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The Scientific and Religious Minds Revisited

Meditations – As Einstein discovered, matter is actually a dense form of energy, which can be converted into pure energy–the basis of nuclear fission and fusion. Thought is perhaps the densest form of matter, which is why conditioning, once set, is so hard to transmute.

illumination 1However when thought is completely quiet in the brain (including the gyrations of the emotions), one feels, to some degree, the energy of the universe.

Since there is no duality between matter and energy, for the illumined person there may well be no difference inwardly. Is illumination when the human brain is completely transparent to the energy of the universe?

In considering the nature of so-called mystical experiences, one has to find out whether such events are supernatural, or rationally understandable. That’s difficult to do, because the very term mystical has a negative connotation, implying something at odds with reason and science.

However that’s just a way of dismissing and marginalizing what isn’t understood and valued, in the same way believers did (and still do) with scientific discoveries that run counter to their beliefs.

Though the term ‘mystical experience’ is very loaded, it refers to an event, new and different each time but essentially the same, which occurs in the minds/brains of human beings in nearly every culture throughout the ages.

Has the shallow secular mind become as prejudiced against the genuinely religious mind in the age of science as the falsely religious mind was prejudiced against science in the age of religion?illumination

In actuality, there is no conflict between the scientific mind and the religious mind, as long as both are understood correctly.

Science is an approach, methodology, and body of testable knowledge, which describes any and all processes in nature and the universe. The religious mind however, is not a function of knowledge and repeatable experience at all, but of experiencing the wholeness and sacredness of life anew each day.

Science solves mysteries, but if in the process it destroys humanity’s capacity to feel wonder in the face of the infinite mystery of life, it does more harm than good, and serves the forces in human consciousness that darken the mind and heart.

At some point, the need to explain mystical experiencing prevents it from happening. When the mind is still and in a state of negation (the basic quality of the meditative state), there is no attempt to explain anything.

Besides, a complete explanation of ‘mystical experience’ must elude us, because explanations are inherently partial, while experiencing is whole. But that’s true of science as well–knowledge can never be complete.

The religious mind understands complexity, but values simplicity; is capable of analysis, but knows when to stop analyzing; has the capacity for imagination, but sees that imagining prevents experiencing.

Negation in meditation is like a laser piercing through the accretions built up in memory by conditioning and experience. Is illumination the dissolution of the accretions of conditioning altogether?

illumination 2If so, illumination may take thousands of piercings by meditation, or just one.  Irrespective of previous lives, one can fall a long way down the mountain, as I can attest. However since each experiencing of wholeness and piercing of insight is new, there’s always just this one, whether it creates a breakthrough not.

Overlooking the hills and fields beyond town, I watch a stupendous display of color. It begins slowly, filling the eastern sky in a muted mauve counter-sunset.

A diffused purplish hue extends and intensifies over the hills and canyon a few miles away. A completely different color grows in the striated clouds to the west, over the point of the sun’s departure on this day.

At first the color is orange tinged with yellow, but then, as the counter-sunset deepens to magenta and quickly fades, the sky to the west is set ablaze.

A falcon flies in at right angles and lands high in the branches of the sycamore overhead. The filtering and interpreting mechanisms of thought, born of images, words and memories, fall silent, shocked into stillness by the overwhelming beauty of the entire scene.

Even as it seems the color could not grow more intense, the clouds over the unseen sun explode in orange-red striations, with the most delicate blue between the vibrant bands. The color becomes extremely concentrated, with the radiance of a billion bonfires.

I sit transfixed as the quickening color fades after gathering into a single brilliant band visible between the trees along the horizon, a concentration of creation, of life, and of death.

A thin line of lavender is all that remains as I ride the bike back. Feeling enrapt and reverential, a flock of Canadian geese fly low overhead, low enough to hear their wings cutting through the air below the sounds of their honking.

Martin LeFevre

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