A World Mind in Conflict
If we want to find the source for what ails the human mind — and by that I mean the world at large — it is that our mind, on the most fundamental level, is deeply in conflict. Finding the source for an ailment is the key to curing it, whether the ailment is a sore from a splinter or a world-mind in conflict.
The conflict is that we are living precariously balanced between two incompatible worldviews: the world as machine and the world as spirit. And science, the leading architect of our worldview, knows the world-as-machine model is wrong, but it is not quite ready to advertise this fact.
By “world-mind,” I mean our modern mindset, also known as the scientific worldview. The reason why this worldview is important is because it is the most fundamental lens through which we see the world; it filters everything else we see, touch, hear, smell, and feel. For example, as I explain more fully in my book, The Collapse of Materialism: Visions of Science, Dreams of God, the current scientific worldview is based upon materialism, the notion that ultimate reality is a mindless particle, that life has no purpose or direction, and that there is no connection between mind and the outer world. With this lens inserted firmly in our viewfinder, we are led to imagine that a cataclysmic explosion of matter, space, and time (the Big Bang) exploded far out in the cosmos and came toward us. In the material science worldview, a universe bursting with life arose from this primordial explosion and consciousness (or mind) from matter. In sum, in the materialist worldview, matter comes first, then mind.
The odd thing about this set-up is that it actually is a by-product of what scientist call their “first principles.” This is how the late Harvard biologist, Ernst Mayr put it, “Despite the openness of science to new facts and hypotheses, it must be said that virtually all scientists — somewhat like theologians — bring a set of what we might call “first principles” with them to the study of the natural world. One of these is the axiomatic assumption that there is a real world independent of human perceptions.” What Professor Mayr meant is that scientists believe that in order to practice science, they must assume the existence of a free-standing world independent of the mind.
Now this seems like a deep and heavy philosophical principle. Who can ever doubt that a real world independent of us really exists?
But this is where the conflict comes in.
At the same time that the entire edifice of what we know as science preaches that a real world, independent of the mind must exist, other braver, and more candid scientists are starting to point out that under the principles of quantum theory, there is no such independent world.
Bernard D’Espagnet’s statement, in the 1979 edition of Scientific American, expresses this conflict succinctly, “The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.”
In his article, The Mental Universe, which appeared in the July 2005 edition of the prestigious science magazine, Nature, Professor Richard Conn Henry, of The Johns Hopkins University (who I interviewed on my radio show on August 25, 2014), shows that quantum theory leads inexorably to the conclusion that the “universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual.” There is no such mind-independent world. Instead, the eastern thinkers were right, the world is an illusion, but, and this is the important point, an illusion we share and participate in.
A greater conflict would be difficult to imagine: one group of scientists tell us we must assume a mind-independent world to even practice science; another group tells us no such independent world exists.
And this is not just some sort of intellectual or philosophical debate. If the world is a projection of inner states as opposed to a machine that determines our inner states, then the key to mastering the world is by improving our inner states, also know as the human spirit.
If we rid ourselves of the notion that a real world exists independently of the human mind, then that must mean the world is a projection of the mind; if that is true, we must share the same mind since we share the same projection or dream. We are taking part in the same story. So Shakespeare right was right after all, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
To resolve the conflict in the world-mind, we must tear down the scientific assumption that there is a “real world independent of human perception.” This is an assumption that has outlived its usefulness. We must stop dividing our energy between the world out-there, and the world in-here. We are not spirits imprisoned in machines, but spirits who mistakenly believe we are imprisoned in machines. Rather, the world out-there is a product of the inner world of spirit. Once we accept this thought, and understand its reach, we can then start building a world that truly reflects the highest visions of the dreaming mind — perhaps even a heaven on earth.