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Science and Spirituality. The Potential of Human Consciousness.

February 20, 2013

The other day, I was drinking my tea in my friends garden and as tea is wont to do, had the thought. This, this is incredible, if you don’t think so, you should have been paying attention.

This life thing, breath, earth, its pretty damn cool, and pretty psychedelic, indeed, quite possibly the definition of the term. If you don’t get it, its time you took the red pill.

take the red pill...

Perhaps when we are born, someone should be waiting at reception with a sign,,, welcome to wonderland, youve been here a hell of a long time.

Forget the extravagant excesses of the new age movement, co-opting metaphors from theoretical physics, for fantasmagorical philosophies, In the most physical, down to earth, concrete sense, as the patterns of interconnectedness weaving together all apparent phenomenon, the universe, reality as we know and experience it, is fundamental unity, not just in the sense of fractal aesthetics, mathematical abstraction, or poetics, but in all the most simple, concrete, absolute sense. Foundational, fractal, operationally, essentially, one tapestry of shared destiny. All that exists, One. Bound as space and time, functionality arising from interdependence. Space and time, energy and matter, life.

No matter how compelling or useful it is to subscribe our lives to the concept of individuality, separateness, and while such concepts have their place as a partial observation of perceptual reality, a useful tool, the perception of subject/object  duality, does not accord with the foundations of our apparent would, the subatomic world,  a world science describes as in reality propensity and relationship. Although separateness is real at the scale of the apparent senses, our deeper understandings describes discrete objects, as (in a sense, (very real) optical illusion of subjective awareness, as events, not eternal elements, but effects, created by the behavior of essentially non-physical systems that metaphors based on observable phenomenon are poorly equipped to describe, nothing more, and nothing less.

Our body is a study in unity, an element in the planetary ecology, created by the stars and poised between heaven and earth the complex dance of  100+ trillion communicating cells, contingent on functioning together, bound by physics, chemical change, electromagnetism and life into the seat of human awareness, an unbelievably complex ecological system of human and non-“human” cells and critters, governed by the geometry and axioms of space and time, the miracle of interdependent life. Each cell in turn a complex dance of perhaps 100+ trillion atoms, geometrically relating,  and each atom in turn, infinite space, a complex sea of energy the age of the universe, behaving in the most wonderful ways, moving at the speed of light. This is the accurate assessment of any object of awareness, you are the universe, becoming aware.  This, is what you are, no joke, and is as relevant to your life as you can discover it to be.

In numerically comparative terms, we represent one expression of one level in a trans-magnitude system of galaxies. A galaxy of energy, within a galaxy of particles, within a galaxy of cells, within a galaxy of life, within a galaxy of planets and stars, within a galaxy of galaxies. The ultimate in intelligence, and I don’t mean our thinking.

Isolated by scale, bound by contingency and composition and destined by the geometry, the nature of space and time, to our shared journey, life. This gestalt? human individuality? Poetically, and literally, you are an expression of beginningless,  an expression of this universe, of this galaxy, of the living community of this planet, life itself, one with the planet, one with all life across time and space, one with all matter, one with all energy, the age of the universe, entangled across space and time, crystallized into patterns of great complexity, trans-magnitude leaps of coherence and interrelation between systems through the history of the universe and the lives of our ancestors to generate the illusion of a separate person inside an environment, over billions of years. A separate person, an environment, that is, in truth, unity, insanely complex patterns of energy like waves in an ocean, ripples on the surface of space and time. This is the nature of it, of these words, of this moment. Incredible.

The axioms of time and space that led inextricably to this moment, that created life on this planet, just as it is, and which bind it together, are one. A shared destiny and origin, one in kind, spirit and flavor. That is to say, all reality, the universe, (by definition) is one. One with our bodies, with consciousness, complex beyond description. For the planet is an intelligent super-organism, within which we function as cells, as elements governed by the geometry of atomic and celestial timing, the passage of light 150 million kilometers from our sun, symphony, melody and rhythm, planet and person one in destiny and origin, one in fact in concrete actuality, a living tapestry woven over the ages from the dust of galaxy formation, life, complex systems and self-replicating chains, strung together from the crystalline specks of indivisible radiance born as remnants of the hearts of stars. In ageless eons, our thoroughbred particle family marking each stellar generation, birth and death, by evolution in the crucible at the heart of each incomprehensible supernova, the birth and death of the stars.



This is reality, as it is, deeper and wider, sacred, incredible, profound,  mysterious, more than any story, any movie, any religion, any philosophy or any string of words could ever possibly grasp. Eternally, infinitely radiant, vast beyond comprehension, pure beyond belief, powerful beyond measure. Yet, all of which we dream, mere tip of the iceberg of the infinite, reminding us everywhere we look, that, as will all life, we will become what we dream and do, spirit and soul, it matters to us, and all we touch, that we dream and live well.

Truthfully, our lives, despite the pronoun, can only in the most mundane sense be said to be “our own”, although “individuals” by description and in some sense, experience, more accurately we are all an emergent epi-property of the whole, and belong to it. Biology shaping culture, and shaped by it, genetically, physically, consciously. Using brains said to have more connections between their cells than stars in the known universe, we now know that each and every cell in our body sings the same chemical language, peptides, molecules of awareness and of emotion mediating consciousness as an organism via ecology and electrodynamics. Following this deep language, this multidimensional responsiveness, science shows that life, conscious experience, programs and activates the atomic codes, proteins, cells and structural biology, of each and every person, emotion and awareness, sustaining living cultures, mediators of human awareness. The roots of developmental continua, longitudinally interdependent, self-reinforcing, psychological, social, cognitive, cultural, biological. One gestalt of stunning complexity.

All that we are, all of us, this expression of the universe, this personalized experience, experiential “individuality” and its subsequent “programming of the self” extracting and constructing identity from experience, whilst hypnotically compelling, arise literally from interdependence. It is not nature vs nurture, by the complex flows and eddies of a vast common-unity. We may believe consciously and subconsciously in the importance of our own individuality, but life is not like that, indeed life remains and only ever can be fundamentally a palimpsest, written upon synergies of networked and ordered dependencies, from the subatomic to the cosmic, the sociological to the ecological, the linguistic to the bodily, encompassing in one nexus, the tangible and intangible, a palimpsest located by the dynamic interrelationships of the fundamental structures and relationships in the most literal sense necessary for human consciousness. For evolving, conscious life, an epi-product, qualitatively distinct from the sum of the parts.

That is to say, despite our shared penchant for individualizing ego-absorption,  for these hypnotic illusory states engendered by perception and memory, if we honestly, truthfully, explore the ontological essence of the human conscious experience, via rigorously discriminating experiential introspection, we  discover no identifiably discrete essence, and rather, the sub-strata of our activity, the ineffable/inexpressible/unknowable/experiential quality, the “consciousness” of the mystics, traditional world religions and of traditional meditation practices, awareness as it is. In practical reality, the source and meaning of our experience, life, and programmer of character and actions, into biology and habit.

While conscious life, with its self-perpetuating and complex webs of delicately poised, finely tuned self-reinforcing longitudinal  relationships both inter and intra, can be subjected to empirical methods, conscious human life transcends mere atomism, and as per ranting, represents the exquisite complexity we observe, an irreducible systems phenomenon, incomprehensibly fine and of incredible beauty, a gestalt, emerging in coherence with innately self-organizing patterns of interconnection, structured by scale, complexity, space and time. A true, almost inherently pre-encoded flowering of the universe, and planet earth. Sounds new age, but get a grip. Its how it is, what you and I are, we are not capable of owning the earth, it owns us.

To discuss conscious life, goes far beyond the domain of the sciences, science has great power, but with consciousness we deal with our own existence, with life itself, with the human condition, the human journey the billions of us Homo sapiens walk and have walked before us, over many millions of years. This is far more than just intellect, its our spirituality, and the root of all myth, all story, all reasoning, of language itself, with what it is to be human. Understanding this, if we are to engage meaningfully with the idea of conscious life via our heritage, human cultures, like the sciences, we must pragmatically acknowledge our childlike place in the universe, and with respect discover the intelligence, wisdom and insights of our ancestors. From birth or conception, self-aware life is beset with the question, What is this? Why does it exist at all? What are we to do? All culture, religion, history, myth, story, art, are artifacts of this journey, the existential questions that will define our future.

Placed here by the past, literally we walk the shores of the infinite oceans of space, we live and breathe the living light of an almost incomprehensibly vast galaxy, child of a unknowably vast universe, product of the infinite and eternal. We are all this, and yet so much more, perhaps the most profound accident ever, if that’s how you see it, in a seemingly infinite and mysterious universe. In the words of Shakespeare; “And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Though limited beings, we are children of the infinite, to surrender our imagination, heart, intellect and lives to less, or to ignore our humanity, our heart, love and tears, our finite nature, belittles the fleeting life of the living, and the surety of our death.

Our zeitgeist collectively as a race, family, sees our dialogue of truth answering to the sciences, the method through which logic tells us, experimental inquiry may discern veracity. Incredible and immensely powerful, in reality a written history, world view and culture, recording and shaping the innately human adoptions of inquiry processes, genius, resources, time and effort, which, through sacrifices, inspiration, intuitions, devotion, passion, intelligence, the maturity, work and toil of countless human lives, offers to profoundly alter and refine our intellectual experience of the human condition, of all phenomenon, equipping us with the power to amplify our own ignorance and arrogance in drastic and often tragic ways, and leading us on an intellectual adventure, millennium long, towards discernment and new vistas of discovery. While knowledge without wisdom has become our curse, for wisdom, science has become the source of  much inspiration a blessing we must protect.

However, far more critically, Science does not provide that which is good, nor produce common sense. The good we do depends on values, character, intellect and wisdom. Science clarifies facts, not wisdom, and wisdom is not a matter of fact, but a matter of meaning. In some ways science; Reductive, empirical, analytical, quantitative, experimental, belies the innate holism and complexity that entail meaning, isolated facts alone do not provide meaning, meaning is the facility that awareness of greater wholes brings to facts, to phenomenon, to experience, it is the product of individuality, of the heart, and the understanding of complex systems.

As scientists today freely, heuristically, discuss,  understanding systems constructs meaning. It makes no sense to talk about our biology, without understanding the contextualizing macro-system, our family, the planet’s ecological system across all magnitudes, as a whole. It makes no sense to talk about biology, without understanding the contextualizing micro-system, the ecology and biology of the cell. It makes no sense to  talk about cells, ecology, or biology, without reference to chemical and in-turn atomic composition, without contextualizing the ideas of cells, ecology and biology, as nested nexus’ of inter-magnitude, and trans-magnitude forces and elements, demonstrations in material form of the axiomatic ordering and entropy that contextualize and generates the universe, life, and ultimately our lives. A mind that understands these inter-relationships, coupled with a healthy human heart connects conceptual maps of reality, with human lives, creating meaning.

The integration of understanding, with human values, that’s meaning, the compass for our decisions. Without heart, science means nothing to us, because while science does count, its life that really matters. For the whole, and for each of us.

Science is no substitute for a life lived; When you look at nature do you see and feel abstraction, or our family? How is the story we are telling ourselves shaping our experience of life, our civilization, families, and our heart? Are we dead to the natural world, or enchanted by its majesty and mystery? Does our race live in conscious common-unity? intelligently? wholeheartedly? Are we wise? What do you feel when you look up at the stars, our galaxy? What does psychology, literally; “the study of the human soul” mean to you? How do these stories serve to construct our experiences of the visible universe, earth the natural world, our galaxy, and all those beyond, let alone the invisible, the human mind and soul.

How do these stories effect our relationships with the universe? Are we a spiritually alive people? Do we cultivate a spiritually healthy civilization? How does our personal view of human nature, the human soul, enrich, uplift, inspire and nourish, purify us? How mature is it? Does our dialogue of the self lead us to the creation of a just and uplifting, meaningful civilization? Or thriving, healthy, pure, self-actualized and deeply fulfilled lives? How could things be better? and why aren’t they?

When we talk human consciousness, we are catapulted beyond our sentimental, aesthetic and personal lives, and into the study of the domain foundational to the human condition and experience, our perception of consciousness, the most fundamental characteristic of our experience. The story that we believe about consciousness, determines to a great extent the values and sensibilities we bring to making meaning in and of our spiritual, cultural, psychological and material lives. At the foundation of all we do, the way we spend our time, our civilization, our history, the human story, lie certain assumptions about the nature of human life and the universe, examined or unexamined, these assumptions and the inherent critiques of our civilization and our behaviors are the most powerful forces in our lives and that of all our societies. Our story of consciousness, our deepest identifiable nature, is one of them.

What meaning then can we find?

Despite the profound depth, complexity and ongoing growth of academic knowledge, fields like quantum and classical physics, chemistry, biology and the neurosciences, the leap from biology to consciousness remains opaque to science, not least for the difficulty of translating between subjective and objective domains. Whilst neuroscience has made radical advancements in the understanding of brain sciences, it’s yet unclear if consciousness is best explained by biological “epiphenomenalism”, or rather, a-priori, as an intrinsic virtue of reality as we know it, a physical property inherent in the universe.  The question seems rhetorical, but has linguistic significance. Either we assign a degree of a consciousness to all that exists, differing only in expression and degree, or we consider consciousness a meaningless optical illusion of biology, a happy mistake seized upon by biological evolution.

For me, it seems strange that an object as complex as the human brain could have come about by accident, unless consciousness, or rather awareness, can be said in principle, to exist in and exert an effect on “natural selection”, from extremely primitive forms up. If we say that consciousness is the activity that emerges from natural laws, like chemistry and electromagnetism, refined in the biological relationships that explore and exploit these axioms, in essence at some level, (quantum (plank scale) or atomic), from the geometry of space and time, then are we right to describe the universe as innately consciousness, by definition? Traditional spirituality, as inherited from the billions that went before us, suggest that this may be the case, inviting us to redefine our relationships with the world out there, as well as that “in here”.

Whilst its likely that, given time, we may discover the essential nature of consciousness, and of awareness, and while the journey is sure to inspire the growth of wisdom, awe, humanity and compassion in our collective views of life, the universe and our human family, we do well to remember the pragmatic significance of science to the ongoing formation of our character, our soul and conceptual universe. Within the realms of intellectual integrity, co-exists our humanity, our poetry, the optional and optimal lenses of our intellectual abstractions. We may live our fragile life and treat consciousness and the universe, as infinitely deep, sacred, profound, immanent, enchantment itself, or as abstraction, lacking significance.

In the words of Gordon Allport (1964) “By their own theories of human nature, psychologists have the power of elevating or degrading that same nature. Debasing assumptions debase human beings; generous assumptions exalt them.” likewise, the lyrical and metaphorical tools and attitudes of our science dialogues can serve our spiritual, intellectual and psychological evolution, or debase it. As (google told me) Albert Einstein said; “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  or in the (co-opted) words of C.S. Lewis; “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”


Yes science has descriptive and explanatory power, and speculation can fuel our imagination, yet no matter how we choose to perceive the universe, it is our human awareness, human self, our linguistic tools, cultural schema, and life experience, that provide the dimension of our personal meaning, and in turn our motivations, after all, why do we look at all?  How genuine, and wholehearted are we? Further, if the universe has an ontological purpose, a meaning to it, then it stands to reason that no matter how unknowable this purpose may be, that this moment, just as it is, is it. Nothing can be deeper than reality. In essence, no answers are “out there”, no truth can be found. The question is more, what is this? and can such a question even be usefully answered, without recourse to the known as inadequate metaphors for the unknowable? Perhaps, and we can try. That is the purpose of myth, the purpose of story, the implicit background, consciously chosen, or unconsciously programmed, in all we do.

Does it matter? Is it enough to glimpse dimly this profundity? Knowable/unknowable, meaningful/meaningless,…it is pragmatism and personal meaning that remain primary in understanding and living life, is not this gestalt, this humanity, inherently one and the same with this unknowable universe?  Pragmatically, existentially, it’s not science that matters despite its critical place in our global cultural and intellectual evolution, after all, would it benefit you to gain the whole world, but lose your soul? Science merely describes that which we are and experience, it represents truth, while we are the ones who live it, we are the phenomenon we hope to describe.

Lets have a look at it then, this human experience, with all its suffering and unique wonder. What does it mean? and what should it mean to us? If we look at the world around us, the macro context, the context of our human story, unblinking, what is it we see? and how should we respond? what role does science, intelligence, human history, have to play?

How do we respond?

We were born to so much, the darkest hells, and the deepest heights, places where stars are born, and the places the soul goes at night, compassion, love, art that moves the heart, mind and soul, and red flowers, red from soil wet still with human blood,  supplied by towers of human skulls, thousands high, and deeper, victims of kidnapping, torture, hatred, fear, slavery, mutilation, war, darkness. Within and without, heaven and hell are utterly real. A fact that’s hard to comprehend, and impossible to forget.

On this planet, your home, there are places sacred since before time, beautiful beyond belief, and places desecrated, desolate, radioactive, toxic, where nothing large will live, or thrive, for ages to come, tortured by suffering and loss. There are cities, housing the billions, built from tin, shit, piss, and mud, where the heaving masses of the poor are born, die and sleep. Where disease and starvation are the order of the day, and yet murder is the biggest cause of death for those under 12 years old. And there are cities of thought, edifices of language, built from mathematics and powered by the death of a planet, where half the developed world satisfy the addiction for distraction amongst the evanescent flickers of their computer’s screen refresh rate and the backlit neon of a power switch.

Outside our walls, there are deserts across half the planet, where once stood forests, rainforest, jungle and savannah, there are seas of plastics, where once there were oceans of fish, and there are the poisons, in all the land, in all the airs, and in all the waters. A flood of molecular discord, magnetized to living things, and of which (with inventories into the thousands) we each of us carry a half pound. Of what was once here, the tapestry of life, more is gone than we will ever understand, and from what remains, our cities grow.

This is not what we desire, and it matters, to us, two-thirds of my generation give to charity for this reason. Not only to assuage a conscience we value, but for the love in our hearts. For those of us awake, in some degree, hip to the situation.

What can we make of this? How can we learn to sleep? Of our collective memory of genocide, warfare, ecocide, soul-destroying and meaningless tragedies beyond comprehension. Damming indictments of our race. How do we relate with our collective dreams, prosperity, happiness, peace, our visions of paradise, our glimpses of salvation, heaven, beauty, love. Where do we fit in this picture? How do we take personally take the spurs of mortality? ecological Armageddon, with its waves of global extinctions? and of our love? of suffering? and of our death? How about our shared human destiny, taking our family, life, mind and body from us as it if was nothing, leveling all that lives as one, equal under the eternal winds.

The places we fit within this world is not to be found outside, but within as our nature, as what we are. Despite appearances to the contrary, we humans are inherently wise, intelligence itself, kind, compassionate, creative, brave, good. These are the things that make us human, define our lives, and make us divine. No small gifts, but the true heritage from our ancestors, from life, from our race, billions of years of evolution, lifetimes beyond count, cultural and genetic, heroism, life and death, condensed into the wonder that is our human heart, our spirit and our soul. This is what it is to be human, to actually live up to it, with heart, well that’s what it means to grow into a man, or woman.

Healthy growth brings health and fulfillment of an organism, like our mystics, science tells us that by following our biology and cultural ideals, and transcending the ancient quest, “what about me?”, to enter as in time,”what about you?”, we discover the ecstasy of self-transcendence, peace, love, joy, fundamental to our humanity; biologically, culturally and psychologically.  The realization we yearn to become. After all, mature or immature, the circuitry of love, of attachment, and of sexual attraction are deep, foundational, innate, significant in every life, and related to albeit culturally mediated, with and through, throughout.

Ultimately, our entire biology, culturally and practically, historically and today, invites and desires the attainment and integration of higher states of consciousness, the integrative principle embodied as love into human life, human culture. The quest to become a real man, a real woman, an awake soul. How large are our hearts? How pure are our spirits? What meaning do we bring to our lives? “No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” (Donne 1624)


Hiroshima Bell Tower

All of this, science, metaphor and poetry, while just words, concepts, remain potent, it’s what we know, beyond fact, its science, no debate needed. What’s needed, inescapably, is the maturity, the choice, to orient our heart, imagination and thoughts to the most meaningful understandings of the truths our race has discovered. The awakening of serious and mature compassion. The important questions, about life, death, science, genocide,  are not intellectual, but of our character, and the questions that actually matter are the ones we feel, not the ones we think. Scientific concepts may reflect truth, but do we feel it? Do we know ourselves to be a sea of energy, one with the universe, one with all we perceive? what do we feel? what do we see in the eye of our mind? Not what story does science have for us, but how does this story, our human story, effect me and my life. Do I come away from it enriched, touched, changed? inspired?  To what degree do we condone and live inanity? And to what degree do we condone and live meaning? How do our views of life effect the beauty of our life, and our relationships with ourselves, our family and the world.

Can intellectual, even poetic knowledge of truth, of existential reality, of science, of evil, of the universe, of life provide more that just technological potency, or academic masturbation? can it truly touch us, deepening our heart, quickening our soul?  Can sincere engagement, emotionally and intellectually, with the facts of life, the vision of science and our own character, give us emotional awakenings pursuant to the facts of life, science, mortality? Probably, maybe, maybe not, possibly much relies on our own sincerity, maturity and persistence. Either way, reality is as it is, our beliefs or lack of them change nothing, our sole choice as individuals remains how genuinely and intelligently we approach the truth, approach living, life and death. How much ignorance, denial, disinterest and apathy rule our heart, lives and death, or perhaps, how much wisdom and love.

This choice will shape our destiny, our brief human life. Our character, feelings and beliefs, can be pursuant to reality, or not, to which degree, and in turn, how directly and intelligently our lives, character, feelings and beliefs reflect meaning, reflect the wisdom, values and accurate knowledge we inherit from human history and living cultures really does matter. That is to say, it is our choice for our life, and in turn our society, culture, civilization can be based in meaning, or emptiness. Utopia, or dystopia, in our lives, yours and mine, it’s up to us. Are you interested in something else? You haven’t been paying attention, something hasn’t sunk in. You only get one chance, with no way of knowing how short it may be, this is it, and its that precious. Don’t get me wrong, in not saying become a fanatic, what I’m saying is choose life.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage… If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.” – The Dammapada.

Each choice, each thought, each feeling, each act, crime or kindness, each experience, inane or profound, once realized, shares our journey, life, forever, and many believe, beyond. We become what we live, these choices, our life, effects most deeply ourselves, and all those we love and meet, along with so many sentient beings we may never know. Life is spiritual reality, we construct our soul, carrying the past like a tattoo upon our heart, mind, body, life.  True spirituality, saint or sinner, our lives paint the portrait of Dorian Grey. Nothing is inconsequential. The true human, who spends life awake, not lost in addiction or idiocy, has the strength to choose right and dies free of regret, shaping the future with wisdom, insight, humanity, humility and love, knowing that at the door of death many realize too late,  addiction, not benefit, leads men to gain the world, but lose their soul, to follow the cultures of men, but neglect the truth. Normal is not necessarily natural, healthy or holy, and often morally sick and spiritually degrading.

What does our global family have to teach about our journey? What is our heritage of wisdom, the inheritance we are offered by our ancestors, our race. What has the sacrifice of billions bought us? Where is our compassion?

In my cultural heritage, western Juedo-Christianity, a heritage that has spanned the globe today, the greatest religious observations, in theory the greatest instructions for our race, are recorded thus;

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” -Luke 10: 25

 I don’t live thousands of years ago, and Jesus didn’t speak English, so lets substitute the words true-“reality” for god, and all “life” for neighbor(especially human life), so I hear, and lo, the profound radical nature of this invitation is revealed. An invitation echoed amongst all of the world’s great wisdom traditions, despite the historically antithetical relationship humanity have enjoyed with them. These are the words of our ancestors, and those that they deemed transcendentally wise. Paraphrased by my world view thus;
 Care with your whole heart about the only thing that matters, reality, and care for all life, as if it was yourself. In effect, Love with all your heart, mind, body and soul,, because this really is it, reality is as good as it gets, better if you look closely, and if we were sane and wise, and saw things clearly we would seek happiness, as it is, the mature, non-conceptual uninhibited releasing our chemical and electrical master cascade, the biological, biochemical and electromagnetic phenomenon known as love. Right here and now, within. Conscious or unconscious, beneath all the psychology and other things done, thought and felt, humanity seeks love, joy, bliss, the resonant radiance and bliss of a consciously opened heart. So focus and inform your thinking, motivations and efforts, so that your own bliss addicts you to the mystery, consciousness,  reality itself. Because there is something to find there, a relationship aliveness, and the eternal, and if we care about life, that is what we must seek. Otherwise, we make up one day to find a world with a god shaped hole in all our hearts, a civilization bereft of meaning.
How serious is this demand?  It is the critical element that lies at the heart of the traditions that have shaped the lives, societies and cultures of all humans on this planet. The records of man’s relationship with the sacred and with divinity, and with our internal and external insanity. In literal fact “its the great and first commandment, and the second one” for one major world faith, and you’d be hard pressed to find a religion that did not in principle and in relative terms agree. Today these traditions are dear to billions, well over half the population of our planet, so you could say it’s still pretty serious. Perhaps even in the existential sense? does a spiritual reality exist that transcends and informs in importance the human world? If so, what else could possibly matter one iota; “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” –Ecclesiates 1:2  All else, must by definition be vanity, lesser distraction.
In terms of human life, for our wisdom traditions, at the most literal level, all is vanity, all except the most direct relationships with the sacred world, the numinous, as the goal, path and fruit of human life.
This is the purpose for which religions are said to exist. And all of human life, all of our culture, our stuff, our jobs and world, is vain. Looking ever outwards for that which is only within.
But what does that even look like? What does it even mean? And how do we cross the line between belief and insight?
Human history is littered sparingly with many thousands of examples of those who have gone before us who are said to have demonstrated this direct realization of the sacred in their lives.
They are not considered great athletes, great scientists, great businessmen, or even great parents, they are instead considered great beings. By virtue of the uninhibited love and wisdom with which they lived their lives, and died.
Often it is from these lives that many of the pivotal positive and uplifting influences on human history have emerged, saints, mystics, prophets. Many spring to mind.
It is the assertion of those who have had these experiences, the indication from our sciences, and the consideration of this blog that these states, the flowering of human consciousness, are critical for the ongoing evolution of our spiritual lives and ultimately, our civilization.  I’m not saying go out and look for more, here and now, this is what we are describing, what I’m saying is that the qualities of our experience of reality define our relationship with the world, with our hearts, with the suffering of others, and are the depth to which life can satisfy us and guide our spiritual evolution. I’m saying that the story of consciousness that our civilization uses to define good and bad, life and death, prioritizing and assigning value to systems of reasoning, will always produce death, and meaninglessness, so long as it remains a story of the intellect alone, and not a living story.
If we take the biographies and autobiographies of these individuals and subject them to content analysis, unifying characteristics emerge that define the path of direct relationship, as opposed to the path of the mundane life.
Primary amongst these characteristics are the non-ordinary nature of the individual’s internal and external experience of life.
Whilst the external experiences, the miraculous, are perhaps the subject for another blog(rather than spiral this one) the internal are simple enough to understand in principle.
As anyone who has ever had a mystical experience or has taken mind altering substances knows, (i.e. most of us), there are classes of states of consciousness that are available to every human being that are non-ordinary, not mundane, and can profoundly impact and change those who experience them, these states of consciousness are associated with the direct relationship or experience, or realization of the super-mundane or reality as it is, which like with our sciences, is indicated by these testaments to be somewhat radically different to the every-day, deep within these potentialities, in the natural and unmodified we find the most extraordinary, the state colloquially said by many traditions to be the meaning of life. Super-consciousness, self-realization, awakening, god-realization, liberation, full consciousness, enlightenment, absorption. etc. etc. All else pales into irrelevance, dim reflection of the eternal, lost to time.
“things are not as they seem, nor are they otherwise” Dammapada
Life is a living participatory journey in consciousness, we are not the passive receptacles of human potential, but the active participants in its realization.
Mundane day-to-day human consciousness, endless distraction and the illusion of subject-object duality, has not and potentially can not bring about the world we desire, nor provide true satisfaction, purpose, meaning.
These states are to some extent well documented in the academic literature, as well as in the core and commentary literature of religious traditions, represented in tens of thousands of published scientific studies that document the efficacy of meditation practices for example. This literature is truly extraordinary, undeniably fascinating. I’ve blogged on meditation before, and wont revisit it here. Suffice to say;
“The father spoke one word for all eternity, and he spoke it in silence, and it is in silence that we hear it. “
-st john of the cross
Science says something very very interesting is going on, no faith needed, religions, the faith of billions, suggest that its time we learn to listen. Compassion and intelligence, the nature of your heart, beg us to begin, then continue.
The choice, for our lives and soul, is up to us.



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