Coffee and Conventional Wisdom

Rising early this morning, feeling a twinge of sadness for some reason, I decided to attempt to penetrate the haze in my mind and attend to something productive anyway. I shuffled off to the kitchen, barely able to see, and started the morning routine of filling the coffee pot. It struck me as I did so that I had done this so often now, it had become nearly automatic. Yet, it still requires my immediate attention and concentration, even though it is at a reasonably minimal level. Once the chamber had been filled with water, and the coffee in the filter had been placed in its holder, I pressed the button on the front and set the carafe on the hot plate below the dripping stream of coffee. Occasionally, the coffee would drip too slowly at first and be siphoned off its normal path causing havoc, but this morning it went well and I decided to consider it a good sign.

Next on the list of essential matters was the consumption of six hundred milligrams of ibuprofen, which I washed down with my breakfast drink, hoping to mitigate the aching in my body, although even as I consumed the analgesic I knew that the ache in my heart and soul was far more formidable, and far less likely to be susceptible to the effects of the ibuprofen, but there was no pill I could take for that.

Instead, I decided to continue the review of my journals from the past few years, in order to assist me in formalizing my current thoughts to include a degree of perspective that current wisdom seems to fall short on. As is sometimes the case, every so often I come across an entry that stimulates my heart and mind in a way that surprises me. One such passage spoke first to how I felt strongly that my reading was guiding me toward some revelation in my investigations, and a second which included my report of an intuition that dreams were more than synaptic firing in the brain, but rather:

“An interaction of the physical structure of the brain with a non-experiential reality only accessible through what we describe as the subconscious…physically manifested symptoms of a transcendent energy flow.”

I go on to suggest that while dreaming, an individual may be “transitioning” to “non-experiential states,” and the energy within the transitional field may be required to flow through “the buffer of the subconscious,” since our daily waking consciousness cannot assimilate it directly. Jung spoke often of assimilating unconscious contents:

“In the process of individuation, the heroic task is to assimilate unconscious contents as opposed to being overwhelmed by them. The potential result is the release of energy that has been tied up with unconscious complexes.”–excerpt from JUNG LEXICON: A Primer of Terms & Concepts by Daryl Sharp

It’s clear to me now, as I read through these entries that I have been exploring these ideas as a means to arrive at some understanding and greater appreciation of my own experiential reality, which has always felt more like a manifestation of a much more complex symbiosis.

A recent exchange with several prominent thinkers in the world at large brought at least an acknowledgement of my existence, but the larger issue of a meaningful exchange between people of widely different viewpoints remains a difficult proposition. Scientists in particular have to consider what might happen to their reputation and status amongst their peers if they suddenly appeared sympathetic to individuals pondering explanations rooted in any sort of “mystical” or “metaphysical” realm. While many such thinkers who actually ARE willing to consider ideas of this sort, who are sincere and disciplined in their areas of study, and who propose ideas rooted in scholarly pursuits, any suggestion that consciousness might have essential components or aspects beyond the reach of science, or which even suggest a source or possible causal link to anything beyond the temporal boundaries of mind and brain, are generally met with either stoic silence or superficially polite acknowledgement.

There is one exceptional scientist in our 21st century who has repeatedly taken bold steps to counter this persistent resistance. His name is Rupert Sheldrake, and I have had the good fortune to encounter several of his most important contributions to the broadening of our scientific worldview over the years, but my recent encounter with his latest book, “The Science Delusion,” has given me even greater respect for his incomparable talent for arguing in favor of loosening the constrictions of modern day scientific dogma. In this brief excerpt from an article he wrote describing his book on the Cygnus Books website, he captures the essential theme of his book:

“In The Science Delusion, I argue that science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The biggest delusion of all is that science already knows the answers. The details still need working out, but the fundamental questions are settled, in principle.

Contemporary science is based on the philosophy of materialism, which claims that all reality is material or physical. There is no reality but material reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.

These beliefs are powerful not because most scientists think about them critically, but because they don’t. The facts of science are real enough, and so are the techniques that scientists use, and so are the technologies based on them. But the belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a nineteenth century ideology.” – © 2011 Rupert Sheldrake

Many of the empirically-minded thinkers will emphasize the limited usefulness of ideas that are not testable by experiment, validated by proofs, or verified through examination of brain activity using the latest scanning technologies of neuroscience. What has always struck me about this approach is how little consideration is given to actually “thinking” about what all the experiments, proofs, and examinations which do take place are ultimately revealing. The implications of nearly every scientific undertaking infer that there are layers to our existence in the temporal world. (Existence is stratified!)

(Image credit: CERN / Lucas Taylor, via simulation.)

There are a great many phenomena contributing to our experience of the world, and many of them are not observable except through extremely sophisticated methodology which often only infers the results of the experiments which produce them. We must descend through nearly invisible layers of matter to determine the molecular structure of the elements. Our most cutting-edge technologies in physics have revealed the theoretical existence of particles or wave structures so far below the perceptual limits of our senses, that it defies the limits of credulity for most observers to suggest that we could do more than infer their existence.

Since the beginning of my process of documenting my journey of discovery and enrichment of my inner world, my journals have gradually included many more empirical sources, and I have been giving serious consideration to the viewpoints of those who do not necessarily share my enthusiasm for inclusion of elements that are currently outside of empirical scrutiny. Many of the entries are directly related to my ongoing research to come to terms with the ineffable nature of human consciousness, but occasionally portions of my personal life and side trips through interesting books and articles appear, illuminating the complex process of assimilation of the many layers that contribute to our understanding of all things.

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