Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Review: Are We Just Bubbles?

Are We Just Bubbles? – Author, Dan Bowlds.

A review by Mena Koo.

(A note from Mena: I had to skip the technical portions of the book and lock in on stuff that I could understand and follow. I think it’s fair to say that the reader has to be highly motivated to read books like these.)

When dealing with science and scientists, they are allowed to say: I don't know or we don't know the science of that so we don't have the answer to that. When dealing with Metaphysics and Spirituality, we get to use the imagination and we get to allow the intellect to have a bit of fun. Kind of like science fiction writers, I suppose. It was no less than Einstein who encouraged this in us saying, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Knowledge is the past; imagination is the future.

If everything is alive and conscious, and if everything and everyone is connected, it follows that the collective consciousness is a reality. This would be what is known as the “universal intelligence.”  Most people call this God, yes, for want of a better name. But most metaphysically inclined people prefer not to use the word God for it is too connected to organized religion. We just say “the Universe.”

The chapters in Dan’s book mainly cover the technical aspects of how the Universe works. This will be primarily of interest to the scientific community, but even the non-scientific should know enough about how it works to understand that our physical world is an illusion. An illusion, in that it is all made up of something we can't see, and it is only through the action of a creative “expansion energy” that it exists. Dan offers his views to any who is willing and who wants to explore a different way to consider our existence.

I have been interested in Dan’s book and lecture videos as I sought to discover things he mentions that might be in common with what I believe. I would like to take the stance that either extreme is wrong. That those who say there is no God and those who say there is a personified God are both on the extreme ends. I like to believe the truth is again in the middle. I like to believe there is a Creator but what is this Creator that pumps all the energy into the space bubbles — the space bubbles that go on expanding into the infinite void?

I quote a commenter from a recent Facebook post, who has given me permission to quote him but who doesn’t want to be identified here: Prof. Kaku seems to assign a position to Einstein that he did not in fact hold. Einstein certainly believed in free will. Kaku overlooks the fact that free will is still possible in a fully deterministic universe because accurately determining what will happen next in such a universe requires full knowledge of the system. Kurt Godel showed that no entity within the system can possess such knowledge. Granted, an entity outside the system might possess such knowledge but said entity then could not interact with the system in any way since by doing so it would become part of the system. Thus free will is not only possible but pretty much unavoidable.

I was struck by this comment as it explained in a scientific way why God if he does indeed exist, is so absent from our planetary affairs. If this God is outside of our “finite universe,” pumping in absolute energy into our expanding space bubbles, this God cannot micro manage to answer our prayers. This is why our world is in such a state and this is why believers find it hard to let go of their versions of God. In hard times, humans need a crutch to lean on, to draw strength from. We don’t want to feel destitute in our misery.

Godel proved that no part of an isolated system can contain a complete description of the system, except, of course, the entire system itself. Thus an all-knowing God cannot exist within the universe of which it is all knowing. Since interacting with the universe requires one to be part of it, it is clear such a God cannot interact with the universe either.

"Since interacting with the universe requires one to be part of it, it is clear such a God cannot interact with the universe either."

I thought this explains a lot. While there is no God micro-managing us, I need to stress that I believe in a kind of cosmic justice. Just because there is no personified God to punish humans for doing evil, it doesn’t mean that humans are not penalized for bad decisions and actions. I believe in cause and effect (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction) and I believe in Karma (even if Karma can be transformed in a lifetime). Our own actions and behavior will either reward us or punish us. What goes around comes around and the law of attraction applies.

Dan’s view is we are all connected, and we must make a giant leap into the next level of our understanding of consciousness and social evolution if we are to survive on this planet. Dan says, without kindness, love, willingness to seek the truth, and tolerance of others, he would never have come to this realization.

In ‘Are We Just Bubbles?’ Dan presents the possibility of an unseen dimension and expansion of space that might be the underlying cause of all that the Universe is. It is not the author’s intent to “prove” any of what he is proposing. The author feels if what he proposes cannot be disproved, then the certainty of what we now think the Universe is, based upon our measurements, comes into question.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My First Editions

Two years ago, my first digital editions were offered on my own platform. I created a website to make my digital books available to Malaysians for whom Kindle books are not available. I toyed with the idea of offering the platform to other writers whose Amazon digital books were also unavailable in their own countries. I did not know of Smashwords then. Smashwords makes digital books available all over the world, in multiple formats which can be downloaded several times over as many days.

People then asked, what about printed books? How was I going to make those available if I didn’t use the PODs (Print on Demand) portals on the internet? I put off creating the paperbacks then as my first editions were not professionally edited. I paid good money for my first edition book covers as I didn't want to distract from the several levels of editing and dozens of proofreading runs that I had to do for practical reasons. There was difficulty in finding a local editor who could resonate with my content and the foreign quotations (not that they were a match for my genre) were simply outrageous. At the time, I was surrounded by sharks in the industry and couldn’t afford the 8-9 cents a word they were going to charge me for editing. Insane, right? I thought I would do my best on my own and just put the book(s) out there to test the market.

It was a blessing in disguise that my website didn’t take off. My website was hosted on a Malaysian server and we would have had to pay Malaysian income taxes. I’m better off now that I’m on Amazon and Smashwords since income earned overseas is not taxable locally. Since Amazon and IngramSpark printed books are so expensive to ship outside of the USA and Europe, I’m going to have to photocopy and bind my manuscripts for sale locally. This is the only way to make the book marketable locally.

I’ve never been able to work the Facebook friend thing. Now that Amazon doesn’t allow Facebook friends to leave reviews, I can’t see myself suddenly getting excited over a Facebook friendship. I like that we are able to exchange messages without being Facebook friends. The only advantages to being Facebook friends, it seems to me, is that we get to tag our friends on various posts and we get to send posts in private messages. Other than those features, it’s all the same friend or no friend. 

I’m told Amazon's search engine algorithms are driven by keywords and reviews and that both help with the book’s discoverability. Yet, reviews are merely opinions and are subjective. Reviews are only as good as the reviewers or as good as the reviewers invest the time to make them. I just got a review from a friend for whom English is the third language. The comments are positive but the review itself needs editing! Being his third language, I can’t place a lot of value on his opinions of my ideas, can I?

When I first got on the self-publishing scene, the various writers’ groups were all about “you read my book, I read your book; you review mine and I’ll review yours.” I couldn’t play that game as a) I’m in a country that cannot download Kindle books. b) I couldn’t read other indie authors’ books so they weren’t going to read mine. c) I thought that I couldn’t exchange reviews with other authors even if they sent me the PDFs as Amazon wouldn’t allow reviews unless the book was purchased on Amazon.  (I was mistaken. As long as someone has spent USD 50.00 on Amazon on any purchase not necessarily books, that person can leave a review. The idea behind this is the person may have purchased the book from a different portal.) d) Even if the authors were interested in accepting my reviews off of Amazon, I found I simply couldn’t invest my time reading fiction genres. I read to remember; most of those books are for people who read to forget. Clearly, if I wasn’t going to read their books, they were not going to read mine. That was the mood of the writer forums.

This time around, with my second edition (my first on Amazon and Smashwords), my experience is different. I stumbled upon Dan Bowlds who authored Are We Just Bubbles? It was a book about “An Alternate View of Existence.” It was non-fiction, about the Universe and energy and in Dan’s words, “we (he and I) are both searching for answers to questions that have plagued mankind since the dawning of our consciousness: How we are here, why we are here, what is to become of us. Each of us has to seek the answers to these questions in our own way, and one that satisfies us. There are no wrong ways, except when we deny our own reasoning and logic to falsely gain the favor of someone trying to force their beliefs on us. Above all, we have to have a humble heart and be thankful for our existence.” Here was a book that I thought I could interest myself in reading and reviewing.

Here’s Dan’s review of my book:

Mena Koo's “The Dance of the Chi”, is about her journey of “going where the imagination, magic, and mystery are” through the practice of Tai Chi. It is written chronologically with current updates interspersed, and is a history of her progression from the early practice of Tai Chi for health and self-awareness reasons, to a higher level of meditation and spiritual enlightenment. She believes that Chi is a vital yin and yang force, two energies that operate the Universe to make it whole, and through the practice of Tai Chi, we can tap into this infinite energy of the Universe. 

She has written this book to share her Tai Chi experience so that others may benefit from what she has learned. The book is interspersed with her poems and songs which are a good read in themselves. I would recommend this book to students of Tai Chi who also want to develop their metaphysical spirituality.

Dan admitted his book review is very brief and wanted to make sure that I am okay with what he has said. Dan added he went through my book rather quickly and highlighted points that he thought were important, then wrote the summary from his take on what he surmised from the notes. Dan apologized if what he has said is not correct and asked if I would like him to change anything in his review.

I have declined Dan’s offer as I want reviews to be as authentic as possible. I now appreciate why Amazon doesn’t allow friends to review books. Friends tend to do favors for each other and they would write biased reviews which would not be fair to the purchasing public. I also appreciate that writing reviews are not easy things to do if we want to do them honestly. It’s a huge responsibility all around, whichever way one views it.

I see that Dan has left out many major ideas in The Dance of the Chi of which I’m particularly fond of. I feel that his review tends to limit my audience. I feel that ‘My EFAW Theory’ and ‘My Outer Space Experience’ is not limited to Tai Chi students. I feel the chapter ‘Differences and Similarities of Tai Chi and Yoga’ and the ‘Healing Therapies’, among many other ideas, are not limited to Tai Chi students. My philosophy of life throughout the book is also not limited to Tai Chi students.