Thursday, July 24, 2014

Consciousness, the World and Mythological Thought

Consciousness and the outer world are inextricably tied to one another. How we treat the world is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. If we see the world as essentially soulless, as lifeless matter to be used without consideration, then that is also how we treat ourselves and each other: as units of economic productivity, to be tossed aside once we are of no use.

I suppose I’d trace it back to Science, with its tendency towards materialism; to Protestantism and its work ethic – good units of economic productivity go to heaven; and to the Old Testament God, who enjoined mankind to rule over all the animals.

So the environmental crisis is really an inner crisis. The environment is suffering because people are suffering; we have become split off from our natural relationship to the world, with its respect and its give and take, and split off therefore from a natural relationship to ourselves.

And I think this broken relationship is also reflected in the scientific view of the macrocosm, a place that is 99.99% chilly and lifeless, and whose destiny is to become increasingly that way, the eventual ‘Heat Death’ of the universe. Give me Armageddon any day!

I don’t see science as the objective art it claims to be, i.e. that it is simply discovering what is ‘out there’. It can easily seem like that if you’re not very reflective. The world so impresses us with its hard, separate reality that it can be hard to experience it as intermingled with, and conditioned by, consciousness. Quantum physics has known this truth for over 100 years, that you can’t separate the observer from the experiment. But it is subtle.

Eurynome Creates the World
So I don’t see the largely lifeless scientific universe and its eventual Heat Death as objective. It is an idea that reflects our broken consciousness, and we have found the evidence to support the idea, something that humans seem to be very good at! I think it takes a balanced human being to be ‘objective’, to see the universe in a way that reflects its real nature, which is one of aliveness: and there are many ways to do this, many Creation Myths, which are true to the extent that they reflect a living universe in which people have a balanced place (i.e. not ruling the animals!)

The Hunt for Dark Energy
From this perspective, the hunt for ‘Dark Energy’ seems to me quixotic. We may or may not find the stuff. But to say that 99% of the universe is missing and undetectable, that it can only be inferred, is also a way of saying that the universe we have in a sense created is woefully narrow.

We need to think mythologically, because that allows room for the part consciousness plays in generating views of the universe. Science is a myth, a story, that does not recognise itself as such. Its mythological nature is repressed, and when you repress something it comes back at you in demonic form: a chilly, lifeless universe that is 99% beyond our ken.

Truth lies more with the intuition, with direct experience, than it does with the intellect, which needs to have a supportive rather than a commanding role. I see an idea as true if it is imaginatively appealing, if it ‘rings true' in my experience, more than whether I can find hard evidence to support it. That way my experience of myself and my view of the world are not at odds.