We live in a time of profound global trends: climate destabilization, peak oil, water shortages, dying oceans, over-population and poverty, food shortages, pollution, weapons of mass destruction, etc. These trends are interactive, and combined represent an unparalleled systems crisis.
Never have we faced global challenges such as are upon us. So far our response has been applying more science and engineering. Peter Russell and Duane Elgin speak about the world in transition and explore some of the bigger questions about what is happening and our role in it all. They acknowledge that we are simply overwhelmed to the extent of just avoiding the issues. These two men make intelligent inroads into the nature of both the problems and of our denial and discuss how individuals can begin to come to terms with the future.
Peter and Duane emphasize that the real crisis is one of the human psyche. In one way or another human activity is at the root of this crisis, yet we stubbornly ignore the human part of the equation. The deeper part of the problem is within ourselves: greed, selfishness and apathy. And for that we need a spiritual and cultural transformation.
At this point our best strategy for planetary and social healing is probably to become better human beings. That means finding ways to become more conscious and caring. Also it is time to end the conflict between science and spirituality, which only served the purpose of religious fundamentalists and science fundamentalists to the detriment of everyone else; too many rules and too little forgiveness. This is the traditional dualistic subjective/objective mindset found in the West, and is parallel to the supposed separation of mind and body.
In most of the ancient or primitive cultures there has been a common thread of reverence for nature; the transition of the seasons, the moon and stars, for the larger cycles of nature, including our own coming into being and passing away. Even though we have learned much about the marvelous intricacies of nature, we have only scratched the surface. What we don’t know probably surpasses by far what we understand. We are a mystery and we live in a mystery, and we know it – some of us. To have a sense of awe and wonderment, and reverence is a gift. The ultimate mysteries may be not even be knowable by humans, and our lives as humans could be only a small part of who we really are.
Day follows night, and spring follows winter and the unfolding of life is a cycle. These are reassuringly orderly processes. Atomistic mysticism describes a way of thinking or a kind of a posture in life that includes a deep respect the intrinsic processes of both nature and science. Recently astronomers have learned that in just our own galaxy there are probably 100 million habitable planets. Cosmology is revealing that we live in a universe that naturally evolves stars, galaxies, and planets with mountains, oceans, and even life, which may not be limited to just one planet
We have become so used to the mechanistic view of the world that originated with Descartes that we have forgotten that it is a metaphor. We no longer think, as Descartes did, that the world is like a clock. We think it is a clock, and that nothing is real unless it can be weighed or measured. The physical world is defined by its limitations. Everything is composed of the same material, but differences in configuration, finite dimensions and measurable attributes are what distinguish one thing from another.
On the other hand, the believers in the Gaia hypothesis think the world is one huge organism that regulates itself to some good end. The Spiritual world is said to be nonphysical in nature, and exists independently from matter. The Spiritual world is also said to be infinite and not subject to the constraints of linear time, death, or decay.
Our senses interpret everything around us and translate it through specific vibrations. Our experience of the world is limited by what our physical senses can interpret. Science has come to understand that both atoms and thoughts are energy. Water may be in the shape of ice, liquid, or clouds, energy comes in various forms such as waves, particles, liquid, solid, or gas, light, sound, even brainwaves. The science of Quantum Physics seeks to answer the question "what is energy?" and arrives at one of the most basic facts of the Universe, that "everything is energy". And apparently energy cannot be created or destroyed. Once you really understand that everything is energy, then you understand that there is no such thing as separation. Physics has come full circle back to metaphysics.
So if everything consists of waves of energy at its fundamental level, then this same source of energy must flow around, within and through us. The fact that this energy is all matter, space, time and biological life, which to some suggests that it also has an underlying intelligence. One interpretation of quantum mechanics suggests that matter actually came from intelligence. So it makes sense for people to refer to it as a universal mind or collective field of consciousness. The zero point energy field may be the most compelling news of our time.
The harmonics of energy vibrations are synonymous with our perceived categories of reality There is a vibration continuum as particles vibrate at increasing speeds and take on a more subtle, less dense form. The range may continue beyond what we have even imagined. Our five senses allow us to perceive on a physical level only a narrow spectrum of vibrations and we have devices to extend those perceptions a bit, however beyond that is mystery.
Our own bodies are electro-chemical batteries operating electro-mechanical structures. There in enough energy in the form of information within living cells for them to reproduce themselves and to actually create a new human being from a few cells. And within that being is all the information needed to be whole and complete and healthy. Learning to trust and work with these organic processes is a core message of the wisdom traditions, ancient and modern.
A thermostat illustrates an analog computer in that it is either off or on. Higher brain functions resemble a digital computer by assigning intellectual values to perceptional data, and working out a logical, rational procedure. But that takes time and effort. Most of the time an immediate decision is required: approach or avoid, like or dislike, accept or reject, do or don’t. And our fast-paced industrialized world requires ever more split-second choices. When driving 60 miles per hour, your body moves 88 feet per second. Rationalizations are often simply not an option.
Intuition is perhaps our most valuable asset. Even Einstein said that choosing what you will pay attention to is what counts. Fear motivates and keeps us alert, but paying too much attention to fear leads to a tragic downward spiral. Positive thoughts engender an upward spiral toward happiness, but can also lead to fuzzy or wishful thinking. Balancing the two is essential, but it is a skill to be honed. Intuition gathers information even from non-local sources and helps us make better choices.The more you use it, the more dependable it becomes, like any other skill. At any moment any cell can be either in the growth mode or the protection mode. The protection mode consumes the very nutrients normally used for growth and maintenance of the cells.
We are hard wired to avoid danger. Conditioned reflexes operate both at the physical and psychological levels. If you put your hand on something hot, your brain sends a signal to move the hand before you even know there is a problem. This is commonly called a “gut” reaction.
Each of us made to feel we are “not good enough” on some level. The worst atrocities stem from a separation of the human psyche into a good and a worthless portion: “they are wrong, we are right.” Even the most seemingly caring parents often inflict extreme morality on a helpless child. Without rules there is anarchy but historically, piety can be very dangerous. War is usually about piety. Principles differ from rules by trusting the individual to do the right thing. While shame and guilt are tyrannical weapons used by society to keep us in line.
The way to go from protection into growth is through the heart. Fear, hate and indifference will drag you down, cut you in half and make you a slave to a system or an “ism.” Caring, gratitude, and forgiveness will put you on an upward spiral. It isn’t rocket science; just treat others the way you want to be treated.
Either you care or you don’t, so what's it to be? Making a commitment to be more spiritual begins with being more compassionate and caring, being willing to look at things differently, learning to trust the deep wisdom within. Recognize fear, unkindness and hate and choose something better. Start to see yourself as a kinder, gentler person and your experiences will reflect that.
In the Sanskrit doctrine of Tat tvam asi -- in his words, "Thou art that, which asserts that everything you think you are (Subjective), and everything you think you perceive (Objective), are undivided. To fully realize this lack of division is to become enlightened."
Pete and Duane’s Window is a program that explores our world in transition including topics such as consciousness, world trends, sustainability, spirituality, and our collective future. The show’s hosts, Peter Russell and Duane Elgin, are internationally recognized visionaries who have known one another for decades, and share an interest in awakening consciousness, both personal and global. As “evolutionary elders,” they see this time as pivotal for our species and offer a view of the world’s dynamics and trends, the potential for conscious evolution, and the opportunity to live sustainably and compassionately.