The Ground of
Science Mysticism and Experience
and the Many
Our Guest writer:
John Williamson "So it is
not surprising that in our scientifically sophisticated world many
have experiences that can’t be proved scientifically. There are
who regard all stories of supernatural experience as the product of
a distorted mind or
imagination". Read his article on
together' The Ground
from which religions
and philosophies grow.
open to Spirit, sing in harmony
Prayer, Psalm, Martin Buber
Teilhard de Chardin
and Islamic Ummah (fromThe Guardian)
This journal is
to those of us who have faith in a creative Spirit, in all, through
all, and above all, whether or not we would agree to be called
Buddhists, Jews, members of Islam, or whatever.
Let us not quarrel about names of this Spirit, or about
theologies. We have faith, we have experienced the numinous,
the presence of That which is greater than ourselves.
We may have come to Faith by ourselves, or as
members of churches, mosques, synagogues or temples. We may have been
inspired by our holy books, our traditions, or by shared worship with
other devout people. From our communities of faith we have
a religious language with which to think about Spirit, taken part
in rituals that help us focus on Spirit. We need these
of faith because experience of Spirit also involves relating to other
people, and the rest of existence.
Ultimately we must agree
that all these communities of faith are founded on the direct
of Spirit, with the Ground of our being. We know that it is absurd
to say that that Ground, that God, that Spirit, is Christian, Buddhist,
etc. This indeed is what we all have in common, this
with this Ground from which all faith, all religion, all
all life grows.
In considering this direct relationship, this journal
affirms the unity of science, mysticism and experience.
Let's think about this.
Science is a methodology, a way of
classifying and discovering how things work. Scientific findings are
for challenge, in the light of new discoveries.
Philosophy is different. It is about our beliefs
about the fundamental nature of things.
The old mechanist and reductionist
looking to Descartes and Newton, has served science well, when studying
the not-too-big and the not-too-small. But Quantum
Mechanics, with great theorists such as Einstein, Planck, Bohr,
Pauli, Bohm and many others, have shown that the old philosophy
is insufficient. They show that when we consider the very big and
the very small we are constrained to hold a new philosophy that regards
the universe as a psychophysical continuum, existing in far more than
in only four dimensions.
considerable number of
QM theorists in fact are affirming the very basis of all religions.
Many of them
write on spirituality, meditation, synchronicity and meaningful
about consciousness, life after death, love, and the process of
They give insight into the function of prayer.
The great Christian (and other) mystics
also affirm what
the QM theorists affirm. .
TEILHARD DE CHARDIN
Toward a Science Charged with
Faith Chapter 5 of God and Science by Charles P. Henderson.
Excerpts from this chapter:
"Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
stands among the very few leaders of thought in this century to
pure scientific research with a religious vocation. At an early point
in his career this paleontologist and Jesuit priest made it his
mission to reconstruct the most basic Christian doctrines from the
perspectives of science and, at the same time, to reconstruct science
from the perspectives of faith. He would do this by overthrowing all
the barriers that had been erected between science and religion in
the past one hundred years. " Read
Brother David Steindl-Rast
After twelve years of monastic training and studies in
and theology, Brother David was sent by his abbot to participate
in Buddhist -Christian dialogue, for which he received Vatican approval
in 1967. His Zen teachers were Hakkuun Yasutani Roshi, Soen Nakagawa
Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He co-founded
the Center for Spiritual Studies in 1968 and received the 1975 Martin
Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious
Together with Thomas Merton, Brother David helped launch a renewal
of religious life. From 1970 on, he became a leading figure in the
House of Prayer movement, which affected some 200,000 members of
orders in the United States and Canada. Read
[Einstein's book The World As I See
It. In this edition (Philosophical Library, New York, 1949), the
essay appears on pp. 28-29].
On religion and science
"You will hardly find one among the profounder
sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his
own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man.
For the latter God is a being from whose care one hopes to
and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar
to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some
extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with
awe. But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal
The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the
past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human
affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous
amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an
of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking
and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.
This feeling is the guiding principle of his life
and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles
of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that
which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.
A saint for our time?
by Jillian Becker
Read the article! (Here are
"August 23, 2002, will be the fifty-ninth
anniversary of the death of Simone Weil, a French Jew revered by many
Christians as an uncanonized saint. Exegetes of diverse faiths (and
none) have written at length about her mystical meditations.
André Gide declared her “the most spiritual writer of this
[twentieth] century.” Albert Camus called her “the only
of our time.” "
"She refused baptism a number of times, the last as she lay dying.
She regarded herself, however, as a true Christian, too true, by her
own understanding, to become a member of the Catholic Church
(the only existing church to which she felt drawn). She felt she could
be “faithful to Christ” without being a member of the
even more so because she was outside it. “A few sheep
remain outside the fold to bear witness that the love of Christ is
essentially something different.” "
"Let us consider this. Here was a well-provided-for, well-educated
young woman who freely chose to regard herself as a slave and to
herself to death while war raged, hungry children helplessly wasted
away in the streets of the Warsaw ghetto, the living skeletons of
actual slaves dropped into the dust at Bergen-Belsen, and human bodies
were consumed night and day in the ovens of Auschwitz- Birkenau.
The young woman in question was a thinker and writer respected
even in her own time by intellectuals and leaders of opinion,
but she said nothing about these atrocities. She let herself die in
1943 when millions of her fellow Jews were being murdered in
the name of the “final solution of the Jewish question,”
and she who
claimed to feel a deep sympathy with the afflicted and even a longing
to bear their suffering for them protested only against being classed
as one of them. If Fiedler is right that Simone Weil epitomizes the
moral ideals of our time, then we are morally adrift in an era of
The binocular vision of the One and the Many
You and I live our separate lives,
work with other people, live with our families, come with other people
to church, and pray for others and for ourselves. We
are the MANY, "all children of God."
living in the normal world of see and touch, of cause and effect,
of this and that. And most science has to do with this normal world.
and QM physicists have
to do with an alternative reality, the ONE.
The mystic goes up to a mountain top, surveys the starry
sky and the dark plains below, and feels One with the universe, One
with God, One with the world. Mystics feel lifted out of them-
selves, into union with all that is.
Most of us have had similar experiences.
The QM physicist understands All-That-Is
a psychophysical whole, where all affects all else. There is no local
cause and effect. This view also belongs to the whole. The QM physicist
talks about the void, the supposed vacuum of space, talks about
beside those of space and time. The physicist thinks of mind as
to do with the whole. Very abstract and hard to understand, but
a reality where prayer and wider orders of consciousness have their
PHYSICISTS & MYSTICS SING IN HARMONY.
physicist, David Bohm: "..it will ultimately be misleading
and indeed wrong to suppose, for example, that each human being is
an independant actuality who interacts with other human beings and
with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality." Wholeness
and the Implicate Order, ARK ed. 1983, p. 210
A mystic: Simone Weil: "What is more beautiful than the
action of weight on the fugitive waves of the sea as fall in ever-
moving folds, or the almost eternal folds of the mountains. The sea is
less beautiful in our eyes because we know sometimes ships are wrecked.
On the contrary this adds to its beauty. If it altered the movement
of its waves to spare a boat, it would be a creature gifted with
ment and choice and not this fluid, perfectly obedient to every
pressure. It is this perfect obedience which constitutes the sea's
All the horrors which come about in this world are
like folds imposed upon the waves by gravity. That is why they contain
an element of beauty. Sometimes a poem such as the Iliad, brings this
beauty to light." Waiting on God, p72. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951.Read our feature on Simone Weil. Back...
Sir James Jeans (The universe is beginning to)
"look more like a great thought than a great machine": The
A Psychologist: Carl Jung wrote of reality as we perceive it as a
"dream of a greater, to us unknowable, consciousness."
Essay on Synchronicity
Sir Julian Huxley in summarising the thought of
the Jesuit mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, writes:
for certain limited purposes it may be useful to think of phenomena
as isolated statically in time, they are in point of fact never static:
they are always processes or parts of processes. The different branches
of science combine to demonstrate that the universe in its entirety
must be regarded as one gigantic process, a process of becoming, of
attaining new levels of existence and organisation, which can properly
be called a genesis or an evolution. For this reason, he uses words
like noogenesis, to mean the gradual evolution of the mind or mental
properties, and repeatedly stresses that we should no longer speak
of a cosmology but of a cosmogenesis. P.12 The
of Man Collins, 1951. Read our feature
on de Chardin
Prayer of St Stephen: "Lord, let me forget that I
am me, Let me know that I am with thee, Let me not separate myself from
thee Because I am me" The Stephen Experience,
Michael Cocks. Kelso 2001.
139: Lord you have searched me out and known me: you know
I sit down and when I stand up, you discern my thoughts from afar.
2. You mark my path, and the places where I rest: you are acquainted
with all my ways. 3 even before there is a word on my tongue: you
Lord know it altogether. 4. You guard me from behind and before: and
cover me with your hand. 5. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
so high that I cannot attain to it. 6 Where can I go from your spirit,
or where shall I flee from your presence? 7. If I climb up into heaven
you are there: if I make my bed in the grave you are there also. 8.
If I take the wings of the dawn and alight at the uttermost parts of
the sea, 9 even there your right hand will lead me: and your right hand
will hold me fast. 10. If I say 'Let the darkness cover me: and my
day be turned to night,' 11 the darkness is no darkness to you, but
the night is as clear as the day: for darkness and light to you are
An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.
God is the "mysterium tremendum," that appears and overthrows, but
he is also the mystery of the self-evident, nearer to me than my I.
The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the
embracing of one of its beings.
When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God
is the electricity that surges between them.
The ones who count are those persons who -- though they may be of
little renown -- respond to and are responsible for the continuation