This is Post 2 in the ‘Mandala of Love’ book blog series.
I am disturbed by what I see in the world. Even as I am personally seeking to orient myself to that which is eternal and satisfactory, I am keenly aware of the suffering that we are collectively creating for ourselves on this planet. While I hear others expressing wilful optimism, I cannot help but see a world in the grip of a frightening unconsciousness, and making deeply unsustainable choices that will lead to misery. Our world appears to be caught between, on one side, a postmodern world-view that rejects as ideology, the notions of social progress, objective reality, morality, truth and reason (following, it would seem, Friedrich Nietzsche’s dictum – “there is no truth, only interpretations’), leading to various forms of nihilism and narcissism; and, on the other side, fierce amoral world-shaping ideologies such as neoliberalism and religious extremism.
There is however, in the 21st Century, an emerging community of people throughout the world, who are seeking a new ethical basis for humanity; who would wish to seek out and establish a post-postmodern foundation for ethics and social justice. They seek a movement forward culturally and spiritually – one which specifically avoids merely retreating back to either conventional religious belief or the limitations of a merely humanistic moral philosophy. These are the creative and reflective people that will be interested in the content available on this website, where I hope to present understandings and practices that support a grounded spirituality that is deeply ethical because it is rooted in the experiential study of Consciousness.
Consciousness as an objective field
My belief, based on my experience, and on a lifetime of spiritual study and practice, is that Consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the brain, but exists, and has always existed, as an objective presence in the universe – a presence that is universal and benevolent in particular ways, and can even be described as being a compassionate, evolutionary, and healing force. This belief has become a form of faith for me – perhaps better described as confidence or trust. As someone who, despite experiences to the contrary, has lived in a scientific materialist world-view for most of my life, this new knowing has been something of a revelation – and quite a challenge to my old habits of mind.
Consciousness as inherently ethical
So, the core of my thesis, and the core theme of the material presented here is that Consciousness, and the subtle qualitative mental functions that arise in association with Consciousness, are the basis of human ethics, and are our only reliable guide to what is ultimately satisfying and sustainable, and that this knowledge is easily accessible and knowable in our own experience through meditation and self-inquiry.
Consciousness as a driving force in Evolution
One of the most important sub-themes, that I hope to be demonstrating in this book, is the fact that the field of Consciousness has shaped human evolution – and has shaped the human brain. Our continuous interaction with that field is the distinguishing feature of our humanity. Homo Sapiens is a uniquely empathetic, imaginative, collaborative, and richly creative creature, and all of this springs from the nature of Consciousness. We are almost certainly alone in our galaxy – and possibly unique in the whole universe, and yet this planet and the lives of human beings are treated without reverence – for lack of a world-view that acknowledges the mystery and wonder of our situation.
Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics
My view of evolution is rooted in scientific facts, but goes far beyond the conventional atheist view of most scientific discourse. It is not a religious view either. My aim is to combine the scientific and spiritual sensibilities in a new synthesis that is balanced and respectful towards both. The most obvious place in which these two strands are coming together is in a new hypotheses in regard to the mind-brain problem. In my view, no better explanation for Consciousness has yet been put forward than that proposed by Roger Penrose (a mathematical physicist) and Stuart Hameroff (an anaesthesiologist). Their elegant model places the threshold or interface between the quantum mechanical and classical functioning of the brain, in the molecular micro-tubules within neurons.
Because quantum physics is so impenetrable for most people, and because the culture of the scientific community, and that of the religious establishments, have historically tended to be so polarised against each other, the implications of these ideas are only slowly being recognised. There is great potential however for this knowledge to provide the foundation for a spiritual renaissance. I believe, like many others, that the 21st Century needs to evolve a universal spirituality, and a spiritual psychology, that can provide a new ethical foundation – an experienced truth rather than a belief. Science brings with it a spirit of objectivity and universality, which rises above the limitations of language, and of cultural forms, so once the implications of quantum mechanics have been accepted by the scientific community, it has the potential to play a very important part in the healing of human culture and spirituality.
Consciousness as the Divine
So in short, it is my conviction – and I am certainly not alone in this – that Consciousness, when we examine it carefully, is in many respects identical to what previous generations would have called God; and that the study of Consciousness is the key to the realisation of human potential. For me, our starting point is the recognition that Consciousness is what previous generations would have called the omnipresent field of the Divine. And the process of becoming deeply familiar with that reality, provides us with a new basis for the ethical discernment, ethical action, and ethical vigilance, that we so need – in order to face the complexities and dangers of the modern world.
A Spiritual Psychology of Consciousness
My hope, is that I will be able to contribute to a body of experiential knowledge that supports this view, drawing on my experience of Buddhism, Quakerism, Christianity, archetypal psychology, my work in the Occupational Therapy profession; together with my studies in brain science, quantum physics, and biology; and on my years of psychological innerwork, self-inquiry and meditation. Such is the culture of specialisation in the modern world that these areas of discourse are not usually brought together, and many important connections are not made.
My aim is to provide reflection on all these areas in a way that combines and brings new understandings – a new synthesis which, I believe, the world urgently needs. It is my wish that this synthesis will support the many people in the world who share my concerns.
© William Roy Parker 2017
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