The brain is made up of three major parts: the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain stem.
Scientists believe that consciousness depends on the constant transmission of chemical signals from the brainstem and thalamus to the cerebrum.
A vegetative state is a type of coma that represents an awake but unresponsive state of consciousness.
Catatonia - People in this state do not move or speak, and tend not to make eye contact with others.
If you answered YES to one or more of these questions, you may have an anger issue that requires professional attention.  We encourage you to contact Dr. Men and women with wide faces tend to be more aggressive, dominant and angry, according to British research. Psychologists think the aggressive trait is linked to the evolutionary benefit of having thick cheekbones found in wider faces such as that of footballer Wayne Rooney. The traditional way of the animal kingdom is that males rule, and females reap the benefits of being pampered baby-makers. Traditionally, when this kind of dominant or 'bullying' behavior occurs, the largest and strongest of a group are the instigators. Petty and evolutionary anthropologist Christine Drea then tested 30 lemurs from six closely-related lemur species in all. Predictably, they found that the dominant females from the lady-run species had significantly higher male hormone levels than the females from the two remaining groups. In other creatures, like birds, elevated testosterone often means the young need to be aggressive to survive.
For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN). Then a few years ago, while visiting friends in southern Spain, I was lent a book of talks by Shaha€™s brother, Omar Ali-Shah.
One of Ali-Shaha€™s main group centres is at the Andalusian town of Arcos in southern Spain. My impression of the Arcos centre, named a€?la Zaharaa€™, is predominantly my impression of the people I met, although the tekkia and gardens were certainly impressive in their own right. Some of the stories I heard involved a€?naibsa€™ (deputies) who had a€?gone off the railsa€™.
A superficially unrelated conversation about the the Nazi period in German history revealed a similar thread: that by attracting the opprobrium of the world, Nazism became the worlda€™s scapegoat.
A young Argentinian woman currently living in England told me of her fascination with the Green Man figure in European and middle Eastern folklore, who goes under the name variously of Elias, Merlin and Khidr. There was a discussion about the tensions that arise between men and women over their difference in sexual energy. This permissiveness, if not downright encouragement, of alcohol consumption in a Sufi community which regards itself as traditional would seem to suggest that classical Sufi references to wine and intoxication need not be taken solely as allegory, despite protestations to this effect from the Shah brothers themselves. Ali-Shaha€™s followers do not speak of any other Sufi groups than their own as representing a€?the Traditiona€™, though this is not to say that other groups are not thought valid in this context.
On the long drive back through stunning mountain scenery down to the coast, Greg and I had plenty of opportunity to talk about our impressions of La Zahara. Many of these patients were comatose previously and after a few days or weeks emerge to an unconscious state in which their eyelids are open, giving the impression that they are awake. With psychological attention and skilled guidance, you can be free from the anger that has controlled you. Cristiano is well trained and experienced in treating all of the emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects of anger.
Of course, there are always exceptions, especially among birds, arachnids, and even humans. They are not larger, stronger, or more deadly than their male counterparts, so what could it be that gives them a knack for dominance? Like most mammals, female lemurs have significantly less testosterone than males regardless of their location or species.
In four of the species, females are at the top of the pecking order, and in the other two species the sexes have equal status.
A similar pattern may have occurred with some lemurs, with it eventually leading to an intriguing change in who dominates who.
I found them fascinating, if frustrating, because Shah always emphasised the likelihood of ending up in an imitation, not a real, Sufi group, if one did not approach Sufism with the correct attitude. Historically Andalusia has been a key area of Sufi activity, where Sufi ideas and influences penetrated Europe in the middle ages through the high culture of the Moors. During our short stay I had a number of conversations with people from various parts of Europe and particularly South America, where Ali-Shah concentrated most of his efforts. One woman told me how she and her husband had left their group in Munich because of the cultish conditions developing there under the influence of one of these naibs. Standard history does not reveal the degree to which political ideas similar to those of the Nazis were current in the very countries that fought them (Hitler could not have regenerated the German economy, for example, without heavy capitalisation from sympathetic American bankers). She said that she used to plague Ali-Shah with questions about this and other esoteric matters, and that his response was almost invariably to refuse to answer, at least not directly. I contributed the wise results of my own experience, as one does, but heard one rather striking thing: men have ten times as much testosterone in their bodies as women.
One of the friends told me about a meeting with Bektashi dervishes on a group trip to Turkey.
This was quite a contrast to the informal atmosphere in and around the bar and eating area.
In Sufism the teacher is regarded as indispensible, but there is always the danger of producing dependence in his followers. I suppose that in the broad sense any truly developmental influence is likely to come from a higher source whose operation one could perhaps refer to as a€?the Traditiona€™; something that is and has always been a constant presence in human affairs.
That fact that we didna€™t say much about it is interesting in itself; there wasna€™t much to say. During our short stay I had a number of conversations with people from various parts of Europe and particularlyA  South America, where Ali-Shah concentrated most of his efforts.
Spectacular mountains in weird liquid shapes that seem to have burst from the ground and solidified in an instant. Any interruptions to these messages can put someone into an altered state of consciousness. Patients in this state of consciousness may exhibit behaviors that lead family members to incorrectly believe they are becoming awake and communicative. Strokes or other conditions that damage the brain stem, but not the cerebrum, can cause this syndrome.Brain death - People with this condition show no signs of brain function. Psychological attention that is targeted and solution-focused can provide you with relief from the pain and frustration associated with uncontrolled anger.
He can help you find your answers, guide you toward your goals and assist you in regaining control of your life. Take the same dude with a lean face and a fat one and I guarantee his test levels were better when he was lean assuming he is maintaining and not currently dieting. Among spotted hyenas, for instance, females can steal prizes and even expect the privilege of eating first because they are heavier than males. However, when the researchers compared six lemur species, they found that the females of some have higher testosterone levels than others. How was this a€?correcta€™ attitude to be acquired, since Shaha€™s pointed descriptions of incoherent human behaviour always seemed to mirror my own? Anyway he lived in France, or so I had been told (incorrectly as it happened a€” he lived in Godalming). The Arcos centre draws on the energy of this history, and all Ali-Shaha€™s people regard it as an important place to spend time at.


The two performances I heard, given by a€?friendsa€™, as members of Ali-Shaha€™s movement refer to themselves, were quite different in style. Four years passed without any word from Ali-Shah, despite their letters to him, and they suffered a great deal. Though Germany was destroyed and its reputation permanently tarnished, the world has learned a lesson it can never forget. It has been discovered experimentally that when you give testosterone to women they become horny. Some of the friends indulged to an extent that might be considered acceptable in ordinary society but would certainly seem inappropriate for people seriously engaged on a path of spiritual development. He discovered to his surprise that Bektashis are obliged to drink raki (grape liquor flavoured with aniseed) amost constantly. The walls of the tekkia were covered with complex Islamic tile patterns that had taken years to make by hand. However, my experience of Ali-Shaha€™s community is that this dependence was kept at a pretty low level.
This attitude ignores the possibility that physical matter may be able to a€?store and transmita€™ energy of a higher nature than the simply physical, as the Sufis claim. But it seems rather imprecise to define a very specific set of beliefs and activities in terms of such a generalised concept. Greg said he felt a warmth and friendliness from the people there, though I think he found the weather a bit too hot; as a thoroughbred Englishman hea€™s happier with grey skies and drizzle. Gigantic, seemingly inaccessible crags, surmounted nevertheless occasionally by a village or a single farmstead. The cerebrum controls cognitive and sensory functions such as intelligence, memory, reasoning and emotions.
Although their heart still beats, they cannot think, move, breathe or perform any bodily function. Female lemurs, it seems, will often bully their mates, stealing food, marking territory, and even ruling over their neighbors.
I wrote a couple of letters to Shah without getting a reply, and realised that my letters were probably so a€?incorrecta€™ that no response from him was possible. But a series of contacts made it possible to be invited to his London group, where I hoped that my decades of curiosity about what actually does go on behind the veil of mystery, so artfully constructed by Idries Shah, would be satisfied.
On this recommendation I visited Arcos in August 1999 with my friend and intellectual sparring partner, Greg Smith, who shares my interest in the work and writings of Idries Shah.
Things centred around a large patio with dining tables and a bar serving alcoholic drinks at all hours. One was of music by Beethoven, Bach and Mozart performed by musicians from the Florence Symphony Orchestra, and was of a top professional standard. The subject reminded me of a saying I had heard in the same connection: a€?If a boil appears on your leg, do you blame your leg?a€™ Nazism was a focus for the evil of the whole world, not just of Germans. He said: a€?If you ask me a question about these things and I give you the answer, what will you do with it? The reason they are less interested in sex for its own sake than men is because they have less testosterone. Much of the exercise material practised by Ali-Shaha€™s community is Islamic, and Islam has an unequivocal position on alcohol: that of total prohibition.
I had thought that Gurdjieffa€™s famous overindulgence in alcohol was an aberration from Sufi practice, but I am now inclined to the opposite conclusion. In various niches were mysterious objects such as a framed Afghan saddlebag, panels of Islamic calligraphy and black rosaries. I had noticed no charity projects or any requirements for money other than paying for onea€™s stay and food. We have plenty of evidence for this kind of belief in Western tradition: holy relics, icons, stone circles, turf mazes, horseshoes and other talismans, a sprig of heather from a gypsy. I find it hard to think of this particular movement as anything other than Omar Ali-Shaha€™s style of Sufism, because I know that there are many teachers with different styles within the Naqshbandi order alone. Towns built on high bluffs, their white walls and red roofs tumbling down from the church towards the barren plain. However, these patients do not actually respond to any internal or external stimuli and evidence of extensive brain damage still persists. What you want is strong cheekbones and a strong jaw and brow ridge but those things are out of your control. Now researchers think they have determined what makes these imposing lady lemurs so different. I assumed that it was unlikely to be an imitation Sufi group, because of the close connection that must exist with Idries Shaha€™s operation.
Next to this was the kitchen where volunteer workers produced good quality food at mealtimes for fluctuating numbers of children and adults. The other was of Flamenco with a local singer and a Canadian guitarist, and although perhaps not so technically proficient as the Florentines, represented the rather introverted and morose Flamenco Hondo style with a good degree of authenticity.
When faced with the eventual bitter question, a€?Why did you let this situation happen and why did you not respond to us?a€™ he replied: a€?If I had intervened, I would simply have replaced the cult leader with myself without any change in the condition of the group. It has to be something that is useful to you, something you can put into practice in your own life.
Being reminded of this simple fact has helped my understanding of the male-female dynamic more than all the profound theories I have ever read a€“ or devised.
Participants donned robes reminiscent of Josepha€™s coat of many colours, and bowed with their arms crossed over their chests as they entered.
Obviously the centre itself required a good deal of money to build and maintain, though I was told that most of this was contributed by wealthy individuals among Ali-Shaha€™s supporters.
Where there is a sense that no-one is in charge, or everyone equally, or the too-vague authority of God, I have seen silly and chaotic things happen and unnecessary wastes of energy and money. Ritual, when prescribed by a master for his disciples, is claimed by Sufis to be a means for transmission of a finer energy. Ali-Shah seems to be saying that his presentation is that which defines the aim of a€?the Traditiona€™ as a whole, i.e. I enjoyed the heat a€“ Ia€™m an African born if not bred a€“ so would go back just to bask in that, if nothing else.
In the Arcos valley with its central river and lake dam, plantations of cork and olive, fruit gardens and fields with crops and livestock thrive in the parched landscape.
The outcome of patients in whom a vegetative state lasts for a month or more is generally poor and doctors use the term persistent vegetative state. Legally, the patient is declared dead and the wishes of the patient or the family regarding organ donation can be considered. I did not at first know that there had been a split between the Shah brothers since 1971 and that they had a€?agreed to disagree on the projection of the Teachinga€™. The 78-year old teacher sat during the evening meal at a table at the edge of the patio, where he would receive visitors and hold interviews if anyone felt like approaching him, though I saw hardly anyone do that. The thing had to come to the surface and run its course so that everyone could learn the necessary lesson.a€™ What remained from this and other painful experiences was an abiding trust in Ali-Shaha€™s skill in overseeing long-term developments. It has also considerably mitigated the effect women have on me, even attractive south American women in skimpy bathing costumes. But I was told that he was, or had been, a heavy drinker who might get through twelve or sixteen cans of Guinness in the course of delivering a single talk! I could observe no overt carousing at la Zahara, and it appeared that, however self-indulgent aspects of their behaviour might be, there was at least no pressure to conform. Everyone walked anticlockwise round the room as they found a place to sit in the dim light.
From my knowledge of Ali-Shaha€™s approach I think it would be safe to assume that he avoided anything which might be construed as emotional blackmail.


While it is true that in any organisation these things can happen, the position of the teacher enables him to exercise authority when obedience is required. If there is one thing that sums up the indefinable something for me it is that twinkle in the eye. There is no woodland and no uncultivated vegetation however; the original forests were cleared centuries ago.
It controls breathing, blood pressure, sleep cycles, consciousness and other body functions. Hostile people often take themselves too seriously and have difficulty laughing at their own silliness. For my purposes though, Omar Ali-Shaha€™s group would have to suffice, Idries Shaha€™s group having more or less ceased to function after his death. A cheerful middle-aged Argentinian who lives in Germany co-ordinated food supplies, cooking, registration of visitors and collection of fees. In appearance he is frail-looking and extremely thin; of medium height with a long, angular face, hooked nose and moustache.
Ali-Shah encouraged his followers to exercise balance, adequate humility, self-observation, self-restraint, harmonious interaction and the avoidance of unnecessary tension. The exercises of invocation, breathing, concentration and visualisation, accompanied by faint recordings of Turkish Sufi music, were conducted with a degree of ritualism which seemed to me antithetical to the general tenor of the movement. His version of Sufism did not involve manipulation as far as I could see, and did not include requests for money. Ali-Shah was, moreover, seen as a loving, humorous and intelligent father-figure with an impeccable pedigree in the line of the Masters.
One element of this claim is that the Tradition connects with a body of knowledge active in all ages of the past, far beyond Islam. A dusty track leads off the main road from Arcos to El Bosque, arriving at a brick gateway, the entrance to La Zahara: twenty or thirty acres of fields, ancient cork trees, newly built houses, a camping site. Despite this rather onerous job he was relaxed enough to sit and talk to me for long stretches in excellent English about computer music software and his experiences in the Sufi Tradition.
I realised, however, that I was only experiencing my own reaction without necessarily understanding the complete picture.
As regards the positive influencing of world events, the setting up of groups and the building of centres would seem by themselves to be the first step, since the aim of this is to produce people with understanding, who will inevitably go on to influence the world around them in a positive way.
His philosophy of minimising tension and self-criticism and maximising flexibility and self-trust seems, from my experience of his followers, to counteract any tendency towards fixated dependence. I have recognised for myself that many ancient Egyptian statues have the same posture as Naqshbandi dervishes, seated straight-backed with their hands on their knees, or standing with their arms crossed over their breasts, or dressed in the striped robe of the Naqshbandi dervish. The track ends next to a screen of trees around lawns, a swimming pool, a large patio and eating area with a bar, kitchens and toilet facilities.
The friends who spoke to me of these matters seemed not at all concerned that I would be put off, but trusted that I would draw the appropriate conclusions. How could his followers make allowances for him when his intake of alcohol set what anyone would see as a bad example?
One of the most damaging things in life is people who feel they ought to do good but end up doing the opposite because they dona€™t really know what they are doing.
Thirdly, they provide a structure around which one can build onea€™s daily life and a means of co-ordinating group activity.
Off to one side is the tekkia (exercise house) with its surrounding pools and gardens, an impressive copy of the tekkia and gardens of the Alhambra palace two hundred miles away in Granada.
His wife, Anna, is a woman from northern Italy with jet-black hair, fine features, delicate manners and fluent English. One of the friends shared my misgivings, but said: a€?Different people have different tolerances to alcohol. It is difficult to assess such things because of the obvious impossibility of judging objectively an action that is supposed to come from a higher level than that of ordinary perception. Their commitment to each other, to their teacher and to the teaching seemed to generate an energy which I could only sense but could not define.
The negative possibilities here are that these things can become ends in themselves, believed in for their own sake.
It is this idea of a direct line of descent from the the distant past that I find one of the most fascinating things about the Tradition.
Wild horses would not make him hug another man, and he suspected those in the Tradition who did of affectation. His doctor is a somewhat less refined Spanish woman, cheerful and stout, with short orange hair and little English.
We are not supposed to imitate Agha (Ali-Shah) but to learn to regulate our own behaviour according to what is suitable for us.
Nevertheless one must allow oneself to trust onea€™s own judgment, otherwise one is susceptible to any plausible philosophy whose adherents are sufficiently convinced of it.
It had at any rate built the Zahara complex, and I could see that such people as I had met would not do such a thing if there was not a true need in them to do so. Some of them may have participated out of blind devotion or self-conditioning, wanting something from Sufism which they could not find in their own culture. But after only three days at La Zahara he was returning hugs without compunction, and back in England, as we parted company, it was he who hugged me.
Alcohol is a natural chemical produced in the body, so the body has a means of getting rid of it. But there was not at La Zahara the atmosphere of dependence, fear or uncritical emotional attachment that would normally drive such behaviour. The point that has struck me from my Arcos experience is that although these dangers exist, we cannot avoid the fact that we are beings with brains and feelings and a complex psychology, and an efficient developmental path must take account of and use this structure of energies of which we are composed.
He seemed friendly enough; but I think it is the fate of anyone in such a position to be treated with awe by their followers. But psychoactive drugs are foreign to the body so they stay in the body for a very long time. There was intelligence, honesty, self-deprecating humour and easy admission of ignorance, qualities which I have learned to associate with true self-determination.
In the absence of such materials as the Sufis use, people will inevitably create their own, because they must have some kind of structure. This is the danger of these drugs, because they have a long term bad effect on brain function. Agha has said that the inner being is not affected by many things, including anger, violent behaviour and so on.
I am already too self-indulgent with alcohol, and I dona€™t want any further encouragement. But I do see that nowadays a culture of repression only produces the result it tries to prevent, and that this is a waste of energy which Ali-Shah is not guilty of. If he introduced a ban on alcohol in an alcohol-consuming society, those who obeyed might feel self-righteous and those who disobeyed would certainly feel guilty.
His other consumption habits were pretty eccentric too; he smoked constantly and ate virtually nothing.
Clearly they could not copy him so they had to find their own level within the general guidelines which he set.



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