health but also every aspect of our life. Consider the people who walk across coals without getting burned. If they wobble in the steadfastness of their belief that they can do it, they wind up with burned feet. Your beliefs act like filters on a camera, changing how you see the world. And your biology adapts to those beliefs. When we truly recognise that our beliefs are that powerful, we hold the key to freedom. While we cannot readily change the codes of our genetic blueprints, we can change our minds and, in the process, switch the blueprint used to express our genetic potential.
Don’t try this at home!!
“My point is that you can choose what to see, you can filter your life with rose-coloured beliefs that will help your body grow or you can use a dark filter that turns everything black and makes your body/mind more susceptible to disease. You can live a life of fear or live a life of love. You have the choice! But I can tell you that if you choose to see a world full of love, your body will respond by growing in health. Learning how to harness your mind to promote growth is the secret of life, which is why I called this book The Biology of Belief. Of course, the secret of life is not a secret at all. Teachers like Buddha and Jesus have been telling us the same story for millennia. Now science is pointing in the same direction. It is not our genes but our beliefs that control our lives. Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a happy, healthy life.”
Giant Buddha statue in Hong Kong
In this extract, Lipton describes his moment of enlightenment when he had to visit a chiropractor after a serious motorbike accident:
“I resembled a yelping version of Quasimodo. One of my students suggested that it might help if I visited his roommate, a fellow student, who was also a chiropractor. I not only have never been to a chiropractor, I had been taught by my allopathic community to shun chiropractors as quacks. But when you are in that much pain, you wind up trying things you would never consider in your cushier moments. At the chiropractor’s makeshift dormitory ‘office’ I was introduced for the first time to kinesiology, popularly known as muscle testing. The chiropractor told me to hold out my arm and resist the downward pressure he applied to it. I had no problem resisting the light force he put on my arm. Then he asked me to hold out my arm and resist him again while I said ‘My name is Bruce’. Again, I had no trouble resisting him, but by now I was starting to think that the admonishments of my academic colleagues were right on the mark – ‘This is nuts!’ Then, the chiropractor told me to hold out my arm and resist pressure while saying earnestly, ‘My name is Mary’. To my amazement, my arm flopped down, despite my strong resistance. ‘Now wait a minute,’ I said. ‘I must not have been resisting enough, try that again.’ We did, and this time I concentrated even more forcefully on resisting. Nevertheless, after repeating, ‘My name is Mary’, my arm sank like a stone. This student, who was now my teacher, explained that when your conscious mind has a belief that is in conflict with a formerly learned ‘truth’ stored in the subconscious mind, the intellectual conflict expresses itself as a weakening of the body’s muscles. To my astonishment, I realised that my conscious mind was not in control when I voiced an opinion that differed from a truth stored in the unconscious mind. More shocking was the fact that this hidden mind was actually more powerful than my conscious mind.
I wanted to add here just a little intervention as we are talking about keeping the body healthy and I am a great admirer of the greatest of nature’s gifts to mankind – Garlic.
Recently scientists discovered that organic garlic prevents the harmful side effects of antibiotics, and also that it enhances the body’s response to further use of them. This prevents the body from not responding to the often essential further future treatment.
To summarise, Bruce Lipton’s book offers a breakthrough discovery of how to take full responsibility for our lives, our health, and our happiness. No drugs needed.
At the end, I give you the wisdom-words of Mahatma Gandhi:
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny