This is the final part of an essay about humankind’s next big evolutionary leap, which will be directed inward: towards the non-physical aspects of our existence. In part one I discussed some of the contemporary findings that begin to bridge the gap between science and spirituality.
What is real and true has of course always been real and true. The new revelations and insights about the nature of existence that I described in the first part of this essay are not actually new, needless to say. Very much on the contrary. But in earlier eras they were mediated in artistic, poetic and dreamlike ways, ways we later called religious and after the Enlightenment dismissed as fairy tales. The fact of the matter is that this knowledge was gradually being suppressed already when the earliest forms of what we call civilization emerged. Eventually, brutally so. In Western culture this has most saliently been done through the decrees of the church. The gnostics, the Cathars and other groups who did what they could to salvage the knowledge about our inner essence, our immortality and our connection with the universe, were persecuted, tortured and killed.
It is well known but surprisingly downplayed within Christianity that many of the oldest Christian texts were destroyed and that the Bible was hard edited. Some documents were hidden away and were discovered almost 2 000 years later in the vicinity of the Dead Sea and in Nag Hammadi in Egypt. During dogmatic meetings between 325 and 787 CE, the Church Fathers (thus not God, nor Jesus) decided in detail what the relation between Heaven and Earth looked like and what Christian faith henceforth should entail. Think about it: any link to true spirituality, meaning inner knowledge (or gnosis) about what a human being is and is a part of, was cut off to be replaced by doctrines established by men from the area of the Mediterranean.
The latest and perhaps most efficient breach with the ancient mystical tradition came with modern science. Giordano Bruno was sentenced to death by the Catholic inquisition in 1600 for having realized that the earth orbits the sun, and 33 years later Galileo was house arrested for spreading the same information, which only confirmed what Copernicus and Kepler had understood a century earlier (and the Greeks almost 2 000 years earlier and other cultures possibly even further back in time).
Disgraceful judgements like these probably contributed to triggering the scientific revolution. But what happened wasn’t simply that rational scientists distanced themselves from an irrational church, as it is commonly depicted. All of the aforementioned scientific trailblazers were devout Christians. No, the unfortunate dichotomy that ensued was just as much due to the fact that the Church worried that the ever more advanced scientific findings would challenge Christian dogma (not unlike the way mainstream science today suppresses scientists who challenge the doctrines of our day and age). The Church wanted a monopoly on spiritual matters, and science was to stay away from that realm. The Inquisition made sure to enforce this order of things. No wonder representatives of natural science carefully stayed in the material world.
The Church wanted a monopoly on spiritual matters, and science was to stay away from that realm
And what about the spiritual realm of the church? Well, it didn’t get more spiritual than the dogma stipulated. One of the most read verses in the New Testament is John 3:16, sometimes called ”the Gospel in a nutshell” since it is so pivotal for the Christian faith. ”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” To me, something in this tenet of faith has always sounded false. During a funeral some years ago I suddenly realized why: What a wide awake Jesus tried to convey to inert fellow humans two thousand years ago was arguably that those who realize that what he says is true also realize that we all have eternal life. Of course no one needs to ”believe in” any prophet to achieve this insight.
The knowledge that every human being is a spark of the universal consciousness has never been entirely forgotten, not even in materialist dominated Europe. I must admit that it is Europe I focus on here. Those with a broader lore would be able to delve into Kabbala, Sufism, Manichaeism, Eastern mysticism and traditions of numerous indigenous peoples all over the world. There have always been groups who have carried on the message from shamans and mystics. They have come in waves, as mythology researcher Betty Kovacs writes. After the earlier mentioned Gnostics and Cathars — which were contemporary with several other groups that were persecuted vigorously as heretics by the Church, like the Bogomils and the Waldensians — the knowledge was protected by, among others, French cathedral builders during the high middle ages, the Rosicrucians, the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg and romantic and mystical movements in the 1800s.
However, it was not until the advent of quantum physics a hundred years ago that these insights began to be explained in a way that could not immediately be belittled and rejected by the modern world. In actuality, it took an additional handful of decades before the vastness of what Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli, Henry Stapp, David Bohm and others had discovered started to dawn on the scientific and philosophic communities. Only today it is becoming obvious to what extent quantum physics shakes our view of the world. The key is that the universe cannot be explained without inserting consciousness into the equation.
Albert Einstein was never at ease with the quantum notion that we can affect the world around us regardless of distance. He called it ”spooky action at a distance”. But the physicist John Wheeler, who was born 32 years after Einstein, developed the idea that the universe is a gigantic feedback loop which cannot exist without us. According to Wheeler, we live in a participatory universe which is constantly being built up with the help of consciousness. Every time scientists discover new, even smaller particles it is consciousness that has placed something there for us to see. We continuously add new information ourselves: the deeper we look into the universe, the more consciousness puts out there. The act of looking with the expectation that we will find something is in itself an act of creation.
The deeper we look into the universe, the more consciousness puts out there
It is sometimes said that quantum physics is overused by the new age movement and other spiritually inclined people to give legitimacy to a woo-woo world view. As always, misunderstandings and false interpretations abound. But there is certainly no doubt that the discovery of quantum physics is one of the big leaps that, at long last, make it possible for us to understand what shamans and mystics have talked about since ancient times.
The second big reason we are on the threshold of an existential expansion is something I discussed at the beginning of the first part of this essay: global integration. Humankind has reached a point in its evolution which is unique and irreversible. We now know in real time what is happening on the other side of the planet, and we know everything about people everywhere. Yes, that is an exaggeration, but I think the reader understands that it is a matter of difference in degree only. It is not particularly difficult to get in contact with practically any human being on earth and obtain detailed knowledge about her life. This has never happened before in human history. It entails that the illusion of separation is more illusory than ever. Demands for stricter border controls and more national introspection are death-throes, echoes from an era that is already over, but which the most fearful among us desperately try to preserve.
As we gain ever deeper knowledge about what we are, we will probably also (finally) gain more clarity as to where we come from. Our knowledge gap in this area is pretty shocking considering how much else we understand fairly well. This gap, too, is largely due to a more or less conscious suppression of ancient knowledge in the form of legends, myths and stories. The old texts and inscriptions that remain or have been rediscovered in more recent times have not been taken seriously. But there are maverick researchers out there who study these texts with fresh eyes; as if they tell us what actually happened. And, honestly, why would these earlier humans spend enormous resources and thousands of hours century after century on writing fairy tales? The conclusions that can be drawn from such an approach topples the history curriculum of our schools. This is a topic worthy of its own essays, however.
Many are reluctant to use the word love in other contexts than the personal. But to really bridge the gap between science and spirituality we have to realize that the one constructive force behind the entire conscious, dynamic and polarized universe we inhabit is love, and fear is its destructive counterpart. There are quantum physicists who dare to be open about this. Feel free to check out David Bohms beautiful conversations with Krishnamurti. Science is also love.
Our materialist worldview is so deeply ingrained that most people cannot even envision that reality actually looks quite different. A tiger born in a zoo does not know that nature is its true element. But one day it discovers a hole in the fence.
The day it becomes generally accepted knowledge that we are all parts of a universal consciousness and that consciousness affects matter, which means that we are the co-creators of life and that the essence of a human being cannot die, everything changes. There is not a single area of human life and society that will not be impacted, although the transformation will likely be gradual. In the long run the consequences are virtually impossible to overview.
- When we no longer are driven by fear of death but are motivated by love for life we will look back in astonishment on generation after generation of perceived suffering.
- Health care will be remodeled from the ground up when medical science counts on a self-healing ability in every patient.
- Who would even dream of engaging in armed conflict and hurt others when they know that they would then in actuality be hurting themselves?
- Every textbook used in our schools will have to be rewritten, and probably all collective teaching will have to be overhauled.
- When we realize that creating, giving and receiving are motions in a never ending energy dance, fewer and fewer see any point in sitting on physical wealth. The money-based economy will gradually seem archaic and eventually lose its purpose.
- Nation-state borders will be unveiled as the strange, randomly established barriers straight through a united humanity that they have always been, which renders all traditional diplomacy obsolete.
- To let oneself be controlled by authority figures, that is people who have been handed authority by virtue of office or position (democratically elected or not) will feel foreign. On the contrary, inspirers and excellent administrators will be embraced.
- Traditional, dogmatic religions will appear ever as oddly superficial as money and nations and will fade away.
- And naturally, science will experience a formidable new revolution, this time in tandem with what has been called the metaphysical, and everything will be looked at in one all-encompassing context.
How we would be able to crawl even an inch forward with merely more of the same?
The objections to everything I have said in this text are obvious: ”These are just free fantasies, it is magical thinking, we have to be realistic.” Such assessments are in fact mirroring exactly the worldview I claim we are about to leave behind. As for ”magical”: What is not magical about fifty trillion self-regulating cells in your body — each one a little universe — performing billions of chemical reactions a second, replicating and replacing themselves in the tens of millions every minute to keep your physical life running, without you having the faintest idea of what is going on? As for ”realistic”: Yes, we need to see the whole reality. We need to wake up, take off our thick physicalist blinders and discover the implicate order, to use David Bohm’s term. That is realism.
Thus, objections like the above do not resonate, which probably annoys the materialists.
Tell me how we would be able to crawl even an inch forward with merely more of the same? Are we to rely on a few additional, slightly better laws? A few more regulations, perhaps, a few more deals between unchanging nations, a little freer trade, or maybe a little less free trade? Is this what will make people feel better — people who by the way basically are quantifiable units just as goods, money, companies and nations (but only everybody else, never yourself or your loved ones). Is this what your heart tells you to embrace? Is this how we evolve? Is this how we will be able to wander together towards a brighter and happier era?
If the answer is yes you basically say that our species has never evolved. We are far away from the view of humans and society that we had, say, five hundred years ago. Therefore we ought to realize that we will be far away from today’s view five hundred years from now — and most probably long before then, because everything spins faster in an integrated world.
We will make magnificent new discoveries in the coming decades and centuries. We will gain wondrous insights and experience spectacular change. We will look upon ourselves with completely new eyes. We will liberate ourselves from the chains of self-inflicted suffering. It will be a different world. And it will not be a century too early.
All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident
Rationality is simply mysticism misunderstood
You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Morpheus in ”The Matrix”