As a person with two dogs to walk and a lawn to mow from time to time, I do not have great insights about spirituality or science. But that is not to say that these concepts do not intrigue me. We are enjoined by the human condition, not to mention the condition of our planet, to not walk around with a benighted mind, as it so easily might be by either ideology, religion or some fantasy construct, but rather to engage and perceive with understanding and knowledge the world around us. It seems to me that spirituality and the science of the natural world are interconnected in a deep way.
Spirituality I am taking a sense of interconnectedness, so I can leave God out of the picture. I have no idea whether people are interconnected but I am sure that we are interconnected with the living systems of the planet. (Now if the second proposition is true, does it mean the first proposition was true too?) The idea that we are interdependent and interrelated to the living systems of the planet is self evident, and the essential science is part of general understanding. It is possible that using metaphors and a poetic sense, may well embellish our understanding. Plato as I recall somewhere, in some context used the sun as a metaphor. It is clear that the nuclear furnace of the sun creates the light and heat that drives and interconnects the living systems of the planet, beginning with the atmosphere and the water cycle. The study of light, including the experiments of Newton, the Michelson-Morley experiments on its speed, Einsteins theories, quantum mechanics and the behavior of photos, has a succession of surprises and puzzles that have continually shaken our assumptions of how we see the world.
In adopting a view of deep interconnectedness, I am not denying the importance of reason, the historical source of the antagonism to religion. One notices that reason and religion jointly contributed to the dispossession of the Aboriginal peoples on this continent, people like the European pagan forebears were closely attuned to the natural world. At the time of Charlemagne, for example, with his proto-crusade on the Spanish March and conversion by the sword of the pagan Saxons, including the desecration of the Irminsul, the sacred tree trunk, was an alliance of religion, state power and violence, even if religion had effectively been cast in the role of ministry of prayer and education. Education might seem a contradiction in the Dark Ages, but then some rulers were enlightened. Alcuin wrote:
My master often used to say to me: “it was the wisest of men who discovered these arts concerning the nature of things, and it would be a disgrace to let them perish in our day”. But many are now so pusillanimous as not to care about knowing the reasons for things which the Creator has established in nature.
The possibility exists that reason and interconnectedness could co-exist but understanding is never uncoupled from cultural conditioning which is the pre-condition for the exercise of political power, historically founded on violence to humans and to nature.
So the notion of eco-spirituality makes some sense. I suggest it goes to essence of our human nature and the potential of our cortex connections in our brain have to inform our actions if we would activate them by feeding the appropriate experiences. Joanne Macey, who is an exponent takes about pain, by which she the pain that we human feel and not the “pain” experienced by the planet. The planetary pain will be felt by all its sentient creatures, including humans, but given our cultural blinkers and our alienation we habitually turn away from our selves and the pain of others, as if we were without imaginative understanding and perception. Here is Joanne Macey on the Great Turning:
The surprise finding is that even an economist can talk in spiritual terms, but also in terms of economic and political reorganization. David Korten is the author of The Great Turning:
The problem with the climate crisis is the lack of time, and the lack of sense of urgency in which the media plays its significant role. Commercial media is dominated by the success of the public relations manipulators play upon our ignorance of scientific matters and lull us to sleep with spurious wants and other distractions.
Scientists such as Dr James Henson, perhaps in desperation, have sought to appeal to leaders with the engaging possibility of tipping points. If we, through leadership and the support of public opinion, were able to push the coal bucket hard enough, we would be joined by others doing the same thing, and the combined effort would suddenly become easy, and the climate could be saved.
The critical issue is not the problem but the time frame. Consciousness must lead events rather than follow them, which if we as human beings are to succeed would something new in history. The lack of critical mass in consciousness may make the discovery of tipping points irrelevant.
I suppose the next critical issue, once the tipping point of climate change is discovered and leveraged, is that we as a planetary community cannot continue as we have been to have a sustainable future. To change a culture is no small thing since it requires a change in mass consciousness, but is it impossible? The constructive thing to do is to map out the best, or optimal, path to follow that could work.
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