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Psychologist Victor Shamas says the act of prayer is what counts, not what religious tradition you come from or what method of prayer you choose. Shamas started Act On Wisdom, an organization dedicated to creating healing circles that bring a large number of people together to meditate and pray. The UA psychology professor and author of The Chanter's Guide: Sacred Chanting as a Shamanic Practice says he's seen this theory in action through his Global Chant, which meets at the Ada Pierce McCormick Building on the UA campus, 1401 E. First St. Global Chant is bringing the Heart Shrine Relic Tour to Tucson Dec. 14-16 at Anjali, 330 E. Seventh St. For more information, call 300-6316.

What is Act on Wisdom?

It's an organization that I started this year, and the idea is to bring together people who believe in healing, especially those involved in healing circles. ... There is a sentiment shared by a lot of people that this is a time of great difficulty around the planet. We are living in a time that is turbulent and transitional. What we're looking to do is ease that transition as much as possible. Imagine what happens when a few people are meditating or praying for you. Now imagine that 50,000 or 100,000 are. I think there is strength in numbers.

Why do you believe this works?

I have had a long-standing belief in the power of human consciousness and creativity. Some people believe in miracles, but I don't. We've underestimated ourselves, and we've underestimated our human ability. One of those abilities is the ability to heal. I've become very interested in that over the years, and so, really, the emphasis on my work at this point is on healing.

How does the academic community respond to your work?

I think the work I'm doing challenges current belief systems and academic systems. In the academic world, the scientific model assumes science is the only discipline. The truth is that "unscientific" doesn't mean "undisciplined." There are a number of disciplines that have emerged outside physical and natural sciences that are true disciplines. Tibetan culture is a wonderful example of that. So, my feeling is that I'm one of many, many people trying to get the wave started. You know when you're in the arena, and you're seeing the wave get started, and that one guy is trying to start the wave ... but eventually the wave takes off? And what I'm seeing is that the wave is just starting to take off, that people are just starting to get what works in their day-to-day lives in the power to create, the power to heal.

Describe healing circles.

The healing circle I am most familiar with is the chanting circle I have been hosting for 12 years which is called Global Chant. ... We begin by directing our intentions, then our chanting and our prayers toward someone or something that is in need. And then we direct that intention and that energy toward that individual or place or whatever it may be. Chanting just happens to be my vehicle. Chanting chose me. I didn't choose chanting. At age 3, I heard Mahalia Jackson for the first time, and I was completely hooked on sacred music after that. Chanting is a type of sacred music.

What is the Heart Shrine Relic Tour?

These relics are believed in the Buddhist tradition to carry the essence of the Buddha himself. They were left behind when different Buddhist teachers were cremated. In the cremation ashes, they found these crystal formations. Some of them look like quartz, and others look like pearls. They take a lot of different forms, and it doesn't matter what form they take; they carry the essence of loving kindness and compassion from these teachers. Somebody asked me: How do you know they are legitimate and that someone is not passing off quartz crystals as relics? I know, because I've experienced them directly, because I've sat in the room with them for four hours, and four hours passed like four minutes. ... Imagine you could sit in the room with 50 of the great enlightened teachers of all time.

Some of us are pretty cynical. Why prayer?

I think that we've hit a crossroads in human history, and in psychology, they call it a crisis point. Now, a crisis point isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a fork in the road. One direction could lead to an age of healing on the planet. Another direction could be very difficult and lead to total destruction of humanity. So I do think on a psychological level, chanting has the possibility of changing our thought processes, changing our actions and, as a result, changing our world.

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