by Douglas Lockhart
Have just read your piece on the “Abyss.”
Scientists working from the perspective of science simply cannot do other than what they’ve been trained to do.
If you haven’t experienced said Abyss then you have no way of appreciating what a mystic might say about it – ‘darkness that is actually light? Absorbing benign joy and fulfilment laced with awe and wonder?
Scientists have a problem with this because, as you rightly point out, they’re working from the perspective of the human mind/brain nexus fixated on mind /brain interactions.
But there are scientists experienced in meditation who make the attempt to articulate something of this greater perspective back to their own kind, a perspective succinctly captured by the physicist Paul Davies when he says that we have to embrace “a different concept of understanding” in relation to what we know about the nature of reality. And he goes further. “Is there”, he asks “a route to ‘ultimate knowledge’ outside of rational inquiry?”
This would be an alarming notion but for the fact that Einstein, Wigner, Pauli, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Eddington and Jeans were all of similar mind. The emphasis on ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’ stands firm, it just the perspective that has to change.
This is where ‘responsibility’ comes in, not in the sense of being some kind of guru to the masses (like yourself I have no interest in such matters) but in the very ordinary sense of being a good communicator.
It’s all about communication, and as a trained and practiced communicator you have had your finger on that button since before we met.
It isn’t then a matter of convincing anyone of anything; it’s a matter of alerting other receptive minds to something they may already suspect but have no proper levels of information about – which, again, is what you’re doing with your blog.
Some individuals have spontaneous experiences, others a gradual entrance to such experiences through meditative/contemplative processes. I’ve had both.
Others sense something but don’t know what it is. Others are no more than intellectually intrigued by the philosophical questions such experiences evoke.
“The physicist Paul Davies says that we have to embrace “a different concept of understanding” in relation to what we know about the nature of reality. And he goes further. “Is there”, he asks “a route to ‘ultimate knowledge’ outside of rational inquiry?”
It takes all kinds, and it requires patience to speak of such things. This isn’t giving in to science; it’s just being polite in face of the difficulties involved.
Scientists in my experience mostly respond to politeness. They are after all human beings on their time off from being professionals. As a result mystics will not be seen as a threat but as respectors of substantial thinking whatever its form, and wherever it may arise.
Consequently, both scientists and mystics, should, and many are, taking a closer look at the language they employ.
Douglas Lockhart writes extensively on the dilemmas facing modern Christians, and on the philosophical dilemmas Christians and non–Christrian face in their daily lives. He is the author of Jesus the Heretic (1997) and The Dark Side of God (1999), two books dealing with the historical origins and development of Christianity, and has just completed a three volume work titled The Perennial Philosophy Revisited in memory of Aldous Huxley’s paradigm-changing contribution.
His work has been described by leading academics as ‘thoroughly rational in its approach’, his writing style likened to that of a ‘detective story that is hard to put down’. He is an Associate Member of the Westar Institute (USA), and an Honorary Research Associate with the University of Tasmania’s School of Philosophy in Australia.