I love science- the way it pries open the mind, the way it reveals the marbling of connection that courses through world like a vein of sparkling ore running deep through a mountain, the way it points to a destination without ever quite arriving. When- after digging through the till, sifting, examining, illuminating, testing, and finally conceding the point- we admit our befuddlement, and we dare to ask the types of questions our previous world concept couldn’t bear, sometimes, we are rewarded with the lightning strike of understanding. A hidden logic, embedded in the world, flashes across our consciousness. A deeper order is revealed. We realize the world is not what we had once envisioned it to be. Meaning emerges as a palpable sensation, a field of goose bumps, a brush with the electrically charged skin of Mystery.
This is the beauty and the glory of science. After years of patience, longsuffering efforts, trials and error, keen observation and highly creative, abstract thinking, this is the reward- a moment of discovery and revelation that changes our view of the world, or some slice of it, forever. To hypothesize the existence of an order lurking behind the scenes that no one prior would have dared to imagine existed, and then to find it- to witness one’s ideas unfolding before you, in the indomitable language of Nature- is to share a secret with Nature, to have whispered back and forth with Her. This conversation tickles the very core of who we are.
I love science, but part of my journey as a person has been to fathom out it’s place in the hierarchy of my own thought. For the practitioner, science is the study of measurable things- of matter and energy and the ways they combine and interact. As a being, however, I have found that I can only make sense of myself as an immeasurable, born of and forever living within, The One Whole Vast and Never Ending Immeasurable. I have found I can only make sense of the physical world in the context of its being an artifact, a residue continuously born of the undefinable singularity- the hive of all Possibility- that is the Immeasurable.
Jesus captures this viewpoint beautifully in A Course of Love, when he says, “All that you now see are but symbols of what is really there before you, in glory beyond your deepest imaginings. Yet you persist in wanting only what your eyes can see and hands can hold. You call these things real, and all else unreal.” This is a fundamental misperception, however- an unnecessary restriction on our definition of what is Real. Jesus also says, “To truly see is to begin to see the formless. To begin to see the formless is to begin to understand what you are.”
What does this mean for my love of science? What is the relationship of the reality of form to the Reality of Formlessness? For myself, I see my immeasurability as the truth of who I am, of who we are, and the measurables as the clay we are sculpting, the language we are speaking, the transitory phenomena that make the invisible, visible. I think largely we are fooled, however, by the incredible, (inhuman?) precision and repeatability of particular patterns or ordered laws of nature into believing the physical world is the fundamental level of order on which all others are based, perhaps because we think, “Nothing that is the product of volition, intelligence, or desire could be so trustworthy, so complexly beautiful, so simultaneously indecipherable and obvious…” This conclusion is but a reflection of our incorrect assessment of the steadfastness and vastness of the ground of being on which all reality is based. It is a reflection of our incorrect assessment of what it means to be human, and to dwell in a land of Ideas.
Were I called to the carpet to demonstrate the way a motive Formlessness orders the domain of the material, there wouldn’t perhaps be any clear evidence for the existence of the proverbial magic wand. I could speak of Jesus until the cows came home, of what I have seen in the places in my life when nobody else was looking, but put me in front of a room full of people and dare me to transform a pitcher of water into wine, and well… you know… Detractors would construct straw man tests such as these and beg of me to levitate wooden blocks with my mind, or heal the terminally ill at my leisure. Were these requests not met, would my position be untenable? Would it be illogical?
Why, when those who have used all power given unto them to experience powerlessness are given what they have desired, do they insist it proves there is no power? As any scientist should know, no experiments fail- they simply reveal how a particular set of conditions unfolded. Were all of the conditions known? Perhaps not. Said another way, have all of the mechanisms and variables of the Universe been elucidated? Clearly not. We are not, ourselves, extractable from the milieux of phenomena we call reality, from the needs both called for and met by the confluence of matter and energy in any particular wedge of time and space. Furthermore, the needless rift between form and formlessness has yet to be fully healed. While the relationship between the two remains only tenuously grasped, how could we fully realize the possibilities inherent within it?
We continue to be faced with a Mystery- both within and without. My love of science is implicit to my love of being, but it does not eclipse it. When I read statements such as this, from Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine, whose work tickles my soul, my smile wanes into a cringe. It is, for me, one step too far. In his book The End of Certainty, he writes, “We see that human creativity and innovation can be understood as the amplification of laws of nature already present in physics or chemistry.” The amplification?
(At the same time, please know that Prigogine’s work, and that of his colleagues, is profoundly inspiring to me. This is the paradox.)
This is, for me, where science oversteps. I see in the laws of nature echoes of what is real, finite symbols of what is infinite, reflections that cannot help but remind us of what is true and forever existing “behind the scenes”- (perhaps “incarnating within the scenes”)? There is a myth in science- the quest for a Theory of Everything- that I think echoes our own desire to be complete and whole as fragmentary, finite personalities. We wish to know who we are, as individuals, separate from the whole, because we think it is possible for us to answer the question of who we are once and for all, to end our confusion, and to live in the land of reliability. We never arrive there, however, without accepting that Mystery lies at the heart of who we are, without discovering in our individuality the Whole, and discovering in and as the Whole that only in the embrace of the Formlessness at our core can we ever find the certainty we seek.
I see in science a symbol of this same dilemma, a reenactment of this drama, and I wonder, how much more beautiful would science be, were it to give up on the notion of reaching completion, of ever possessing a Theory of Everything to wield like a wand? Is this not a Fool’s Errand? What would it show us were it to embrace the notion that discoveries will continue forever, unabated. I wonder how much more beautiful it would be if we recognized in the symbols of Nature the words of an unending dialogue we are having with ourselves, about who we are, and who we desire to be? I wonder what would be possible if we didn’t allow our science to determine the boundaries of our experience, but saw instead within it’s historical unfolding the irrefutable evidence of the fact that we have absolutely no idea… what… will happen… Next…