Sunday 17 May 2015

The Liberating Force of Science

I don't particularly enjoy writing pieces like the last one since they focus on the negative and could be perceived as divisive. But sometimes they are necessary. We live in times of great spiritual ignorance and denial of the truth, and anyone who sees that has a responsibility to point it out even if they have to take a negative tone in doing so. However, as I have said before, I am not writing to attack or condemn anyone but to support those whose intuitions are crushed by the culture in which they happen to live. Increasingly, materialistic science assumes the status of orthodox dogma and dissenting voices are marginalised. I think of children growing up with little or no exposure to any kind of valid spiritual teaching and nothing to nourish their spiritual imaginations. Is it over-dramatic to think this a crime? Of course, some atheists claim it's a crime to teach young children about a spiritual world when there's no proof (to their way of thinking) that such a thing exists, but what if it does and access to it is withheld? What then? What if children are not even given the opportunity (through lack of information) to believe in a spiritual reality? Is this not a form of abuse? 

As a matter of fact I regard the very question "Do you believe in God (or a spiritual reality)?" to be a wrong one since it implies an unbiased choice can be made in this matter. Often the way a question is framed contains certain inbuilt assumptions and preconceptions which have an influence on the answer. As far as God is concerned it is not a question of belief. God is a fact so the question should not be "Do you believe in God" but "Do you see the reality of God?". The truth of God is stamped in every heart and either we acknowledge that or we don't. Doubt is permissible but to actively deny God is always a sign of egotism and pride.

Still, despite my polemic about modern science I would not want it to be thought that I have no appreciation for the revolution in thinking that it brought about. When the scientific method first arose it brought a fresh approach to the study of reality, which study is the reason for our existence on this Earth. Old ways had become stale, corrupted by superstitions and false beliefs, even if the truth was still there under several centuries' worth of man-made accretions. Ignorance abounded in many departments of life but it's hardly worth me saying that as it's so obvious. We needed science to clear away cobwebs and stimulate new ways of thinking, never mind the technological advancements which have liberated humanity in so many ways (even if they have enslaved us in others but I won't go into that in this piece having already written about it here and here). I would never dispute any of that. But the fact remains that science exceeded its brief. It may have corrected wrongs and imbalances of the past but it created new ones. It may have given us great power over nature but it robbed us of a spiritual home. It expanded certain horizons but it lost the centre. It opened the mind to new ways of thinking but ruthlessly closed off the old ones when we needed a balance between the two. The problem, then, is not science, but scientists not acknowledging the limitations of their science, and stepping beyond their legitimate boundaries.

Science, considered as the system of knowledge we have today, can be regarded as a step on the journey that leads humanity from the consciousness in which subject and object are not yet experienced separately, the so called participation consciousness, to one in which they are completely separate to one in which there is a fully conscious awareness of the unity of the one and the many with both given due recognition and reality. It was a necessary step in the separation of consciousness from its primeval state of being embedded in nature, begun long ago but only completed relatively recently, but it forgot the basic rule of the new which was enunciated by Jesus when he said "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them." The old ways should not have been rejected but assimilated and then integrated with the new. You might think it inevitable that for the new to be established properly the old must be discarded but it need not have been so. If science had not reduced the imagination to a purely subjective faculty, if it had respected the integrity of the whole human being, if it had not looked at nature from an almost completely quantitative point of view and if it had not pursued power and control to the degree that it did, then it might not have made the errors it has made.

So science was a liberating force in many respects, certainly to begin with, but the so called Enlightenment was not all one way. It also brought a darkening of consciousness, with the result that materialistic scientists are now the ones preventing proper progress. They are the modern day believers in a flat earth for the world they have created is a barren, two dimensional wasteland, stripped of meaning and without true hope. We may not see it that way because we are seduced by the technological appliances that science has provided us with, and lulled into a false sense of ease by the physical comfort its discoveries in the material world have given us. But these will ultimately prove to be without real substance. Scientists have forgotten that knowledge must always be subordinate to truth. They need to open their minds to the greater reality that lies beyond their instruments, equations and theories, and perceive the world as the expression of a Divine Intelligence. Only then can their science become a pure approach to the world and be what it should be which is a hymn of praise to the Creator.

Science means knowledge. That's all it means. It is, therefore, good. The pursuit of knowledge is a large part of what it is to be human. It is our destiny and duty to seek to know. But, as every spiritual aspirant understands, there is a knowledge of the head and a knowledge of the heart, and contemporary science focuses entirely on the former while ignoring the latter. The knowledge of the head is made of individual pieces connected together and built up gradually by purely rational means but the knowledge of the heart is direct perception. And, while the first means that the knower and his knowledge are always separate, in the knowledge of the heart they are one. The knower is his knowledge and vice versa. Our contemporary science needs to discover or rediscover this truth and realise that true knowledge, the knowledge of inner realities, can only come from the heart. That is not to dismiss outer knowledge but simply to point out that it is outer, and that the head can have knowledge but it can never know truth.

Thus we can say that science is a noble pursuit when practiced with the idea that behind physics there is metaphysics, but when practiced without that vision, or the clear understanding that the natural world is but the outward manifestation of a greater spiritual reality, it will not lead to the more abundant life but only death.

Let me leave the last word to the Masters. "Reason less and accept more.  It is not necessary to chase after the many mysteries of existence. Live simply in the heart and all mysteries will in time become known to you. Do not be as those who seek to penetrate to every corner of the universe but do not know themselves." This is advice scientists would do well to consider.

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