Archives for posts with tag: science and spiritualism
Credit: beforeitwnews.com

Credit: beforeitwnews.com

Ingo Swann, who died this year, was one of the most remarkable psychics of our times. Considered a pioneering figure in ESP related ‘remote viewing’, his remarkable feats so impressed the establishment that the prestigious Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Princeton, Mind Science Foundation, San Antonio and several others involved him in their ESP research programmes. The results were of such outstanding quality that the CIA ( concerned about the Russian Intelligence Organizations’ own research in the field) engaged him in what came to be known as the ‘Stargate Project’ for 25 years before abandoning it in 1995, with a change in command, on account of the results being vague and ambiguous for the purpose of intelligence gathering.

The range of ESP connected abilities attributed to him included first and foremost, ‘Remote Viewing’, then psychokinesis, mentally influencing growth of plants, influencing temperature in a controlled environment, ‘out of body Travel’ ( thereby detecting a ring of tiny asteroids around Jupiter, subsequently confirmed by scientists) and influencing stable magnetic fields of a super cooled  junction in a quark detector (considered an amazing feat by scientists).

ingo swann

Ingo Swann

In his book ”Natural ESP – A Layman’s Guide To Unlocking The Extra Sensory Power Of your Mind” ( Bantam Books 1987 ) he holds that potentially an ESP ability is present universally and is not unique to a psychic. In the book he seeks to show how anyone can develop this ability by employing his methodology for ‘remote viewing’ through drawing, sketching and doodling.

The parts of the book which interested me were not the exercises to teach ESP techniques to the common public but his deeply insightful metaphysical observations about the source and context of the phenomenon. Being an adept in the field and a gifted practitioner of the ‘art’ no one would be better qualified in providing a scientific and philosophical context for ESP

He opens by asserting that the study and practice of ESP has been stagnating for over a century since interest was first aroused in scientific circles, mainly on account of remaining in a traditional groove of enquiry fettered by labels which were not really relevant and the use of verbalization ( rather than the use of sketches and doodling) which restricted and inhibited the process rather than revealed the true nature and source of ESP.

In the course of the extensive experiments and demonstrations at the prestigious institutions he was associated with, he came to the realization that what was equally important was the mental processes as much as the results for providing a clue to the nature of the phenomenon. He therefore began to focus attention on his own mental activity to determine what was happening.

A particular experiment finally became the ‘clincher’ which opened the window to reveal the truth – Swann says ”as a result of it, my life was never to be the same”. In this experiment in ‘remote viewing’ two objects were placed in a container directly above his head which he was expected to view ‘remotely’ while he was strapped to a chair with electrodes. He then ‘remote sensed’ and sketched the following symbols which arose in his conscious mind;  (1) U T    (2)  dn-L  He wondered whether these were distorted letters from Arabic. The actual objects were  (1) a card with the figure 5 and (2) the words 7 U P . Those conducting the experiment however immediately realized what had happened. Swann’s remote sense had viewed the objects upside down – join u and T and the figure 5 appears – reverse dn – L and you get 7 UP.

In that instant Swann realized that there was a faculty within him which had observed the objects without the verbalization filters or internal editing in his conscious mind being activated. He arrived at the grand realization that the inner faculty had its own logic and rules of observation, working on a different mechanism of its own rather than a reliance on the physical senses. He named this faculty within us as the ‘ESP Core’, the psychic mind. He also realized that studies of ESP so far had concentrated on the notion that the mind ‘goes out’ and senses the target, whereas the truth was that the information is actually streaming into the mind from outside. The sensing mechanism plugs into a Universal Field of information which is beyond time and space in a ‘second reality’ beyond the physical plane. the information comes into the mind without the use of the physical senses.

He enumerates three broad categories of ESP:

(1) Sensing of physical objects ( as in the experiments of ‘remote viewing’

(2) Receiving a new idea as in inventions and creative acts

(3) Mystical insights, intuition, hunches etc.

He then postulates the concept of the Mind Mound which is ‘overgrown’ ( like in archaeological excavations) by presumptions, preconceptions inculcated by culture, education, beliefs, memory, imagination, ideas,and uncontrolled thoughts, impeding the passage of ESP signals into the conscious mind and acting as barriers. Within the mound lies hidden the ESP Core. The barriers are erected by the mind to maintain rationality and protect its own vital functions from getting overwhelmed by information streaming in from the Second Reality. This resistance can be identified as the ego which enables the physical entity to survive in its own material reality. Without the barriers the conscious mind would be inundated by more information than it could handle. Yet occasionally, vital ESP signals like strong intuition, creative ideas, foreboding, awareness of loved ones being in trouble or danger,etc are allowed through with barriers inactivated when vitally necessary.

Over the years, given his own abilities and experiences he concluded that our awareness of the physical world and our thinking experience of it is not the only form of consciousness we possess. There is a second consciousness, the ESP Core which integrates with both the physical world and with the Second Reality beyond it. By now I could guess what would be coming next.

The ESP Core he then calls the Deeper Self. The Second Reality, inevitably, he links ( as I expected him to) to concepts propounded by scientists and Quantum physicists and thinkers as the Quantum reality, the Implicate Order ( David Bohm), the Zero Point field ( Lynne Mc Taggart), the Cosmic Web ( Fritjof Capra). The Deeper Self or the psychic mind he states may not exist only in the brain but indeed extends beyond the physical body.

He then equates his idea of the Deeper Self with Rupert Sheldrake’s ‘Conscious Self’. Sheldrake, the renowned biochemist and plant physiologist, states that this is not merely derived from matter. As he puts it, while the Conscious Self interacts with the motor field of the body and the changes taking place in the brain through the body’s interaction with the environment and circumstances of life, yet it remains ‘over and above them’. The properties of the Conscious Self cannot be reduced to matter, energy and motor fields but derives from another reality beyond time and space. It has properties unlike a purely physical system and it is this that accounts for parapsychological phenomena we encounter on the physical plane.

It becomes obvious that Sheldrake’s Conscious Self and Swann’s Deeper Self, in traditional, theological terms is none other than the Soul, the Oversoul, the Superself, the divine Self and Cosmic consciousness. This begins to match the Hindu concept of the soul which I have laboured to explore and present throughout this blog. This soul according to the Gita is not the AGENT of action but the quiet unobtrusive motivator and witness. Swann’s conscious levels of the mind in the upper reaches of the Mind Mound constitutes our ego, which is the independent AGENT of action influenced but not controlled by the Deeper Self. His ESP Core is indeed the soul, situated both within us and extending beyond into the Universal Consciousness. The Second Reality beyond space and time that he speaks of , from which the ESP inputs arrive, are none other than the Universal Consciousness  (Brahman, Cosmic Web etc).

Swann’s researching the ESP phenomenon thus reveals valuable insights which parallel Eastern Metaphysics and provide an understanding from the psychological and scientific angle and the philosophical and metaphysical angle of the paranormal and ESP phenomena occurring in our daily lives.

The ESP Core ( the Pineal gland, the Third Eye, the Ajna Chakra ? ) is the seat of our soul aligned to our physical body and its ego component in the brain, seeking to reveal the paranormal and extra sensory truths derived from the cosmic Web, as intuition, creativity and the paranormal abilities of ESP, when we, the ego are willing and able to listen.

Credit; samanthanoto.com

Credit; samanthanoto.com

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Credit: goodfon.com

Credit: goodfon.com

 

No one is born perfect. Imperfections trail the best of us as do our shadows. Those without imperfections exist in other realms not needing to be born here.Even sages and seers who inspire us cast their ego shadows as the bright sun of our physical world glows furiously. Each imperfection reminds us why we are here. This is the great laundry, the giant washing machine. Our bodies are the garments whose indelible stains are sent back time and again for cleansing. the shining Self then dons it for another life time of energetic washing.

Some garments are spotted red with incredible anger. Another is green with envy and avarice. Yet another has obsessive yellow addictions for substance and sex. Others are purple with arrogance and pride. There are shades of grey growing darker with greed and gluttony. Shades of blue are in depression and restless dissatisfaction. Ignorance and confusion are painted in black. Deception and falsehood are silver. Every imaginable shade and colour painted by ego, fear and urge for the false security of acquisition and possession. A radiant white shroud  also awaits the soul that has no need for garment and apparel but which it nevertheless dons to become the washerman, blazing a trail for cleaning.

I offer my poem which seeks to show that while here we must reconcile ourselves to being fallible bodies attached to radiant spirits, for when the garment is totally cleaned, it will be cast away for good.

 

                 W E     T O G E T H E R

 

Facets of myself

Reminding of some genetic impropriety

I must not inherit, I disown

As enemy.

 

Facets I own

And love, espouse, protect,

Good looks, graces

Mental energy and prowess

Are friend.

 

But we move together,

Fungus and host

Conjoined,wanted

And unwanted entities,

Inextricable.

 

I know, like when I tried

From my pet fish

To peel off its fungal growth,

That peeling will kill,

That you are whole,

 indivisible.

 

Yet I abhor my spots,

Wish to extend my chin,

Cannot countenance

My inabilities, cowardice,

Or love my guilt.

 

So I compromise

As we rise together;

The shining self

Amid the shadows of the negative.

credit: metaphysics-for-life.com

credit: metaphysics-for-life.com

Our tour has covered such luminaries both intellectuals and scientists as Peter Russel, Fritjof  Kapra, Gary Zukav, James Redfield, Renee Weber, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake and  Jose De Silva. I now propose to review the writings of the eminent journalist Lynne Mc Taggart and her painstaking investigations in her tour de force of the subject. In what I consider her path breaking book ‘The Field’ (1999 Harper Collins, New York, copyright Lynne Mc Taggart ), Mc Taggart launched on what she described as her quest to ascertain the ‘Secret Force of the Universe’.

    Her research into different disciplines focussed on detecting an underlying Field that connects us all and everything. We have already seen ( Science and Metaphysics: Bohm) that the eminent physicist David Bohm conceptualized the existence of an ‘Implicate Order’ from which the material world unfolds and into which it enfolds again as ripples in a wave. We also saw the insightful biologist Rupert Sheldrake (   Biology and Metaphysics : Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic fileds) postulate ‘Morphogenetic Fields’ to explain diversity and evolution in a purposeful Nature.

Lynne Mc Taggart

Lynne Mc Taggart

Mc Taggart’s concern was to investigate the range of observations and research by scientists to highlight the crystalization of ideas about a unifying and underlying reality which has been gaining greater acceptance despite resistance from the conservative scientific mainstream.

She presented and traced for the lay man, much like Capra and Zukav had, the movement in scientific thought from the mechanistic Newtonian world view and Darwinian theory of random evolution to the interconnected world of Quantum Physics and the dissatisfaction of some scientists with the lack of scientific interest in applying these findings to our macro level of existence. She dwelt on their efforts to investigate our connection with this apparently intentional force in the universe. Through her investigative journalism she sought to find the scientific basis for this evolving ‘revolution’ in thinking. Her concerns were however not confined to academic conjecture but appeared to be driven by a need to tap into the ‘Field’ to search for a kind of alternative medicine of psychic and spiritual healing and miraculous cures.

 At the heart of the premise was a Zero Point Field, the vibrations between particles which themselves are knots of energy. A ceaseless exchange of energy takes place sourced from this Zero Point Field and in turn replenishing this inexhaustible reservoir of energy.

We need not here go into the mysteries and complexities of Quantum phenomena, which she explains, such as ‘non-locality’ and the startling effects that the act of observation have on particles, beyond noting briefly that in the former case an electron is seen to influence another particle instantaneously over any distance without exchange of energy, implying that a connection once established is retained even after they are separated over a great distance. In the latter case the act of observation effects the particles behaviour. These curious phenomena suggest the idea of an interconnected world in which  we as observers  are active participants which produce the reality we observe  through the act of observing. This is not unlike the mystical view of the ancients that the universe exists when we look at it but disappears when we look away.

Fritz Albert Popp

Fritz Albert Popp

Mc Taggart dwells at length on the findings of Fritz-Albert Popp a German theoretical biophysicist who studied ‘ biophoton emissions’ of living organisms and even developed a machine for the purpose. Here again it is indicative of a force from which these emissions emerge, showing that at the macro level too there is a relevance of the quantum activity which we find at the micro level.

Mc Taggart’s investigations then move through the magical portals of ESP, linking its incredible feats and as yet unrealized potential also to the Zero Point Field.

She goes on to investigate research carried out at Stanford University to show the power of the mind to influence random outcomes in a machine deviced to study such phenomena. The effects of sacred sites and global interest in events portrayed on the TV on the machines in the programmes  appeared to change random outcomes to higher degrees of order, all indicative of the phenomenon of quantum mechanics being applicable at a macro level. The experiments appear to show that an act of will can affect the outcome and that by thinking we can create greater order out of random patterns. The question then arises whether the will can be applied to heal organisms. Research had shown that the will could be applied to affect bacteria, plants and cells. The conjecture was that all this was only possible because the Field, repository of all memory was being tapped into through these processes.

Some scientists had proposed that the brain itself was communicating through quantum processes within and consciousness was a global phenomenon occuring throughout the body, not merely the brain. Biology itself was a quantum process and as in Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields memory resided in the ZeroPoint Field with the brain merely retrieving the information from the Field. Creativity, insight and intuition were all representative of this phenomenon.

Intention could therefore affect the probability of events, pre-empt disease before it developed, change the course of our lives. The universe was instantly present, embracing all time and space at a point – a kind of continumm of presence. Precognition, distance viewing and the ability in some to look into the future were indicative of this (these conceptions appear to be in synch with the physicist David Bohm’s Implicate Order and and the biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields).

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Mc Taggart also examined experiments carried out by the Indian mystic Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi through his Transcendental Meditation (TM), mass meditation exercises to show how these affected  the graph of crime in specified areas which were the focus of participating meditators. Other phenomena observed were the affects of mass will on the environment and weather. More experiments showed the healing effects of prayer on controlled groups of patients. All these phenomena were shown as examples of tapping into the Field of benign energy, a store house of universal memory. Mc Taggart concludes that with growing interest in the phenomenon a Zero Point Age was emerging  ( much like Peter Russel’s Consciousness Age in his book  The Awakening Earth).

Mc Taggart, encouraged by the universal response to her book launched into her next book ‘The Intention Experiment’ which sought to engage enthusiastic readers in active participation on the net to affect an experiment in biology.

Her writings became an inspiration for the production of a popular documentary on quantum physics and its relationship to paranormal phenomena – ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ with interviews with scientists which illustrated some of  the complex phenomena investigated by her. 

Again I sat back to absorb the immensity of ideas proposed and to realign my thinking of the nature of the reality that surrounds us, shaping us as we too shape it.

core

Matter unlike the spirit is dense – no nonsense, capable of strength and harshness too. It has things to do requiring muscle and sweat. It is not Bohm’s Implicate Order nor a Sheldrake’s potential field – it is here and now, like no pain no gain. Nothing ambiguous, nothing beyond space and time, it needs a clock, a feel a lock. No silent emptiness, no illusion, no dream. Matter is here to stay as explicate as can be. Test it for compassion if you like, again test it for passion. It rejoices in pain and pleasure, fortune and misfortune. Want to know matter? Just look at the sun as it warms you or again burns you , be careful. Matter has been made hard for a reason. It must react. And yes it can be what you call good or bad too. It is allowed that, for a reason. If there was no shadow how would we ever know substance? No night, then how would we know day? Without provocation would we ever move? Without attraction would we ever know love? Without competition would we ever excel? Real dense here this matter like our beloved sun. No angels allowed here just man to let them see what matter is truly capable of. A compassion which angels who never hurt would never know. Moved  by such thoughts I present a poem on our material core, which needs civilizing.

 

C O R E

Heart is like sun

Original

Terrible  core,

 

Thunder before

Molecules begin to loosen up

In drenching rain.

 

Not soft fruit but gnarled rooting

Compulsion of unadulterated fact.

 

Tear away the petal dressing

To get to pollen’s purpose,

 

Lift the thin veil of blue sky

revealing bold blacknesses

Throbbing in original;

 

Like infernal sol

Blasting away, another bull,

 

Twisting its failing mate

The cockroach cannibal,

 

Simple terrible original

Heart of the matter.

Credit: 3news.co.nz

Credit: 3news.co.nz

”’ I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research” – Einstein

David Bohm is considered among the worlds leading and most influential theoretical physicists of our age. His work has been primarily concerned with the basics of quantum theory and relativity and their philosophical meaning. He is also among a handful of scientists whose interest also reaches beyond science into the area of metaphysics and the implications of the scientific discoveries for consciousness and the hidden dimensions of the universe.

While sceptics can easily discount views by sociologists like Redfield and intellectuals like Zukav, even physicists like Capra and Russel as over imaginative and obtuse indulging in far-fetched linkages which cannot withstand the highest standards of empirical research, when confronted by a physicist of Bohm’s eminence and standing, ideas emerging from his mind cannot be dismissed and have to be respectfully heard and given due consideration.

Dr. Renee Weber

Dr. Renee Weber

Dr. Renee Weber professor emeritus of philosophy at Rutgers university, N.J. in the eighties undertook an amazing dialogue with scientists and mystics and produced  an insightful book in pursuance of a search for unity of man, nature, consciousness and matter seeking the integration of science and mysticism. Below I have sought to summarize and present the gist of her probing  dialogues which seek to  bring out the views of the great scientist David Bohm.

As we know, Newton’s mechanistic model of the world exists only at our ‘macro’ level but doesn’t work as we go down to smaller and smaller units at the micro level. According to Bohm at that level the behaviour of matter becomes not mechanical but subtle, very like large masses of humans conform to predictable patterns of behaviour but individually they are ‘subtle’. When asked whether the electron behaved as if it was alive Bohm replied that it could be. It behaved in strange ways, being a wave and a particle at the same time, jumping from one state to another without passing in between. He remarked that if it were not ‘alive’  it was certainly a mystery. He felt that there was a hidden order at work beneath the seeming chaos and lack of continuity of individual particles. He remained highly dissatisfied by the current interpretations of Quantum Theory and the manner in which physicists approached the subject. There interest was confined to presenting findings through mathematics and equations without attempting any rational meaning or interpretation of the implications of the findings for us.

David BohmTo set this right he conceived of a framework, a matrix, a complexity within which the findings of Quantum Mechanics could make sense beyond the confines of the experiments and equations. He believed that the ‘findings’ could only carry ‘meaning’ if seen from such a perspective. He then explained that the level at which the Newtonian mechanistic model worked was a three dimensional one of space, time and objects, which he named ‘THE EXPLICATE ORDER’. This was both contained within and emerged from an all-encompassing field or matrix in a muti-dimensional reality which was not manifest and from which arose Time, Space, and forms but which was itself beyond them. This he called ‘THE IMPLICATE ORDER’.

All potential forms were contained  and latent within it and manifested and ‘unfolded’ from it into the Explicate Order from time to time, though only a small part of what was enfolded within it was unfolded and became real and visible. The Implicate Order was immensely bigger than the Explicate. Matter was a ripple in an ocean of energy which was not manifest because it was in a multi- dimensional matrix. ‘Folding’ and ‘Unfolding’ keeps taking place (this is what Quantum Mechanics appears to show) from energy to matter and back, first manifesting and later unmanifesting. In its stable form it is our visible world and universe, the enfolding and unfolding being arrested for a time in a state of balance, creating the stability of matter. Bohm calls matter as condensed or frozen light.

Credit:misteriosdoundo.com

Credit:misteriosdoundo.com

Beyond the Implicate Order he conceives of a Super-Implicate Order within which the former is contained and beyond that further orders beyond our conception, each containing the other. According to him such a state of orders alone would make some sense of the apparent chaos and lack of continuity of quantum Mechanics.

Bohm then applies the Implicate Order concept to nature, holding that our very consciousness is a form of subtle matter which derives from the ‘consciousness’ of nature. Our creativity and insight are a manifestation of the same phenomenon in nature. The amazing diversity  of forms are the manifestation of this creativity and insight. Nature in a sense may be said to be ‘alive’, intelligent, and both material and mental. When forms are created it is an evidence of creative intelligence. The multiplicity of form goes way beyond the need of survival. Without such a creativity, a complex form like that of the human brain could never have come about. Nature, Bohm avers has deep intentionality, creativity and purposefulness, which he implies, derives from the Implicate Order. He believes that matter and mind are inseparable, the separation being only an intellectual abstraction.

Bohm then moves to the concept of unity in diversity:   Your unique insight ( he says ) does not come from your pre-dispositions, it comes from the whole. The word individual itself means something that cannot be divided!  Ego-centredness is not ‘individuality. Ego-centredness centres on a self-image which is an illusion, a delusion!  True individuality is an ‘unfolding’  from the whole in a certain way, at a certain moment. True individuality is only possible by being grounded in the whole.

There are no events in the universe, nothing ‘happens’, everything ‘is’, the past, the present and the future are all contained within it. Deep down the consciousness of man is one.

After reading the dialogues so kindly made available by Dr. Renee Weber in her book ‘Dialogues with Scientists and Sages – The Search For Unity’ (1986) I was simply overwhelmed by all the ideas streaming in, forming a kind of critical mass. I just sat back with a kind of mental explosion. I sat quietly allowing confirmation of the many wisdoms imparted by my culture, by reaffirmation of my ideas that developed through me in my life of interaction with nature and a host of new thoughts. The circuits of my mind began the inevitable process of linking, modifying, reforming, till in that silent meditation there began to emerge a whole new mind-set configured from the old and the new, the spiritual and the scientific, a new mind-set that is now with me and is me.

I am sure that not many will have the same reaction. Each one with their own ‘individual’ backgrounds, environments, associations and developments are bound to react in their own ways. After all we are each an ‘individual’ apart, like the whirring electrons observing the energy uniquely, coming from the ‘whole’ which forms us and which, indeed contribute to forming and shaping it – as Bohm says – unfolding out of and enfolding into it.

Credit: networkedblogs.com

Credit: networkedblogs.com

We saw in the previous post that New Age thinkers had introduced a paradigm shift in the concept of the soul. Eastern metaphysical thought now mingled in their minds with the experiences of renowned psychics, mediums, healers, channelers, creative visualizers  and mystics who believed in Ascended  Masters, Angels, Guides, and Teachers mainly in the western world. Frequent reports of rebirths recalled, near death experiences, glimpses of after-life in a coma or through a medium, recollection of past life through regressive hypnotism, Auric phenomena and photography, poltergeist phenomena, telepathy, tele-kinetic feats, out-of-body vision, distance vision, morphic resonance, ESP, and other supernatural and para normal phenomena also worked to develop a new mind-set.

What helped evolve their thinking further were the amazing findings of Quantum Physics and the examination of the para normal by the scientific establishment, though tentatively, as also eminent academic institutions. There was also a growing tribe of courageous and eminent scientists who revealed their thinking about the metaphysical and mystical implications of the new discoveries and findings of science.

They were also influenced by the thought of certain mystical groups in the West which did not find favour with orthodox religion and the church and  had become  esoteric and secretive. Thus the ideology of the Kabbala. the Rosicrucians, Free Masons, the Hermetic order, Theosophists, Church of Scientology etc all came to have influence on New Age thinkers in formulating their concepts on the soul. The Christian and Jewish concepts of the soul equally played an important role in determining the emerging New Age concept of the soul.

In the Judaic and Christian traditions the concept of the soul is quite different from that of the Eastern traditions, though changing in inflection from faith to faith and order to order. While the Hindu tradition imparts divinity to it and goes so far as to assert that it is a fragment of the Divine Essence, even God in miniature within, the Judaic traditions distinguish it from ‘Spirit’. Though occasionally it is called immortal, the sense of immortality is different from the Hindu tradition. In Hinduism the immortality is an attribute of divinity, whereas in the Jewish and Christian traditions it is immortal in the sense that it outlives the demise of the body,  and after the Day of Judgement dwells in Heaven or Hell for all times. Dante’s Divine Comedy shows souls in Heaven, Purgatory and Hell.

Furthermore the soul is not considered eternal in the sense of existing before ‘birth’, as it comes into existence only by God’s will at the time of conception or birth, though remaining in existence thereafter. The soul rules the action of the personality and becomes identified with it and a man’s actions. However as the person does not survive death it is his soul then that becomes him in after-life and is held responsible for the deeds of the person and subject to rewards and punishment. We see therefore that the soul and the person it inhabits are indeed identical. There is here no principle of the eternal purity and divinity of the soul as in Hinduism. Western mystical traditions differed in degrees ( Meister Eckhart) from the orthodox formulation but eventually appear to have gone along with it.

The foregoing Jewish and Christian views of the soul therefore also had their impact, in addition to the other influences discussed, in shaping New Age thinking about the soul.

New Age thinking therefore combined all these elements, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, mystical, scientific, esoteric, psychic, and paranormal in constructing  a new and unique concept of the soul which differed both from that postulated by the Eastern faiths and Christian and Jewish traditions of yore.

As I began my blog with a consideration of the Hindu concept of the soul, I propose to compare and contrast the New Age concept with that and in the process we would also see how the concept differs substantially from the Jewish and Christian concepts.

We saw in the previous post that New Age thought adopted several features of the Hindu concept: (1) The soul is eternal, immortal and ethereal ( as distinct from being created at birth by the will of God) (2) The soul is subject to incarnation on the earthly plane (3) The soul is subject to reincarnation through numerous life-times.

Aside from these features, where there is concurrence with Hinduism, new elements are introduced which are a departure. Though the New Age soul is ethereal, immortal, and eternal, it is not a fragment of God residing within the body. This position substantially changes the concept of the soul from Hinduism because the entire history of Hindu worship, spirituality, mysticism, music, dance, literature i.e. culture hinges on the divinity within. If the soul is not divine then the poetic yearnings of Indian mystics, their songs and prayers are all irrelevant and in vain.

The New Age thought is close to the Christian and Jewish traditions when it holds that the soul rules the personality unlike the Hindu position that it neither dictates to the ego-personality-body nor participates in its activities, thus in Hinduism the soul does not assume responsibility for the personality’s actions and remains untainted, as God himself remains untainted by the activities of man.

New age thought then postulates that the soul incarnates to heal negatavities that develop within it. The soul is likened to an enormous body of light and energy in ethereal realms corresponding to  Sol in the solar system. On this ethereal sun, sun-spots develop for some reason requiring healing. It then engages in a massive reduction of its enormous energy to create a personality through which it incarnates. The entire soul does not incarnate as it is too powerful and grand. Only the portion of the soul that has corrupted becomes the personality and arrives on the physical plane in birth. This appears to have echoes of ‘original sin’. The personality is therefore that part of the soul which needs to heal. The rest of the glorious radiant soul remains in the ethereal realms. The personality which is the souls negative part now becomes the vehicle for the souls healing and eventual evolution to higher levels of ‘vibration’.

At the end of a life-time the incarnated part returns to the mother ship either improved, healed or become worse and if necessary is then returned through another personality for further improvements to Earth School. This of course is at variance with the Hindu concept where the personality alone acts and accumulates Karmic effects till they are eliminated after many life-times. The only similarity is that in both cases the personality is at full liberty to act and can neither be dictated to nor forced to do the right thing.

The other major difference is that of   ‘choice’. In the Hindu concept there is no question of choice of incarnation as the Law of Karma determines the pros and cons of a lifetime and arranges a new body which would help in resolving negatavities. The soul in that case assumes the new body arranged by the Law of Karma without protest. In the New Age version while there is a law of Karma it has no role in determining the next incarnation which the soul is to inhabit. The massive mother ship soul force uses its own volition to create a personality of its choosing from the parts of itself it wishes to heal, as Gary Zukav calls it –  ‘a unique and perfectly suited instrument’ for the particular incarnation.

However in both the Hindu and New Age versions the soul as Indweller (Hindu) and the Mother Ship (New Age) remain the source of good inspiration and wisdom for the personality which in both cases is free to ignore it.

In addition to the Mother soul the New age thinking also introduces Guides, Teachers, Angels and Masters who assist in aligning the personality with the soul to heal it. These entities are also souls but ones without blemishes and at a higher level of vibration. The splintered Mother soul seeks their help not only to align the personality but also in conceiving a new personality for further healing. The entire purpose of life on the physical plane is to enable souls to heal and evolve.

Whatever the argument or cosmology, both versions emphasize the need for human evolution but each takes a different cultural approach for the identical goal. While the New Age version is attractive as it firmly places the initiative in the hands of the soul as the agent of action rather than leaving it to a Karmic fatalism, it in the final analysis goes against the grain of both Eastern and Christian/Jewish belief systems. For instance how would the long history of belief and emotion tied to the concept of divinity within be able to reconcile to the new paradigm? It cannot afford to lose the anchor of its cultural moorings. On the other hand for Christianity the problem would be the concept of rebirth and a soul not answerable before God on the day of judgement but its own master to deal with its need to heal. The new concepts would only be palatable to those who are not tied to their traditional moorings, but have taken their ship to the high seas for dropping anchor at another shore.

Primavera (the personification of spring) by Sandro Botticelli - Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence Credit Wikipaintings.org

Primavera (the personification of spring) by Sandro Botticelli – Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence
Credit Wikipaintings.org

 

The spirit of Nature is a manifestation of the Universal Essence, immanent in every cell and atom and in the void as a force pregnant with the possibility of forms yet to emerge. It stirs the wind, moves the waves joyously and makes the Yin and Yang, polar opposites perpetually chase one another like the spokes of a wheel. It makes electrons dance around the nuclei of atoms in differing numbers to give so-called inanimate matter its character and qualities, its form and shape, the appearance of solidity. It engages in the divine play to create levels of reality which appear to change as you go from one dimension to another or from the macrocosm to the microcosm or yet again from one pair of human eyes to another pair of canine eyes or from that to the eight eyes of the spider or the complex eyes of a bee. Reality changes depending on which level you are or through which visual lens it is being perceived and to which type of brain those visual signals are transmitted.

English: Yin & Yang

Credit Wikipedia commons

The Spirit causes everything to move in circles from the seasons, to day and night as the earth spins on its axis, the solar system as it swings around the sun, the cells in our body as they rush through our circulatory system, the electrons around the neutrons, the waters raining down from the clouds on mountain tops flowing down rivers to the sea, to rise again as vapour and become clouds – all Nature’s circular systems. Even the past into the present and future and dissolution and back to creation are kind of circular.  All cultures celebrate this ephemeral force with the rites of spring when it is at its most creative. The big bang is after all its cosmic spring, the rites of creation.

At the Quantum level it gets even more mysterious and mischievous, defying definitions and turning matter back to the energy from which it emerged and making a mockery of separate identities and egos, showing that our  inherent nature is  an energy field connecting each to the other and making us one. We are all that force, each one of us is also the whole, like the drop is the ocean, the trees are the forest. We are Nature, you are the whole of Nature, I am Nature.

To celebrate, honour and pay homage to Nature I had penned a poem many years ago which I wish to share with you, who too are Nature. I begin the poem with a sense of my unique individuality like no other ( no one can match my finger prints can they?) but close with the understanding that I am in fact just a part of a whole.

                                                                                    W I T N E S S

What I write

And it doesn’t matter if someone

Reads it or not,

I do because

I am a witness

Made up of the same substance that I watch

So carefully

And that is a circumstance

 So unique

Like the dinosaur’s

Incidental footprints in the rocks

Or the geological secrets locked

In involuntary asteroids

Floating free for eternity.

 

For instance

Can you imagine

How light

Metamorphosed into an eye,

The decibel of sound

Sought to be heard

And that arch of the ear appeared

In flesh,

Functional like the horn

Of a gramophone?

 

And the rhythms of the sea

became the rhythms of the mind

Or was it the moon pulling the tides

Or the spinning earth

Or the sun, its shadows

Day and night

That built our fluid natures

And helped us polarize

into opposites?

 

The other day

I was pursued

By a black polyethylene bag

Full of wind

Racing like a cat so adroit

That I had to step aside

To let it pass.

The elements had caught it up

Playfully to give it life

As is their wont,

So with a little more effort

And time

One is not surprised

What they have done.

 

Sound has a way

Not only of being heard

But of being spoken out,

Sound has found a way

Of shaping a mouth;

Roar, chirp, speech

The resonance of each

Given its signature voice.

 

This great green oceanic lung,

Distillate of the elements

In perpetual flux,

Still and calm contained

Or lashing the shores,

Heaving into mountains

Or collapsing to its core,

Inhales, exhales,

Whales in its vitals

Shoals near its shores,

Crustaceans everywhere,

Clouds racing above,

Whirlpools and spirals

Spawning eagles and gulls.

 

Winds into wings,

Waves into fins,

Elements furiously stirring,

Elements in focus

Into minds

In us.

 

As a witness

I leave my fingerprints

Of  the same elements

That moulded me

From the dust.

James Cameron's movie Avatar - floating soul blossoms

James Cameron’s movie Avatar – floating soul blossoms

Over the last  century the cleavage between science and spiritualism has stirred a reaction. The stark materialism engendered by secular science has begun to reach a point of saturation like the spiritual stagnation of the Middle Ages. A new urge is thrusting itself  in a spiritual direction, not necessarily towards organized religion. Even without the vehicle of religion, spiritualism has been active in the human psyche, manifesting itself in the most unlikely quarters – Science Fiction.

I have always found Science Fiction fascinating and elevating because its scientific fantasies appear to reach out and touch an ethereal force. It has become a genre where  spiritual  and scientific impulses appear to merge. In Sci.Fi. the human psyche and imagination have created not only scientific fantasy but mingled it with the spirit and the supernatural.

Arthur C. Clarke‘s ‘Childhood’s End’ is an outstanding example of Science Fiction postulating the evolution of man into a spiritual being, moving out from the pale of mundane existence into the higher realms of the spirit, albeit with the help of an alien. I never enjoyed a book more –  stunning, hair raising and  elevating. Furthermore let us not forget that Clark was in fact a scientist turned to writing fiction.

Spelberg's movie, Close Enconters of the Third Kind

Spelberg’s movie, Close Enconters of the Third Kind

Steven Spielberg’s runaway box office hit  ‘Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind’  likewise represents  the urge to encounter a higher more spiritually evolved species. The encounter is like a 20th century scientific encounter with the ‘angels’ of yesteryear. ‘Star Wars’ is a modern myth replete with ‘the force’ of good and the character Yoda can easily be identified with the sages of the Upanishadic forests. Contact by Carl Sagan was another in the same genre linking science and a journey through space with spiritual communion with a higher order of being on a beach beyond time and logic.  Again Sagan was an astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist who expressed a spiritual urge in fiction.

soul treeJames Cameron’s Avatar is the latest in the same genre. On the one hand is science and exploration of the cosmos, on the other the mystical planet Pandora where all beings are connected by a mysterious force represented by the mother tree making all beings on the planet act as one organism. The chimera of floating soul blossoms unite in a central soul tree. It is evident that  Cameron wishes to juxtapose science with the mystical. What is notable is not merely that Science Fiction tends to link science with metaphysics in its sagas but more importantly the kind of universal and frenzied response that such mingling produces at the box office. The mind of man clearly is crying out for  a union of science and spirit not merely from the erudite and intellectual elite but equally from the adolecents teens and youth. 

Yet to be released, ‘The Host’, an adaptation of Stephenie Meyer‘s book of the same name, depicts the soul as a benign alien lodged in the human body, much like the Hindu concept of the soul.

Clearly, spiritualism is back like a butterfly that left its empty chrysalis of traditional religion on the twig of the past to reunite in the present with the flower of science.

partings

In preceding posts we saw that Science and Spiritualism were inextricably conjoined from earliest times right till the Middle Ages. The suffocating atmosphere created by the rise of religious dogma and orthodoxy and intolerance of any thought that went contrary to it, finally led to a growing desire among  free thinkers to be rid of the shackles of religion and charter an independent course.

The European Renaissance helped in affecting that escape, even if this was only through harking back to a glorification of ancient Greece and Rome, the great thinkers of antiquity. On the other hand the Protestant Reformation carried forward the revolution in thinking to rid itself of the shackles of an unwelcome period of human non-development. The human scientific temper extricated itself from the shell and moved out. The scientific bent split from its natural other half spiritualism which had become increasingly, if mistakenly associated with religious dogmatism, and now stood apart. By the time we reach the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century the enthusiasm and fervour to prevent a recurrence of the suffocating experience of the Middle Ages had already produced a profound schism between science and spiritualism. Henceforth, science shunned spiritual insight and inspiration and devised methodologies and stratagems to make the division permanent and irreversible.

Science now became  secular, employing empirical research, evidence and proof as the sole processes for its progress. By the time we reach the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century the two had moved apart and begun to charter their separate and divergent courses over succeeding centuries. Religious dogma loosing little of its intolerance and scientific knowledge distancing itself from its other half, developing only the results of secular research through the evidence of calculable proofs. In the process, science inevitably began to ignore and shun areas of  metaphysics, parapsychology and paranormal phenomena, relegating them to the realms of conjecture and fancy. Thus science once part of religion turned its back on spiritual inspiration.

Religion though suffering a grievous loss at the surgical amputation of the scientific temper and plagued by its own dogma carried on its activities in splendid isolation. Spiritualism, on the other hand, being a basic element of human nature and the mental process, continued as a force in its own rights within the psyche, urging, probing and seeking realisation, sometimes through religious inspiration and within the mould of religion, at others outside any definite framework through mystical and metaphysical inspiration of individuals and esoteric groups. Spiritualism like science, one may say, had also more or less broken free from the confines of religious doctrine and dogma.

Vedic Sage: the scientist of yesteryear

Vedic Sage: the scientist of yesteryear

In the previous posts we dwelt on the idea that science and spiritualism were inseparable and complimentary and saw that in pre – history they were indistinguishable. Wonderment and curiosity about nature and the desire to harness it reflected a mystical urge combined with a pragmatic, scientific inclination being expressed together.

With the advent of civilization these urges took concrete form and shape in established religion. The magical practices evolved into religious rituals. Religion became the vehicle for fundamental enquiry into the world and our relationship with it. Sages, seers and the ecclesiastical order engaged in examination and surmise of  natural,  supernatural and astronomical phenomena. Likewise religion became the foundation for development of ethical concepts and codes of civilized behaviour. Spiritual inspiration engendered glorious movements in the fine arts, music, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, alchemy, medicine and scientific enquiry in support of  scriptural pronouncements. Religious institutions like Church, Temple or monastic orders became the repositories of knowledge of the unknown in every avenue of human advancement. Religion developed theories of creation, of the natural order and the cosmos. It also examined the cosmology of the spirit.

Every new advance was related to religion and brought to serve it. Religious thought was both mystical and pragmatic, metaphysical and physical, magical yet progressive, spiritual and scientific in inspiration. The best minds were at the service of religion. Sages and Yogis dwelling in the forests, the deserts and the mountains, meditated on the ultimate, much as scientists do today in their labs. They became the repositories of wisdom attracting disciples and students who gravitated towards them to learn the arts and crafts, jurisprudence, astrology. mathematics, medicine and Yoga  and share their findings on the mysteries of the manifest and unmanifest worlds.

Technology then was the ritual of prayer and propitiation and science was another term for religion. Chapter seven of the Gita for instance is titled ‘The Yoga of Knowledge and Science’ (Gyan – Vigyan Yoga) and explains the nature of the material world and its relationship to the spiritual world. In that dawn of history therefore the priest, hermit, sage, dervish and Brahmin was considered by common folk as a scientist is viewed today. They were the Newtons, Einsteins and Planks of  yesteryear and the ‘Church’ a laboratory where knowledge, discoveries and inventions were churned out by the finest minds of the epoch. Science and Spiritualism were synonymous.

statue of Patanjali - ancient author of Yoga treatises

statue of Patanjali – ancient author of Yoga treatises

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