Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Creation and Evolution

This question addresses a topic on which I can't claim any real knowledge and which I have, therefore, so far avoided.  But it is an important topic because it concerns a fundamental truth which has been the object of attack by, I would speculate, forces antagonistic to humanity's spiritual growth over the last century or so. And if I can't claim any definitive knowledge (anymore than anyone living in this world can), I can still have an intuitive stab at what might be the case given what I am quite certain of, which is the reality of the spiritual world.

Q. In your book you make some brief remarks about evolution. Would you be able to elaborate on those a bit? For instance, what would be the Masters' position on the evolution/intelligent design question? Creation or evolution, which is it?

A.  This is a question that can be something of a litmus test for spiritually interested people in that it examines their response to the wisdom of this world plus their ability to remain connected to higher truths when these are not conventionally accepted: indeed, when they are actively rejected by most people. (Naturally I am talking about a sensible response. A retreat into literalism is not that.) Often each side in this debate totally dismisses the position of the other but, for my part, I don't regard evolution and creation to be inherently incompatible though obviously, in that case, neither can be taken in the exclusive way their materialist and fundamentalist religious proponents would take them.

But first of all I must make clear that I can't speak for the Masters as they did not talk about this subject other than to state in passing that the body was designed for beings of a lesser evolution . and was more suited to their needs.  So the words evolution and design are mentioned though evolution is used here to mean spiritual unfoldment rather than in its scientific sense. But it's clear that what is being said is that the human body was intended as a vehicle for a specific purpose which is the growth or expansion of consciousness, and that therefore it hasn't just come about by accident. However I think that's the only sure conclusion we can draw from this brief reference.

Therefore we are on our own, and the way I approach this matter is through a combination of intuition and ordinary thinking, the one supporting the other. However, for me, intuition always takes precedence even if I have to make sure that what I am calling intuition really is that and not just some personal preference dressed up in fancy clothes. I have to say that this is not too difficult if one is able to look at one's thought patterns objectively though that, admittedly, is not always easy! Be that as it may, the point is that human ways of thinking can never know truth by themselves which is why it is a waste of time arguing with an atheist or someone whose approach to reality is based on a strictly mental approach. (Theoretically based, I should say, as often what is claimed to be purely rational is just a rationalisation of an emotional prejudice, but that's another matter). Truth, meaning that which is, is just not accessible to the mind but it can be known intuitively. A perfect example of this is the recent almost universal acceptance of same-sex marriage which to the ordinary mind, reared on (or indoctrinated by) the prevailing belief system of humanism, just seems the natural outcome of the application of fairness and equality, but to the spiritual intuition is seen to be an ontological contradiction in terms if not absurdity, quite contrary to reality which is based on the creative union of complementary opposites. Truth is higher than fairness or equality which doesn't mean that these are to be ignored but that they must be seen in the context of the overall scheme of things, and viewed in tandem with other equally real, or maybe more fundamental, principles. They are not the sole determinants in any particular matter. All that just to say that my main inspiration in working out the evolution/creation question is intuition, though that is checked and balanced by head thinking.

I believe we must start from the position that there has obviously been some sort of evolutionary process at work over the ages. The findings of science leave little room for doubt on that score. From there, though, to conclude that this is just driven by random mutation and survival of the fittest is going way too far and suggests that the wish is father to the thought, which is not to say that these play no part in the process, particularly in the non-human kingdoms. Only that they are not the primary mechanism. Even if we set intuition aside common sense and reason should tell us that natural selection, alone and unaided, simply cannot account for the world and everything in it however long one allows it, and that means that evolution is not blind. It has a purpose and it has a goal. As for mankind, we are not just intelligent apes but a creation that was deliberately brought about to reconcile and integrate the two opposites in the universe of spirit and matter or consciousness and the phenomenal world, the world within and the world out there. Breath and dust as one might say. An animal lives exclusively in its natural environment. It cannot separate itself from that, but our glory (and the source of our short term misery and suffering) is that we live in two worlds. Even though we are part of nature we have an inner life and through that can eventually unite spirit and matter in full consciousness and, in the process of doing so, become fully conscious participants in a creation which is differentiated but one. All this is not the product of a directionless evolution, but an evolutionary process helps to bring it about.

What this means is that I see evolution as a blend of intelligence, purpose and will on the one hand - there is a plan and there is a goal - and what we may call chance on the other as the laws of nature work out in the ways currently envisaged by scientists. That is to say, overall there is direction by a Divine Intelligence but within that there is a good deal of flexibility and room for variation in line with the accepted principles of contemporary evolutionary understanding. Consequently I see the human form as brought to its current state (doubtless from pre-existing material) as a specific vehicle for spiritual beings to gain the experience needed for the growth of their consciousness. It has not come about purely by chance. I see no contradiction between the idea that the forms we use have their prototype on an archetypal level and that they come into being on this physical level through a mixture of natural process and spiritual direction. I also see men and women as descended spiritual beings in human form rather than having ascended up through the animal kingdom – even though the forms they use may have done just that. And I draw a clear distinction between animal and human consciousness, regarding the former as life working its way up through matter alone while the latter is the union of matter and spirit and possesses the divine spark. Of course, all is spirit in the ultimate sense but there is spirit as pure consciousness and spirit as energy substance. Uniting the two, which is what we are for, takes life, always whole and perfect, to higher and higher states of wholeness and perfection. Greater consciousness, love and creativity.

So evolution as we understand it today is a half truth. As an explanation of how life forms change and develop, it has much to recommend it. As an explanation of life itself, of consciousness and of the origin of human beings it is completely wrong if not downright deluded.

Thus we can say that evolution is a good explanation for the profusion and variety of animal forms to be found in nature but does not account for the basic template which exists as something like a Platonic archetype and then manifests in the physical world according to various means, some of which are those described by modern science.  (This is actually hinted at in the Biblical account of creation in Genesis when it says "Let the earth bring forth living creatures" i.e. it is the earth or natural forces that do this not the Creator directly.)  Hence 
I regard evolution principally as an unfolding (which, after all, is what the word actually means) of an intrinsic and always present pattern just as the tree unfolds from the seed and in some way is already present in the seed
. This does not rule out the variations on a theme which would come about in the way we know, but these are the workings out in matter from a pre-existing divine template. They concern substance not essence, outer forms but not Form itself, the inner divine pattern.

To sum up in a sentence, natural selection clearly has a part in the evolutionary process but it is very much secondary to the unfolding from within of pre-existing spiritual pattern.

Despite its insights modern evolutionary theory is a classic circular argument in that it assumes a conclusion, materialism, in order to reach that conclusion. In fact, it has become little more than a creation myth for atheists, materialists and those who don't want to think too seriously about their origin. As seems to be increasingly the case nowadays in many branches of life, it takes an aspect of the truth and makes of it the whole truth. It elevates a part, relatively minor at that, to the whole, but the really interesting question is why does it do that? Why do human beings want to reject spiritual truth? 

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.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Poverty of the Scientific Worldview

In the past I have sometimes been accused of being anti-science because I contest its materialistic bias and dispute its claims to be the surest road to knowledge. I have usually replied that I am not anti-science but against the belief science has that what it knows is all that can be known (either now or at some theoretical time in the future as its knowledge unfolds), and that its modes of operation are the best way to discern what is real. More recently, however, I have revised that opinion and I would now have to say that, yes, I am anti-science or at least what science has made of itself. I will tell you why.

If we take the birth of science in the modern sense as being in the 16th century (a somewhat arbitrary date but more or less accurate), we can see that, whatever the reasons for its initial awakening in the Western consciousness, it soon began to regard itself as the rival to religion rather than its companion and ally. The spiritual worldview founded on faith, which, properly understood, is the openness that encourages the development of intuition, was replaced by a strictly rational approach that rejected anything that could not be confirmed by the senses or proved by reason. I simplify to make a point but this is a broadly correct description of what took place during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Scientists came to believe that mathematics could describe reality, failing to see that mathematics can only describe that limited aspect of reality which it describes, which aspect is but a minute fraction of the whole; one that leaves out whole swathes of reality including the essential part. This part is known through the imagination and intuition, confirmed by scripture and revelation and can be accessed by following the traditional spiritual path and disciplines. However, being beyond form and quantity, it falls outside investigation by a science which limits itself to the external world or that which is immediately apparent to the senses and the mind as normally conceived. Science simply denied what it could not investigate by its own methods, and rejected any other methods or means of approach to reality. It hobbled itself because of its lack of vision, but also because of the unadmitted though quite evident desire for power of its priesthood. In effect, science became the authoritarian church that, in part, it had originally come into being to contest. The religious worldview of the time needed to be balanced, that much is certain, but balance requires equilibrium and pretty soon the scales became weighted far too heavily on the side that favoured fact over meaning.

Now we have a situation in which the scientific worldview is the orthodox one, and heretics are either ridiculed (which admittedly is better than being burned) or dismissed as unintelligent. Even religious people (other than fundamentalists, of course), because they have grown up in a world in which we are all conditioned by the authorities to follow a certain way of thinking, give precedence to science in more and more areas. To the extent sometimes of allowing it to determine how much or how little space should be accorded to their religious beliefs. The undoubted achievements of science on the technological side and the fact that it has made our material lives considerably easier also influence us all to give it our intellectual allegiance when perhaps we should be more discerning.

For there is a problem. Notwithstanding its achievements in the material world and its exposure of much superstition and ignorance, modern science rests on a falsehood because it denies, or sees no reason to acknowledge, metaphysical reality. That is not, of course, the way it would look at itself but it is a truth known to anyone who, either intuitively or through faith, sees that the basis of life is spiritual. This has enormous consequences for how we understand and live in the world, but it also means that science doesn't even understand its own field of operation, the material plane. Why? Because without metaphysical knowledge you cannot even comprehend the natural world properly as you will see what you expect to see according to your pre-existing assumptions which in the case of modern science are entirely materialistic.

This why I maintain that the greatest calamity to befall the human race over the last several centuries is the adoption of the scientific/materialistic/atheistic worldview. I say this because it has resulted in a catastrophic separation of Man from his true being. It has cut us adrift from spiritual reality and led us into an unrecognised hubris, the hubris of a creature that denies its Creator. Now, it is true that the great majority of people are passive victims of this mindset, it being the accepted orthodoxy of the day and therefore hard to resist. But there are some who are active promulgators of this false doctrine and they, whether they know it or not, are doing the devil's work. Very possibly because they share his main vice and besetting sin which is intellectual pride.

For there are some atheists who are so not for supposed rational reasons (mistaken but honest) but because they do not want to live in a universe in which there is a God. One in which they will have to acknowledge a Creator. And these people use science to bolster their prejudice not for a disinterested view of the matter. And they can do this because science is not disinterested, not disinterested enough anyway, as it wants to extend the field in which it has power and authority as far as possible, squeezing out any rival it may have in terms of knowledge. Since religion and metaphysics claim an authority beyond the realm open to science they must be dismissed, preferably as archaic relics from humanity's childhood.

There are, of course, plenty of scientists dedicated to the pursuit of truth as they see it, but they are fatally handicapped by the basic materialistic premise of science as it is understood today as well as their over-reliance on the human intellect. This is why I maintain that the dogmas of science (and it certainly has them) corrupt the mind. For science is concerned only with outer things, but outer things are transient and ultimately unreal except considered as the expression of inner spiritual archetypes which are the only true reality. Consequently scientists will never get to grips with the true nature of things until they abandon their prejudices and preconceptions and humble themselves before the divine.

None of the points I raise here mean that I don't recognise that in the greater scheme of things, and in the context of the times in which it arose, a materialistic science had a part to play. However we are currently trapped in a period of over-dominance by science, and its basic premise is a profound metaphysical error that needs correcting. The good that a purely earthbound science could do, it has done. The evil that it has brought about now needs to be addressed, and urgently. Humanity needs to move on into a future in which science will still play its part but only once it has been radically reformed and brought into line with spiritual wisdom. There is no doubt that it has helped correct previous errors and oversights, but it is now responsible for the greatest error of all which is the denial of spiritual truth. And that is why I am anti-science.

It may be thought that I have over-stated my case to make a point, and perhaps I have. But I see no reason to beat about the bush when the world situation is as far away from truth as it is today.