Continued from Stuck? 8 Scientific and Spiritual Practice. This is the final post of the series, preenting the conclusion of the original paper.
I began by describing my own growing up, embedded in the materialistic dream that science has been a willing accomplice in imposing for hundreds of years. Mine is one of the last generations in the West to live the dream.
Analogous to my own experience, I suggested that we need to collectively embrace our spiritual potential – growing beyond our current Level of Being and gaining the wisdom to save our world. Failing which it will surely fall apart in crisis and conflict. Either way, the dream is over.
We need a new story of our place in the universe and what Thomas Berry calls the Great Work[i] we are called to achieve at this critical period in history – “to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner”.
A new dream of resolving the world crisis through the spiritual growth of humanity is surely so powerful that, once understood, many will join its cause. Indeed, understanding of the need brings responsibility for helping to make it happen. The evidence of Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson’s research[ii] suggests that millions of ‘cultural creatives’ are already engaged in the task. We may not be far from the ‘hundredth monkey’ effect [iii] when our common perception is changed, the Berlin Wall of materialism tumbles, and we later wonder what all the fuss was about!
The young adult emerging from a future education system will be comfortable with both science and spirituality, recognising their roles and their potential through models such as the Levels of Being and the Four Fields of Knowledge. They may choose to engage in science, still an important field of endeavour, with full understanding of the limitations of the stance of ‘objectivity’. And they will choose some sort of spiritual path, perhaps from a myriad of forms and guides available, eventually growing to become just their true spiritual selves.
2023 reflection: I believe that we have made progress over the twenty years since my original paper, but we still have a long way to go!
[i] See The Great Work, Thomas Berry
[ii] See The Cultural Creatives, Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson.
[iii] In a Japanese study in 1952 the knowledge of how to wash sweet potatoes was invented by one monkey, spread to a number of individuals, and then suddenly they could all do it. I was recently reminded of this in The Prophet, Thom Hartmann.