Midweek Mysticism: The Ideal Universe
The physical world we know is part of a continuum of existence based on consciousness — or Spirit, if you prefer, which is the same thing.
Once we accept that consciousness precedes and creates matter, and it’s surprising that many don’t, all then is consciousness. At that point, mind is experienced as matter, the familiar state of human consciousness.
Ancient Celts believed death to be a passing through a mere cobweb into another realm, another form of life. Many other civilisations had similar beliefs and still do.
Unfortunately, science has become a militant materialist philosophy that believes matter precedes mind. For example, without a physical brain there is no awareness of anything, contrary to what mystics report.
Some scientists have even called consciousness “a disease of matter,” an interloper in a senseless universe. This view is the complete opposite of what a majority of the greatest minds throughout history have believed.
The Perennial Philosophy, as it has been called — that mind gives rise to matter — is still accepted by the larger part of the human race. Pope John Paul II was taught it in his youth by a Rosicrucian master. Following a car accident which nearly killed him, he had a spiritual experience which mirrored exactly what the teacher had said. Such was its overwhelming power, the young mystical Pole signed up for a seminary that led all the way to his becoming Pope in Rome.
The Rosicrucians (followers of the Rosy Cross) teach the age-old knowledge of idealism, that all is mind, in a Christian setting. It is said that there are 20 miles of books in the Vatican library dedicated to this and similar points of view. Quantum mechanics comes close to idealism without quite letting go of the materialist base of science.
The vision of man’s ancient understanding of the universe lives on and thrives. As well as Albert Einstein, the British astronomer James Jeans believed that, “the universe is nothing but a gigantic thought”. Isaac Newton spent most of his life studying aspects of it, so did C. G. Jung, the great Swiss joint-founder of psychology as we know it.
Buddhism and Hinduism are based on it, as are most religions. Christianity, whose early exponents were Gnostics, a term meaning knowers, as opposed to believers, sought, and many found, direct experience of the secret knowledge that mind creates matter, and not the other way round.
If you think about it, it’s very logical. Imagine a brick developing a mind — only in a Disney cartoon!
The Victorian writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, had much to say on the subject in his 1842 lecture The Transcendentalist: “As thinkers, mankind has ever divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists; the first class founded on experience, the second on consciousness. … Every materialist will be an idealist; but an idealist can never go backward to be a materialist. … In the order of thought, the materialist takes his departure from the external world and esteems a man as one product of that. The idealist takes his departure from his consciousness, and reckons the world an appearance.”
Emerson was a thoroughgoing idealist. He belonged to a group in Concord, Massachusetts called The Transcendentalists. The writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau was also a member. They published a magazine called The Dial, devoted to the transcendental and idealism.
Let’s pull together some quotations to assemble a framework for action:
The philosopher, Rudolph Eucken wrote: “Man is the meeting point of various stages of reality.” — the implication being that it’s only by apprehending those stages of reality that we really know who and what we are.
In The Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is depicted saying: “See [or know] what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.” — pure mystical gold.
The Buddhist Dhammapada states: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein concluded: “It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.” – echoing The Epistle of Privy Counsel.
Finally, Albert Einstein: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
To live like an immortal you must recognize that, although your body will die, together with your present identity as xxxx yyyyy, a part of you – traditionally called the soul – lives on.
Our present state of being is not some sort of punishment, but an existence at, for us, the cutting edge of the evolution of consciousness. At the heart of it all lies Meister Eckhart’s insight, “The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me.”
Traditionally, our task here is to develop the skills to look back at the unity of being and allow the whole to recognise itself. We become the eyes and ears of God – “It is not you who lives, but I who live in you.”
That is the extraordinary task assigned to humanity.
To be published: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com