Friday, March 27, 2009
Science and Religion – CREDO LXVIII
First, study the obvious, the physical nature of things. The second step is to study the interiority of things, to go inward. The third step is to study the relationship between the two. By drawing on the first three steps, you can come close to knowing the deepest secrets of the universe.
– His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
When I was ten years old in a Swiss boarding school, a friend and I managed to lie out in a field before bedtime. It was a clear night and we looked up at the stars and asked each other what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told her solemnly it was to reunite science and religion, and I was looking up at the stars! It was a prophetic moment; my mother told me I started on a book titled The World as it is and the World as it ought to be! The first sentence apparently was, “A fish has no neck nor any voice at all....” I guess I got sidetracked.
Later, in 1944, when I was twenty-one and first met my Teacher M in New York, I went back to the hotel on Washington Square. I woke up at midnight with a strange urgency to write. I found myself drawing two facing hemispheres, barely separated, and labeling them Hemi and Demi. Above them an arc embracing both to the middle of both sides, labeled Super omnium. The writing explained that the Demi represented the visible world and the Hemi, the inherent invisible meaning of it. The arc hinted at the resulting insight of joining them into a complete circle! And if you drew a horizontal line joining the two points of the arc, it made another hemisphere to which you could add its counterpart and on and on. I had no conscious understanding of what I was writing at that moment! When I asked M about it, he just looked pleased as punch and said, “Keep it up!” Much of that and what came further is to be found in my book The Web in the Sea, p. 64.
Now, seventy-six years later, I realize that this has been my life’s work: Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace!
I have already written that religion and science, faith and reason, were opposite factors (as they have continued to be!) until the Age of Reason, when science repudiated religion at the time of Descartes. When this happened, religion lost its proof and science its sense of the sacred. This sums up one of the agonizing dichotomies of the entire departing Age of Pisces, now perhaps being healed by the theoretical physics of the coming Age.
Lately, Jung’s idea of hanging on consciously to the opposites and allowing the Transcendent Function, the healing third, suggested a triangle with science and religion as opposite points on the baseline and the resolution at the apex. That suggests a vertical motion! This resulted for me in an attack of insight. Bear with me.
Science legitimately limits itself to three basic steps:
As the professor Ravi Ravindra remarked. The greatest discovery of modern science is the discovery of its own limitations.”
I have tried to summarize it below:
Abstract / metaphysical
Step 3: Repeating & sharing
Step 2: Experimenting
Step 1: Observation
When we find the same archetypal processes at work in both science and religion, the result is spiritual insight! We begin to understand the unus mundus and find science and religion united by the symbolic experience of those archetypal processes (verbs!). Remember sym-bolos = putting together! This is how we achieve the coincidentia oppositorum that Jung proposed, in a nutshell, and here very oversimplified!!
The Sufis speak of the theophany of the Absolute in the relative, a more concise summary of what St. Paul also hinted at in I Cor. 2:11: For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him/... which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom [science?] teaches, but which the Holy Ghost [Hagia Sophia] teaches....
What occurs to me is that what unites the below and the above is the little word meaning. To make it absolutely simple, let’s take an egg for an analogy.
Step 3: outcome repeatable, can be eaten safely by humans. Yummy!
Step 2: can be boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, etc .
Step 1: Oval object, comes from a bird.
The meta (beyond) physical or spiritual aspects of the egg are so numerous, they take up a whole page in a book on universal mythology! The universe itself is said to come from a World Egg in many cultures. For me the outer shell conceals endless potentiality. In religion, a sacrament is described as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” Grace can be further interpreted as spiritual meaning. So I am back to my belief that the Sacred is hidden in the Commonplace, or the outer shell of an egg conceals literally limitless life and symbolically a universe of meaning for all humanity, hatching out in time and space!
This can shed light on the Easter egg, which is honored on the Sunday following the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox and the sun’s entrance again into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, all of which invites the constellations of heaven to participate though hidden (!) in the grass and the game of trying to find one. Part of playful (Holy Wisdom) Hagia Sophia’s fun.
This is just a fraction of what science could lead us to if it included the clues to Spirit hidden in matter.
As Agrippa, the alchemist, put it: Virtutes divinae in res diffusae: divine powers are diffused in things. Look for Part II in my next CREDO! I hope to further demonstrate how this can be proven. There is a lot to ponder in this one, so reread as the alchemists advised: Lege, lege, lege et invenia – read, read, read and discover!
Posted by IonaDove