If you experience it, it’s the truth.
The same thing believed is a lie.
In life, understanding is the booby prize.
As human beings, we inhabit an ocean of symbols that represent our living experience. As language, they were derived from that experience, but began to assume a life of their own. Everything becomes reducible to words and numbers. If the experience can’t be represented by one of these forms of communication, it is too often discounted.
We all have belief systems, whether examined or not, stemming from childhood. This is how we put the world together, brick by brick. They may be political, religious or even scientific. They might best be considered as models of reality. As the great semanticist, Alfred Korzybski, put it, “The map is not the territory.”
Models may be evaluated by how useful they are in making predictions, so that we can have a better sense of control, even power. If they prove useless, then they are best thrown out. Otherwise, we will soon find ourselves enslaved.
Once we become aware that any of our belief systems is just that, a belief system, we can find our path to freedom.
What we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell are all in someway measurable, and susceptible to the scientific method. Here, we take something to be real if it is quantifiable, if you can put it into numerical form. It must be verifiable by other people, and subject to the critical analysis of peer review, published in scientific journals.
Outer belief systems can be valid or invalid.
The Ptolemaic theory of the solar system put the earth at the center, with the sun circling around it. That is the way it appears to us with the naked eye. However, this approach had many inconsistencies, which were rationalized by the convoluted orbits of the planets. The theory became increasingly cumbersome, awaiting a simpler explanation.
Nicholas Copernicus, Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei overturned this intuitive impression of the solar system through the invention of the telescope. Through careful study and measurement, they developed a much simpler and more elegant theory of the planets and gravity, which we now take for granted. Of course the earth moves around the sun!
Most of us grew up with the ultimate questions: Who am I? Who made me? Where am I going? Many of these are answered for us by subscribing to a given religious or philosophical belief system. Although you can’t see Him with your eyes, there is a personal God who spoke the universe into being. This is not directly subject to scientific explanation, but it might be necessary as an inference. For many people, without the belief in a personal God, the universe would make no sense.
Inner belief systems are not measurable, or subject to the scientific method as we most often think of it. This does not mean that we can’t have an inner science, just as we have an outer science. The Dalai Lama urged prominent scientists to consider developing this.
We can build an inner belief system based upon our own intuition and inner processes. What is called Cosmic Consciousness can occur to anyone at any time, whether or not they are religious. It provides a direct experience that you are one with everything you see. Two people might gaze at the Grand Canyon. One experiences unity with it; the other simply delights in the glorious pastel rock formations.
When scientists approach their subject matter with a sense of awe, as did Albert Einstein and even Carl Sagan, they have an experiential approach. They let the universe speak for itself, and then listen carefully to what it has to say. Many of the early quantum physicists were mystics, including Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrodinger. They deeply resonated with the insights of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Charles Darwin was a meticulous observer who went around the tropical islands creating intricate drawings of plants and animals. He started out building collections of natural plant and animal specimens. In the process, Darwin grew a gradual conviction that the differences in life forms were a result of an evolutionary process, a gradual complexification of life.
True scientists test and retest their hypotheses. They take nothing for granted, and are totally willing to look at any evidence that disproves their ideas. If an idea doesn’t survive this careful scrutiny, they throw it out. Many of the greatest scientists have an extraordinary modesty. Sir Isaac Newton commented that he was throwing pebbles at the sea when he looked at his work in comparison with the majesty of creation.
Carl Jung claimed that we have four distinct and complementary psychic functions, four ways of knowing: Thinking, Sensing, Feeling and Intuiting. Because of cultural developments in Western Europe and America, the Modern Age put a premium on Thinking and Sensing over against Feeling and Intuiting. You might see it as masculine over feminine, or left-brain over right brain.
Yet Feeling and Intuiting are valid ways of knowing, and often far more efficient than Thinking and Sensing. When you meet someone, you often pick up things about him or her that you can’t easily put in words. Is someone truthful or dishonest, reliable or a flake? Often we can pick these things up in seconds, without knowing why. This is a major reason most jobs require a personal interview.
When you fall in love with a woman or man, how do you know it? How do you know he or she loves you? Is love something you can put under a microscope? Do you experience love when you are around him / her? Does someone else need to verify that for you? Of course not!
If you have ever watched any debates around the Theory of Evolution, you soon realize just how futile they can be. Neither side listens to the other. The evolutionists know they are right, and the creationists are wrong. Of course, the creationists know they are right and the evolutionists are wrong. Since the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, why don’t we just throw the Bible out? The universe just happened. Darwin showed us how.
Evolution is a most brilliant theory with mountains of evidence. Yet, is it really a fact? Does it even need to be a fact? If it helps us understand how life on earth came into being, it is most certainly useful. However, what good does it do to elevate it into a sacrosanct belief? This goes 100% against the best of the scientific tradition. Jules Verne had one of his characters in Journey to the Center of the Earth, maintain, “Our job is not to prove, but to disprove.”
Contemporary evolutionary theory has now been dramatically refined. With Darwin, all features of plants and animals were merely an adaptive survival mechanism. It was all survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle. This, of course, was used by Western Europeans to justify colonial exploitation. Recent research has focused on the ecological nature of life; how systems work together to collectively survive. This is a completely different emphasis than that of Darwin.
I started out as child with distaste for evolutionary theory. It seemed to be based on accidental mutations that worked to further life, when I heard that actual mutations under scientific investigation are usually destructive. I further came under the influence of Christian Fundamentalists with their doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture. God directly inspired every word in the Bible.
It took me a long time to appreciate the poetry of the Bible, that metaphor can convey truths otherwise impossible to grasp. The Six Days of Creation in Genesis 1 can be taken metaphorically, rather than literally. The order of creation in the Bible exactly matches that of evolutionary theory. So what is the problem?
Even more to the point, quantum physics makes possible the idea that God actually spoke the universe into being, as speech is vibration, and vibration seems to be the very basis for the dance of life. Furthermore, the Big Bang Theory portrays everything in the known universe emerged from an infinitesimally small point, from nothing. Creationists simply need a Bigger God.
To truly know anything, we must become it. Just like peeling an orange, we thankfully devour every slice of it, assimilating it into our system. As we become the orange, the orange becomes us. On a much deeper sense, to know God is to experience God directly. Jesus Christ, before His passion, used the metaphor of bread and wine to represent His body and blood. Yet the deeper meaning of communion follows. To know Christ, we must become Christ. To know God, we must become God.
To truly know anything, we must become it.
Truth is not limited to any one religious, philosophical or scientific tradition. If you press any system to its limits, it will lead you to the place where you become what you investigate. We eventually come to the True, the Good and the Beautiful, to Unity, Love and Perfection. We then come to realize THAT which experiences the Universe created the Universe.
We ultimately see that we are THAT, both Creator and Created.
What do you think?