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The reality we inhabit is comprised of five fundamental components: space, time, matter, radiation, and consciousness. MWS accepts the first four, but insists that consciousness is a product of neurochemistry: sc. that it is an epiphenomenon. Here the view is taken that consciousness is not only fundamental and autonomous, but that it is primary, the ultimate source of all manifestation, and the final sink into which the entire Universe eventually merges. Similar ideas are presented in many ancient documents and teachings. As Sir James Jeans (1877 – 1946) put it,
"The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual."
The interaction of these five components creates both Physical Reality and our perception of it. The body of ideas explaining it is called Physical Theory, a term that has fallen into disuse and is seldom encountered today for reasons that will shortly be explained. MWS insists that Physical Reality is the one, unique, all-encompassing Reality in which the whole Universe is contained, and by which all can eventually be explained. In this it is emulating the monotheistic culture from which it emerged, especially the Abrahamic Traditions that brook no rivals and punish heretics severely.
Having discarded the religious notions that gave it birth, MWS now teaches a philosophy of uncompromising materialism to which unflinching adherence is required by those seeking academic qualifications in the sciences. This is not monotheism – the belief in a single god – but materialist monism – the belief in a single reality: matter. The similarity with its parent religions is so great that it is now regarded by many as having itself become a religion: Scientism. Generally speaking, this is the belief that the assumptions and methods of the physical sciences are equally appropriate to all other disciplines, including philosophy, the humanities and the social sciences, which results in physicalism: the doctrine that reality consists solely of the physical world.
However, belief in other realities is widespread across the world in all countries and cultures. Most common are innumerable religious and quasi-spiritual traditions and doctrines that teach the existence of alternative realities such as heaven, hell, paradise, an afterlife, a spiritual realm or 'plane', and so on. The relationships existing between these and Physical Reality are seldom addressed, much less described in any detail, but most assume the existence of a soul or spirit in human beings that incarnates in and animates the physical body during its life, but is released into its natural or resulting environment on the death of the physical.
Eastern and Oriental traditions contain a vast amount of teaching on such matters. No physical proof of any sort is offered other than occasionally reported 'miracles' and anomalous events of various sorts. Most teach mental and emotional disciplines as the only means of experiencing these non-physical realities whilst incarnate, but those disciplines do not allow the objective, third-party observation required by the empirical methodology of MWS.
A materialist summary of the present situation appears to present a clear, simple picture. The laws of Physical Reality set down by MWS are held to explain all manifest phenomena and events; nothing external is required to account for all observations. Therefore, it is claimed, nothing other than Physical Reality need exist; nor does it. All ideas beyond MWS are speculation at best, describe only phenomena of the imagination, and are thus not real: merely fantasies. This obvious but simplistic perspective and belief is now enforced in all official, authoritative and academic discourse as the only true, acceptable and rational one. Dissenting views are tolerated amongst the general public; but any person who rises to a position of authority and declares belief in extra-physical realities other than traditional religions meets first with strong disapproval, then with censure, and finally with punitive action of some sort, including loss of reputation and employment. A few have managed to survive these onslaughts and sustain their positions amongst an increasingly vocal community of like-minded supporters, but their influence on the general public – and, more importantly, on society and the course of events – is minuscule.
However, it is amusing to note that the very foundation of modern, rationalist thought is attributed to Rene Descartes, whose key inspirational ideas came to him in a series of dreams. As noted by Stanislav Grof in The Holotropic Mind,
"The paradox is that Rene Descartes' Discourse on Method, the book that reformed the entire structure of Western knowledge and that provided the foundations for modern science, came to its author in three visionary dreams, and a dream within a dream which provided the key for interpreting the larger dream. What an irony it is that the entire edifice of rational, reductionist, positivist science, which today rejects 'subjective knowledge', was originally inspired by a revelation in a non-ordinary state of consciousness!"
The results of this were stated quite clearly by Dr David Gross at the 2005 Solvay Conference when he stated, "We don't know what we are talking about". He said that the field is in "a period of utter confusion" comparable to that of 1911: "They were missing something absolutely fundamental. We are missing perhaps something as profound as they were back then." He was quickly forced into a retraction by colleagues, but his words ring true.
The most obvious question arising here is whether these matters are of any import or consequence. Two primary aspects must be addressed; the personal and the social. Should the scientific materialists somehow succeed in proving their case beyond doubt, all those holding spiritual or religious beliefs would have their entire world-view and attitude to life demolished. The converse is also true: should proof of the existence of extra-physical realities be obtained, all holding to materialist views would need to reinvent themselves from fundamentals. The social consequences of either eventuality are readily apparent to all who have investigated them impartially. They are so diverse, wide-ranging and complex that even a summary would require a book devoted to them, and many have been written. This monograph presents a single chain of arguments founded in present-day ideas about Physical Reality. Each link in the chain is discussed briefly, but in sufficient detail for clear comprehension by those having some knowledge of the subject-matter. Not all will agree with the conclusions presented.
The second obvious question is how to determine which of these – the physical monism of materialism or some sort of extra-physical pluralism – best describes our reality. Many criteria have been proposed. That offered here is very simple, but will have limited though useful appeal. In terms of consequences, both perspectives can be applied to ones personal ideas and experiences of love and sex. In the materialist view, love is simply an emotion aroused by sex. All emotions result from chemical states and processes in the body, and so are emergent and ephemeral. Every other attitude about love is fantasy and imagination; and therefore illusory and without reality.
There are many variations and interpretations in the extra-physical understanding of love, but all require accepting that it possesses several levels, shades, or degrees of purity. The highest form of love is spiritual and impersonal. It is not love of a person or object, but a flow of what may be called spiritual energy into mundane consciousness, stimulating emotions that, when intense, are indescribable, being compounded of a deep joy, gratitude, contentment, yet also empathy and even sorrow for life and being with its suffering and struggle. This intense, pure love only arises occasionally, but leaves a deep 'echo' or impression that subtly colours all other experience, and can last for weeks or months. Other feelings of love – for people, places, things – are recognized as being 'lower', less 'high' and pure, but coloured by whatever 'echo' of pure love is present at the time. For those who experience this, sex is a private, deeply-valued expression of love, not the source of it.
The reason why this criterion is recommended here is very simple. Not everyone is capable of experiencing spiritual love, and those who do so experience it in varying degrees. Those for whom it is intense have no doubt of its reality, nor of its extra-physical nature. Such people cannot accept materialist philosophies because they do not describe or explain their own deepest subjective experiences. The converse again is true: people who do not experience spiritual love regard it as an illusion: a mawkish sentiment indulged by those of weak mind and immature emotions. These people readily accept materialist philosophies and extol them as the only valid and rational ones. The majority fall somewhere between these polar extremes, and their philosophical ideas and convictions usually vary from day to day along with the many mixed emotions they experience.
It will undoubtedly seem strange to recommend love as a criterion for judging philosophical and scientific ideas, since these are conventionally regarded as purely intellectual activities in which emotions are not only inappropriate, but potentially misleading. It is a measure of how far we have become separated, not just from our own inner beings, but from all of Nature, that our deepest emotions should be regarded, not merely as antithetical, but as decidedly inimical to our philosophy and science. It is therefore no wonder that MWS is now actively destroying the very biosphere which nurtures and sustains us. No self-respecting modern scientist would confess to loving the natural world, even in the unlikely event that it were true. His job is to try to understand it, learn to control it, and thereby force it to yield the requirements of human ambitions, which today find dominant expression in the greed, exploitation and profit of gigantic industries and corporations. If this results in the destruction of Nature, and along with it the end of humankind, that is not his concern.
True love – spiritual love – is not a mere chemically-stimulated emotion, but the most fundamental relationship between life, consciousness and the manifestations through which they find expression. Science without love is mere mechanical manipulation via a distorted, limited and destructive understanding of the grossest elements of life and living beings. Only a science imbued with love, and scientists practising their arts in its light can guide and encourage Nature to serve Man's ambitions willingly and in accord with life and natural processes.
MWS has become the diametrical opposite of this, and is now so ruthlessly committed to its present course that there is no possibility of changing it. This is surely a great tragedy: it has produced much of inestimable worth, has greatly improved the lot of Mankind via the marvellous technologies that have emerged from its application, but its refusal to acknowledge psychic and spiritual realities makes it a poisoned chalice that is destroying people, societies and the natural world.
MWS has become the diametrical opposite of this, and is now so ruthlessly committed to its present course that there is no possibility of changing it. A new scientific tradition is needed based on a cultural foundation that recognizes life and consciousness as real and fundamental. This new tradition can, however, take what is best from MWS as a starting-point, and correct its errors to forge a new direction and path to a far more promising future. Let us examine some obvious errors.