Friday, July 7, 2017

DEEP CONSCIOUSNESS

   Until the early 20th century, almost all scientists saw the universe as a giant machine, evolving mindlessly through history.  They saw themselves (and all others) as standing outside the machine observing its movements and laws.  Galaxies, planets, mountains, plants, animals, and people operated according to laws that could be understood and expressed in terms of mathematics.

   Today, we see that their consciousness was shallow.  While their discoveries provided all kinds of technological wonders to the world, their shallow consciousness also helped turn the world's view away from what is not material, i.e., spiritual.  In Europe and North America, science began to openly replace religion in our ongoing search for who we are and what we mean.

   Thankfully, today's scientists are discovering not just the universe itself but the conscious, thinking people who are observing the universe and living in it.  This is leading them to study the spiritual dimension of the universe, in terms of consciousness.  And they are going deep:  they are paying attention not only to the consciousness of animals and humans but to the consciousness of the universe itself.   

   In the last century, Einstein said there is a super-human intelligence that is directing the universe and its evolution--a universal, cosmic intelligence, or conscious "mind" that is beyond all material consideration.  All good scientists, he said, should be moved to awe and wonder at contemplating this intelligent consciousness.  This is not God, he pointed out.  It is the intelligent consciousness of the universe itself.  The universe itself is conscious and intelligent!

   The great scientist opened the most promising way to the reconciliation of science and faith since the two had separated in the late 1600's, with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern science.  At the time, science went its own way, and religion went its own way.  Today, universal consciousness forms a link between religion, most especially Spirituality, and science, that is pregnant with galaxies of possibilities for the evolution of humanity.  It is a vital way toward developing a 21st century spirituality that is not "religious."

    To begin with, consciousness is a sign of life.  By its very nature, it is living consciousness.  There can be no such thing as dead consciousness.  Living consciousness, therefore, helps us understand where life came from.  Like consciousness itself, life was there at the very beginning of the universe, preparing to express itself.  
  
   Living consciousness is the basic energy of the universe.  It has guided evolution, calling it forward, from the very beginning of the universe.  So it seems reasonable to say that it had to be present even before evolution started.  It was present in the energy "dot" that first appeared 13.8 billion years ago.  Being immaterial, the "dot" had no space/time dimensions itself but expanded in a "Big Bang" to form space and time.

   Every galaxy, every star and planet, every mountain, ocean, plant, flower and human person and community, is a space/time expression of not-space/time, living conscious energy.  This is the awe and wonder of the deep consciousness that today's science is presenting to us, and that spiritual theologians are greeting with great joy and anticipation. Science and faith can now be reconciled at the point of deep, living consciousness.

   In the early 20th century, many scientists proudly proclaimed that there soon would be nothing new to learn about the universe.  Today's scientists humbly say that a full scientific understanding of the universe and of universal life and consciousness is out of their reach.  As one scientist said, "If you think you understand quantum physics, you don't understand it."  And now they are contemplating the possibility of an infinite number of universes!  The universe is truly ultimately beyond all human understanding. 

   Theologians say that the universe is Mystery, (capital "M").  Mystery is not ignorance, such as in a murder mystery.  It is reality that is so great that the more we understand of it, the more there will always be to understand, forever.  Both science and faith work with their own expression of Mystery/mystery.  What scientists say about the never ending understanding of the universe, theologians say about our never ending understanding of God.  What science sees as the energy that makes up and powers the universe, faith sees as Living Grace, the impact of God's presence in the universe, which makes the universe the living, Christ Reality.  (See, "A New Creation Story" in this Blog.)

   Today's all important reconciliation of faith and science requires a 21st century understanding of God.  God is no longer the fearful Old Testament judge who sends floods to punish us because of our sins.  Nor is God a deranged Father who sends his Son to be murdered.  Nor the medieval old man with the beard flying through the sky.  Nor the father who comes home from work and fixes things that the children broke.  Or should fix things but doesn't fix them.  "How can an almighty God permit war?  How can a loving God permit children to suffer?"  Questions like this show a spiritually immature understanding of God that a 21st Century Christian can no longer believe in.  Today's Jewish Biblical scholars will agree. 

   A 21st century understanding of God, taken from science, sees God in terms of living consciousness.  Spiritually, this same understanding came from an insight that is 3000 years old, when Moses learned the fantastic Truth given to him at the burning bush.  (Exod. 3:14).  "I am not some person who lives up in heaven.  I am all present.  I don't just exist; I am EXISTENCE ITSELF, REALITY ITSELF.  I am not just alive, I am LIFE ITSELF.  I am not just conscious, I am CONSCIOUSNESS ITSELF.  I don't just love, I am LOVE ITSELF." 

   "You exist because I am EXISTENCE. You are real because I am REALITY.  You are alive because I am LIFE.  You are conscious because I am CONSCIOUSNESS.  You love because I am LOVE.  When you search into yourself, into science, the arts, politics, business, education, health care, etc., etc., you are searching ultimately for Me.  I am there, waiting for you and helping you find yourself, and Me in yourself."

   This is the deep consciousness of our faith today, which science has helped us to reach.  Actually, science alone cannot account for the Mystery of existence and love in the universe.  The arts come closer.  Love comes even closer.  "The heart has reason that reason cannot know."  (Blaise Pascal)

    In today's angry, even hateful, polarized, shallow and noisy culture, deep consciousness is being sought for by an increasing number of people, especially the young.  But it can seem impossible to attain.  Today's science, politics, business, education and religion can be impediments to our search.  We must understand that deep consciousness is already present within us.  It must be attained because it holds the answers to the injustices and suffering we are inflicting upon ourselves.  We can attain it, for example, by taking some time daily to think about it and meditate on it.  (See, "Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation,: in this Blog.)  And we can attain it by acting here and now, in our own way, to help bring justice, peace and love, especially to the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast, as Jesus did on a daily basis.

   As we achieve deep consciousness we find the "still point of the turning world," (T. S. Eliot) i.e., the center of the world and ourselves, where God touches us silently and deeply.  From here we move outward in love with every greater love, truth and simplicity.  We love without conditions or ambiguity.  A dear friend of mine has a bumper sticker on his car that says, "Live simply so that others may simply live."  Simplicity is clear, clean truth and love.  It is a wonderful fruit of deep consciousness.     
      

  

       

    














 





   



























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