Consider what these essays aim to establish: the plausibility of a mind-like awareness that coexists and coincides with material reality. My hope is to reassure receptive readers that scientific fact is consistent with the view that the universe operates very much like what we call a mind, and that it does so as a natural outcome of the behavior of matter, energy, space, and time.
What sort of mind would this be? I propose it be an ancient, caring presence that simultaneously resonates in the background and permeates the foreground. That it is old goes without saying. That it is caring can be seen in a number of ways we will get to eventually. That it is insinuated throughout Creation follows from its implementation by the ground of reality itself. (A lot hinges on these last two sentences, and supporting them will be a major project of the coming discussion. For now, let’s just consider what’s being proposed.)
Haven’t all the great mystics pointed to a timeless, pervasive presence that unites the cosmos in a bond of love? Of course. So what’s being proposed is just what’s been called the Tao, Divine Principle, Brahman, Great Mystery, Godhead, and so on. Hardly anything new here. (But please note that this quality differs from the personalized deities of many organized religions. In time I’ll address the relationship between a mind-like cosmos that exists in and for itself and human conceptions built from brief glimpses and incomplete understanding. For now we only need to recognize the distinction.)
Is the linking of science to the experience of presence a radically novel undertaking? Not at all. At least since Fritjof Capra published The Tao of Physics in 1975, courageous scientists have attempted to ground mystical thought with modern empirical findings. The essays here merely offer my own take on the subject. Since I was trained as a biologist rather than a physicist (this being true despite graduate education in biophysics), I’m not even that credible as a commentator on quantum mechanics and related topics. After all, Nobel contenders like Ervin László and David Bohm have written along these lines. What gives me the audacity to try my hand at this venture?
First, I bring to the table careful study of science combined with powerful mystical experiences spanning many years. Early on, transcendent states came unbidden; they arose spontaneously and threatened my sanity. Luckily, I’ve since learned how they work, so they no longer disturb me; sometimes, I can even summon them at will. My rational brain has learned to tolerate and learn from the vibrant, wordless, non-rational state. When I write about science and mysticism, I write from the perspective of one who’s felt both world views unite in harmony.
More importantly, the process of balancing left and right brain approaches solved the central problem of my past: learning to accept life as livable. Resolution of the tension between scientific and mystical thinking led to resolution, too, of my torment. Although my moods continue to cycle between ecstatic highs and oppressive lows, I no longer feel driven to suicide by the chaos in my skull. I embrace it as yet another natural process, though one that often hurts. Like the growth of a seedling, the decay of a corpse, and the pulse of the tides, the qualities in my mind flow back and forth, one moment sweet and uplifting, another bitter and harrowing. I’ve learned to see all this flux and turmoil with sufficient breadth that suicide no longer tempts me. To leave this world before my time would mean walking out on the marvelous pageant of my life. Why would I ever do that?
To conclude for today: in writing about the rational/mystical coherence that I’ve been groping toward for years, and that finally came within reach on a vision quest earlier this month, I will be presenting more than just logical analyses of empiric fact. I will also be describing resonant mental states that subsume scientific understanding into mystical consciousness. I will explain how the combination of scientific study, spontaneous transcendence, and contemplative/meditative practice guided me to insight into some key qualities of reality. Most importantly, I will frame everything within my gradual acceptance of injuries and vulnerabilities. Consider the goal a memoir of scientific mysticism leading to ease of mind.
To those few people reading these tracts: please understand that your interest is vital to me. I lack the discipline to write completely alone; without one or two readers following along, I’d make little progress. These essays should be considered the first draft of an eventual manuscript, one that I hope will spell out my understanding and experiences with both efficiency and lyricism. But the initial constructs cannot live up to those adjectives. So my heartfelt thanks goes out to you for enduring the uneven writing, disorganized development, and glacial pace of what’s being presented. Blessings.
NOTE: This essay is one in a series that began after a Vision Quest in the high desert. The first entry in the sequence was: When Questions Find Answers. If you’re finding the above line of thought intriguing, you might want to begin with that opening piece and read forward through the blog.
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