Science and Mysticism I

I recently came across reference to Mario Beauregard’s book The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul (HarperCollins). In checking the intro of the book online, I discovered Tom Wolfe’s words, “Since consciousness and thought are entirely physical products of your brain and nervous system.” (Note, Mario Beauregard writes against this materialist proposition).  I immediately saw that this is not a verifiable statement and, therefore, not essentially scientific. Not for the first time, it occurs to me that such statements come about because it is difficult, even for the scientists who work in the field, to establish themselves ontologically ie BE, in this case, a human who lives as if the world is an illusion, even though the ‘physical’ science might suggest otherwise.

However, in a sense agreeing with the materialists, the mysticism of Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha’i Faith, suggest that the world IS a type of illusion, mirage, reflection, of some greater reality. From this perspective, language maketh the world. Now this also became a 20th C philosophical idea associated with both existentialism and phenomenology. Baha’u’llah’s teachings seem to come down to the concepts that the mind/soul will acquire whatever it is ‘looking at’, and that, for the main, most of what we look at is fanciful. Rather, the Word of God is a literature (language) that intends to create a best practice foundation of language for the whole human population. Best practice literature acts to create a best ‘knowing’. In turn ‘knowing’, and here I tend to take a lesson out of that modern philosophical handbook, creates ‘being’ and ‘being’ automatically delivers action and behaviour. From a psychological perspective, ‘being’ is the state of true intent rather than the glossy brochure, and intent is the only attitudinal stance that is strongly correlated with behaviour. From best knowing, being (true intent) creates the act of enquiry (search, research, open communication), moral and ethical stance, and integrity.

The greater reality or worlds of God that Baha’u’llah then points to, becomes an ‘out of the box’ situation. That is, the mind is a black box which cannot see itself, only the data that it is pre-determined (by evolution if you will) to filter. However, by pointing to the limitations of the black box and the promise of a greater reality, Baha’u’llah, as other Great educators of the world, create infinite possibilities for the human being whether alive or dead.

Baha’u’llah’s interest lies, not in the rhetorical study, nor a prolonged practice of some mystical experience, for this can become ‘words that end with words’ or perhaps minds that are trained only for self-referent ‘bliss’, both fanciful traps of the mind. His interest lies in the extent that the practice of spiritual discipline, mystical insight and discourse translates into a type of being-in-action, in particular the development of true altruism and service to humanity. To Baha’u’llah, effort towards this framing is where any true knowledge comes from. The mystical viewpoint is all important to this, for unless there is a true intent in reaching for something that materialists say is physically / neurologically impossible, then there can never be a realisation of something that might be altogether possible.

Within this framework of the being-in-service, all mystical, spiritual and religious teachings, become subservient to fostering engagement through service among all human beings such that the whole global society is increasing perturbed towards an altruistic being.

Within that framework, scientific process becomes an essential tool against fancy and towards an understanding of God (The Hidden). Baha’u’llah’s view of science might be paraphrased again, as research-in-action-for-the-service-of-humanity. In one of His mystical works he encourages the leap of faith towards what He believed every human being would feel as granduer. Baha’u’llah seems keen to dispel notions that there is a different state of being of the scientist or the spiritual adept, that we are all seekers/researchers and that seeking requires certain moral and spiritual discipline even before technical skill.

As a social extension, however, Baha’u’llah suggests that the scientific and mystical processes are best expressed through the act of consultation. Governance, then, might be thought of as the dance of the acquiring of knowledge (science by individuals or groups), the social engagement with that knowledge (discourse involving knowledge, lived experience and spiritual meaning), and a daily enactment for best service through leadership consultation. By daily enactment, we might visualise a governance that is being an action driven responsiveness, a learning response, a governmental choice that is both determined on one hand, and fluid to the rapid revision of that choice on the other. Mysticism, in this form, creates an occurring for adherents in which their lives can be an engagement with others on an idea of a ‘reality of the heart’, a detachment from the power models, regardless of the overall social response, on the basis that such material responses as ‘unreal’. This creates a capacity for flourishing of great leadership. To the materialist this leadership might look to be the outcome of a self organising system. To the mystic, a simple question hangs, “Why Not?”, and becomes organising.

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