Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ancient Scientists

It seems that since the first appearance of mankind, we have been wondering about everything around us.  Early man did not wait for the development of the scientific method to begin considering how the world was formed and what it all meant.  Although modern science has discovered much about the composition and function of our world and the universe that surrounds it, it is incapable of answering the lingering question, “Where did all of this stuff come from?”

Early efforts to figure everything out are grossly undervalued.  Every generation is on the cutting edge of knowledge and technology, but those accomplishments are built upon the discoveries and insights of previous generations.  Hindsight truly is 20/20, and from our vantage point, it is tempting to discount ancient concepts as primitive and ignorant.  However, we need to keep in mind that they were often forming their opinions with little or no preceding information.

Early man was doing exactly the same thing that scientists do today, observing, analyzing and making educated guesses.  To them it apparently seemed obvious that the world had been designed, thus implying the involvement of a master designer.  Consequently, much of the early “scientific” conclusions were coupled with theological explanations and overtones.  This is clearly seen in one of the earliest scientific fields, astronomy and its related component astrology.

It was this process that probably led to some of the early myths.  The story of Lot’s wife being turned to a pillar of salt was most likely an attempt to explain the existence of salt columns that surround the Dead Sea even today.  Anthropologists who study the origin of myths have traced many of the stories to locations where there are numerous prehistoric fossils.  For example, it is thought that the origin of the belief in the existence of the Cyclops probably resulted from the ancient discovery of the skull of an extinct dwarf elephant that once inhabited the European continent. 

The use of mythical explanations for material observations has generally led to a total dismissal of ancient scriptures as having any credible value for our current society.  However, what is truly amazing is the fact that some of the concepts developed by our ancestors were incredibly insightful and often relatively accurate.  The creation story contained in the book of Genesis conveys bits of information that closely parallel much of the current scientific theories of cosmology and evolution.  The heavens were formed before the earth.  In the early development of the earth, it is said to have been “without form and void,” an incredibly apt description.  Vegetation preceded animal forms, and when animals did appear, they were first created in the water and later on the land.  Certainly concurrent is the idea that mankind was the last and most complex creature to be formed.

Furthermore, Hindu and Buddhist traditions have taught that everything is one and that the duality that we perceive is an illusion.  We may debate the latter part of that statement, but beginning in the early 1900s the field of quantum physics has gradually proven the unity of all matter.  One of the prevalent unified field theories (string theory) postulates that minute strings of energy vibrate within a pervasive multidimensional energy field and form the subatomic particles that ultimately comprise the visible matter in our phenomenal world.  In other words, all is one.  How did those early yogis know that?  Their awareness came through deep meditation and insight.

Over the millennia we have seen a huge swing of the philosophical pendulum from a position of assigning a supernatural explanation to everything to the current scientific approach which totally excludes the involvement of any cosmic consciousness whatsoever.   It would be my hope that someday we might be able to take a more balanced and truly scientific approach in considering the possibility that there may be a pervasive creative force at work in the universe.  At present, it seems that modern science can offer very little regarding the deeper questions that still remain about the existence of God, the path to ideal human relations, or the purpose of mankind.  As we search for direction regarding these issues, the insights and admonitions presented in ancient scriptures deserve our respectful consideration because those who wrote them were not afraid to sit quietly and listen to “the still small voice.”

15

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things
.

12 comments:

  1. I am amazed at how we are all designed differently but we are designed to work together as one. We are connected to one another. We are all affected by change but so few are willing to admit the effects. It is our differences that makes us who we are. We can learn from one another only if we are willing to listen with all of our senses and agree we are no where near having all of the answers. I am now willing to listen, ask question, and learn.

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  2. You have reached a very special place. This attitude is where real learning can actually take place. Too often, what people spend time “learning” are ways to defend their preconceived ideas. When the door is locked to protect what lies inside, there is no way for new gifts to be delivered.

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  3. Is it possible there is a hidden reservoir containing all the truths of existence buried somewhere deep in our subconscious (or in that massive percentage of unused brain tissue, or somewhere in our DNA code, or maybe in the foundation of the the very energy that creates us) and this is why so many different sources often come up with such similar explanations defining reality? In the beginning was the Word.. the Word was with God and the Word was God. Is it really a Word at all? or just an innate understanding (or state of being), rarely if ever fully understood, that can only be barely conveyed to the masses through the use of inadequate verbiage, often wrought with exemplification, parable and metaphor to make an otherwise impossible point?

    Is it possible that the deeper we go towards full understanding that at some point we reach a state of peace with existence sustainable enough wherein the barriers (blinders) are finally freed to fade away and the struggle to understand thus ceases and enlightenment just falls upon us? or rather, rises up to the surface from where it has been all along?

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  4. Currently, my thinking is that our understanding of reality is increasing gradually, similar to the way in which we are progressively understanding the phenomenal world. The difficulty is that, at present, there is no way to objectively evaluate the validity of what is perceived. I think that is why it is so important to share our individual understandings in a mutually respectful way. Hopefully, we can collectively reach a mutual awakening. That will occur in varying degrees depending on the level of interest in that knowledge. But, perhaps as mankind progresses on this path, that desire will also progress.

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  5. Sounds similar to a popular belief right now that humanity is on the verge of a collective spiritual awakening. This would be wonderful, especially in light of the common idea that enlightenment comes only through extensive meditation, silence, and inner reflection, often not possible without an exaggerated level of extreme solitude.

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  6. ..more specifically, the idea I mentioned is in relation to the idea put forth in the Celestine Prophecy, the author of which who is a big proponent of certain interpretations of the 2012 prophecy by the Mayans that humanity will undergo a simultaneous spiritual upheaval. Not really the way things work, in my experience, but I do agree that mutual exchange is quite a catalyst for growth, and as I look around me, it seems more and more people are beginning to break out of their shells and entertain a more universal perspective on their personal spiritual perspectives. I wouldn't have noticed without dialogue.

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  7. I read the Celestine Prophecy a couple of years ago. It was an interesting novel, but I felt that it was primarily just fantasy, not a reflection of reality.

    Enlightenment received from deep meditation has proven to be extremely important, but we don’t all have to go there in order to share it anymore than we need to mine our own gold or diamonds in order to wear them. Furthermore, some apparently think that global enlightenment will occur through an apocalyptic event rather than a progressive awakening. This could be true, but the universe has been unfolding for about 14 billion years. So, I don’t personally think that God is in any rush.

    This week’s posting will begin to address this topic.

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  8. I like that.. God isn't in any rush. It certainly wouldn't seem so. In fact, it would seem to me that his patience knows no bounds.

    Though I agree that the Celestine Prophecy is fantasy, I also believe that no matter where we look, no matter where we turn, we are apt to discover some element of truth, whether it be explicitly stated, or hidden in metaphor. But we have to be expecting it on some level or another, generally, in order for it to be apparent.

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  9. I totally agree. The concept of “the force” in Star Wars and the psychic connections in Avatar are prime examples. My hesitancy about the Celestine Prophesy is the idea that someday humans will reach a level where we can transcend the material world. The concept of being energetically in tune with our surroundings is extremely probable.

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  10. have to agree. Star Wars is what opened my eyes. Have since moved on from it, but it fit the bill at the time.

    Perhaps the idea about transcending the (binds of the) material world in the Celestine Prophecy is a metaphor. This is a very common message in both Christianity and Buddhism.

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  11. Sure, as a metaphor it works.

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