Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Science of Spirituality?

We humans early on discovered there was something higher and more powerful we could appeal to for help, guidance, or consolation.  Cultures have varied in the way they learned to connect with the higher power, how they named it, and how they tried to communicate with it.The belief in some kind of spiritual force has been a staple of the human race until in 17th century Europe some clever men invented a thing called science.

The invention of science was destined to transform the whole of life on earth.  We know about the benefits of science, but we also know that the effects of scientific technology have been disastrous for living things on the planet and for its earth, air, and waters.  I’m referring to the great looming climate catastrophe

The new powerful science that has done all this is mainly a science of matter.  Modern science knows how to manipulate matter and that explains its economic, political, and military power.  As modern science rose to prominence and began to reshape human existence, those traditions about the “something higher and more powerful” were discarded as primitive, retrograde, unscientific.  In short, God died and we bumped him off with science.

So here we are, godless on a diseased, over-heated planet ready to explode.  It’s also a planet where powerful world “leaders” increasingly suffer from psychopathic narcissism.  It really is an unprecedented moment in world history.

I keep thinking about the way science split off from spirituality. Spirituality is what makes us human, not our ability to produce weapons of mass destruction or surveillance technologies.  Spirituality touches on a world of values such as truth, justice and beauty.  Do we really believe that life on earth can manage without these  values?

After all, we are amphibians that dwell in two worlds, the world outside and the world inside—the physical and the mental.  It won’t do to ignore our inner life, how we feel, sense, and understand the world.

It turns out that science has been looking at the inner world, so there are consciousness studies, research on prayer, mysticism, and wide ranges of paranormal phenomena—all types of experience that can’t be explained physically but are nonetheless real—indeed, super-real.  Science means knowledge, and what I’m underscoring is that a science of spirituality is a real possibility for people today.

A new spiritual science would be based on two principles.  The first is that we think of ourselves in relationship to something greater, more powerful, wiser, and creative than us. The critical move is that our personal mental life participates in the life of a greater mind and intelligence.  This one great mind generally tends to be personified and goes under many names, forms, and mythologies.

Now to the second point. It’s not only possible for a rational person to infer from a vast data base the existence of a higher mental agency of apparently unbounded character and dimensions; it is also possible to interact  in various ways with this extended spiritual reality.  This narrative, by the way, is consistent with a psychological or a religious perspective; it requires no special faith, just an open mind and heart. 

The big point is about  access to a transcendent function, whether we think of it as contact with God or with our subliminal self. Contact can occur in various ways,  petitionary prayer, ecstatic dance, sand-painting, psychedelics, yogic samadhi, and so on.  There is no algorithm for spiritual breakthrough. 

The one-sided emphasis of modern science on the physical side of reality needs to be righted; we seem in fact to be at a turning-point of history where the deep mistakes of emphasis are  becoming catastrophically obvious.

The problem that afflicts us is metaphysical.  What is needed is an overall new worldview.  We need a renaissance of human sensibility that sees the whole living planet as sacred, not as a field of economic and military exploitation. 

In my book, Smile of the Universe, I make a detailed argument for both points described above, the case for a greater mind that I call Mind at Large and a description of how people throughout history have sought contact with the greater

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spiritual sciences exist. You've just got to go knocking on doors.

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