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 that 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 who 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.
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 acting as a compassionate, evolutionary, and healing force. This belief has become a form of faith for me – a deep and passionate conviction. As someone who has, despite experiences to the contrary, 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.
So, the core of my thesis, and the core theme of the material on this website 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 this knowledge is easily accessible and knowable in our own experience through meditation and self-inquiry. I hope to be posting articles regularly, and some of these blog posts will be based on sections from my forthcoming book: A Mandala of Love: Consciousness, Ethics, and Society.
One of the most important sub-themes, that I hope to be demonstrating in the book, is the fact that the field of Consciousness has shaped human evolution, and has shaped the human brain, and that 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 the human beings who live here are treated without reverence – for lack of a world-view that acknowledges the mystery and wonder of our situation.
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 to both. The most obvious place in which these two strands are coming together is in new understandings of 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), whose elegant model places the threshold or interface between the quantum mechanical functioning of the brain (i.e. Consciousness), and classical (i.e. neurological) functioning of the brain, not in the synapses, but 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. But there are now clear signs that this knowledge could 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, one based on experienced truths rather than a beliefs. Science brings with it a spirit of objectivity and universality, which rises above the limitations of language and of cultural forms, and once the implications of quantum mechanics have been accepted, it has the potential to play an important part in the healing of human culture and spirituality.
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, the recognition of Consciousness as the omnipresent field the Divine is our starting point. 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 to face the complexities and dangers of the modern world.
In my book I hope to set out 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, so that 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 that, I believe, the world urgently needs. It is my wish that this synthesis will support those who share my concerns, which is why I have decided to share my writing on this website as a series of blog posts.
© William Roy Parker 2017