Thursday, June 02, 2005

Faith and Religious Practice: Quantum Consciousness

When we accept the presence of the sacred in our lives and begin to listen to the flow of spirit coming to us from a place unseen we are confronted with a profound choice. Will we choose to hear or will we shoulder past the ineffable and continue on our way, ignoring what our minds tell us is irrational?
No choice comes without risks. But what is risked is not necessarily apparent, either to the one confronted or to those watching the logic of choice work its way out into the material circumstances that will record the totality of our individual lives.
The verities of the religious experience may be very different than we have thought.
This goes to several questions. One of these touches on the nature of reality, which we are beginning to understand through the insights offered through quantum physics as very different that previously believed. It is not the finite, knowable world that we saw it to be at the beginning of the 20th century. Most human institutions still rest on the assumptions of that century if not on an even earlier century. The structures of human institutions, born from the ideas of generations past, function as repositories for the conservation of moral and institutional capital and are therefore falling edge indicators for coming change.
This takes us to the question of faith, not in the way we have traditionally understood this but in a new way that I characterize as quantum consciousness. According to quantum physics each part of the whole, no matter how far removed from all others, is actually in immediate and intimate contact. This means that the faith derived article of belief stating that all life connects is literally, physically true, the spiritual then being understood as an aspect of our nature heretofore seen as separate and problematical.
But if we are all cojoined, both with our own spiritual nature and with the material world that extends from that nature then this is not faith but intuitively derived truth. There have been indications for a long time that those arenas of human insight, including art and literature, actually function as predictors for oncoming waves of change in how we perceive the nature of reality.
Dr. Leonard Shlain's book, Art and Physics, Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light, notes the relationship between the underlying conceptualizations in edge art and their predictive function in physics.
What, then is intuition and how can we use it as a tool for human progress?
Is religious intuition a partially understood means through which we as humans may understand our own nature and progress towards some unseen horizon? This would seem to be the case. But as with all intuition this is subject to interpretation filtered through the veil of ideas each of us uses to construct the immediate nature of our everyday reality. Because we see through those filters of our own internal experiences we use iconic representations that provide a context for meaning. This in large part explains the difficulty in communicating between individuals coming from different perspectives. But only in part. We can also be mistaken about what specific iconic representations mean to others seen through cultural filters when we translate these into language.
Assumptions about what may seem obvious are a constant block to real communication.
We are spirits living in bodies that see the world through images, language and ideas that may vary widely in understanding. Our backgrounds, genders, cultures, level of spiritual development, education, age, and other factors moderate our 'beliefs.' Our beliefs create the reality with which we react and interact with others.
We are spirits in process of becoming. What we are becoming lies beyond the horizon of our ability to understand. But if we are connected in the way that intuition and quantum physics now indicates then the comfortable and artificial limits we have provided through human culture, practice and religion are as fragile as a curtain suffering long exposure to the sun. It is ready to tear and only our assumptions are holding it in place. Those assumptions are what created it in the first place, let's remember.
So what does this mean to us as individuals and as a people? It means that as individuals we need to confront the nature of the world in which we live and the nature of the world that lives in each of us. Today that need is greater because we are living in a time of transition. Every institution of humanity is showing the strain of long use that has worn it to shreds. Those institutions, forged from the ideas originating in the human mind, are failing because they are not modeling the coming change in consciousness that has been so long predicted.
Baldly stated, that change is from a hierarchal structure for human organization to a flatter, matrixed model for human relations. Equality expressed spiritually.
This is evident everywhere, even in the excesses of hierarchy reaching its logical conclusion as a form of resistance to change. In politics today it can be understood as the one predicted Rapture, that being in truth, the realization that all are one, Christians seeing this as a union in the spirit of Christ, others seeing it through the explanatory iconic representations of their own belief systems. Interestingly enough, nearly all human religious have predicted a transition in this period of time, another argument that the intuition driving these visions has predictive value.
As with all monumental transitions this one is tumultuous, impacting many in immediate ways.
The form and content of churches, giving place to the continuing human need to experience the sacred, are changing in unexpected ways that are leaving members of the older generations bewildered and isolated. The cognitive process to which the younger generations have been subject may well have changed them organically far more than we yet understand. The familiar structure of the human experience, firmly invested in a hierarchal world view is rapidly growing flatter through a series of punctuating events. This bald fact has been observable in business, with the downsizing of the Fortune 500 through the collapse of middle management with the advent of the desk top computer. This has been balanced by the almost hysterical desire of those in positions of power to hold on to the past by accumulating reservoirs of wealth.
The effect of quantum consciousness first appeared in venues for human action that were most easily modified by the forces of market choice. America, representing the optimization of freedom remained a mystic beacon for human hope even as the objective conditions that had made this true were diminished. Where choice is possible, in religion, in occupation, in relationships, choice has been exercised with growing frequency. We are seeing it last in government and other organizations that fail to allow for the modifying power of individuals voting with their feet and finances.
Quantum consciousness is the realization of human freedom, not in the political realm but in all parts of all venues for action.
Individuals from all parts of the world have accepted the idea that they should by inherent right be free. All of us are now trying to understand what freedom means practiced in the individual life. Our beliefs and the hope it generates may be changing the larger direction through the compiled force of quantum consciousness itself. Nothing is separate, as we are coming to see.
The body of human knowledge has increased exponentially. It is no longer possible for any one human being to know everything in even a subsection of one discipline when only ten generations ago it was possible for one individual to have working knowledge of the whole of human knowledge derived from Western Civilization. This rate of change has only shifted upwards with the interface created by the presence of the Internet and other means for the dissemination of memes that would previously have taken years instead of seconds or minutes to change the idea sets of individuals across divides of space and time.
So what does this say about how we should view religious practice?
With respect, with an open mind and with the view of understanding it as an overlooked tool for human understanding of the entire human experience.


Norlyn Dimmitt said...

Melinda, this is truly profound.

I blogged a bit (WordPress; norlynblog) about my first hospitalization, in 1980, when the perfect combination of Lithium and Thorazine induced a moment of nondual awareness that utterly and permanently changed my perspective, and on Easter Sunday, 1995, my life trajectory.

We are all one.

All violence stems from EGO, and the illusion of separateness.

Hence, violence is ignorance (as Socrates, Jesus, and Buddha all said in different ways). You cannot "love your enemies" if you do not grasp this -- if you persist in believing myths about forces of Good and Evil -- i.e., if you subscribe to the dualism that allows us to demonize the Other.

As social psychologists who study prejudice have known for decades (vithout invoking the sacred, which is frankly very sad), it is through dialogue with the Other, that the opening for personal transformation is widest.

That "collective wisdom" also arises from respectful dialogue across diversity, is an enormous bonus that can expedite the dismantling of deeply rooted systems of oppression, beginning with the patriarchy that banishes from power or consideration, the Ethic of Care that women disproportionately bring to the table. [E.g., Carol Gilligan's In A Different Voice.]

The banishing of spirituality from academia has had disastrous consequences. When I discovered Maslow's foundational work on transpersonal psychology (making scientific sense of mysticism), I was able to make sense of my own mystical experience.

After 16 years of studying Ken Wilber, I then discovered Jim Fishkin's Deliberative Polls, and the greatest political philosopher of the 20th century (Jurgen Habermas).

I conceived of a new theory of deliberative democracy, one that merged Carol Gilligan, Abraham Maslow (both developmental psychologists, in effect) with Jurgen Habermas' theory of Discursive Democracy.

In retrospect, it is not surprising that the Economics department at refused to allow me to pursue a dissertation topic that would upend Public Choice Theory (a libertarian theory grounded in Ayn Rand's Objectivism, Hayek's Austrian Economics, and game theory -- all of which are stripped bare of compassion, and of the necessity to politically leverage our compassion, given that it is otherwise so limited).

We cannot save civilization from meteoric temperature increases, if we do not sufficiently care about future generations. We cannot prevent 16,000 children under five from dying today, if we don't politically leverage our existing compassion.

As Dena Patrick says, "First we must care."

In the end, all of the enlarged sense of self that is embodied in Maslow's discussions on self actualization and transcendence is about caring (and compassion). "Transcendence", Maslow's term for religious experience, is usually left out of the textbook diagram of his heierarchy.

Which returns me to my claim that the Enlightenment Project, which banished spirituality, to pursue all truth via science, has been a tragedy. It separated secularists from "believers", and created an epistemological rift that made dialogue between Science and Religion all put impossible.

Ken Wilber's writings on this particular topic are of monumental significance, but they have a very small readership (in comparison to a population of 7+ billion people who divide themselves into believer, non-believer.

Norlyn Dimmitt said...

I believe that interfaith dialogue (interpath is perhaps a better term, to include people who claim "no faith") may well be the central catalyst for empowering dialogue-across-diversity (culturally, politically and economically).

Because it is one "caring ecosystem", we cannot really separate the cultural, political, economic, educational, and ecological.

But as Dena Patrick insists, there is an order to transformation.

Co-create a culture of compassion (Karen Armstrong's vision at, and a Caring Economics (Riane Eisler secular vision) and a Caring Democracy (Joan Tronto's secular) will follow.

What gets us to collectively care about the well being of strangers half way around the globe (or not yet born) is not something that science can ever fully explain. That so many who have had transformative religious experiences, afterwards have a permanently expanded "circle of care", is an empirical reality that needs to be addressed with much greater humility by social scientists (whether the transformation arose from NDEs, Timothy Leary inspired "moments of clarity"; or deep meditative states from years of practice).

I may not complete your blog today, at this rate, but I assuredly am looking forward to our conversation tomorrow.