Science – The Ascent of Humanity
(excerpts from JOHN WHITE, The Meeting of Science and Spirit, 1979)
THERE IS ONLY GOD.
EVERYTHING is an expression of GOD, albeit often in forms which are seemingly far removed from, and even horrible distortions of, the one great Being. At the heart of all things, however, is a spark, an impulse, a sense of the Divine…
The long evolutionary ascent of the human species can be described thus far as a journey from a state of unconscious ignorance to conscious knowing, from nescience to science.
At this point in our history humanity is characterized by a state of consciousness called ego. But if evolution is still going on, what might come next in our journey? From a spiritual perspective, the answer is clear: The purpose of the human journey is to regain heaven, our lost estate. Heaven is union with God. Its opposite, hell, is separation from God – or, since everything is a form of God and nothing is ever truly separate from God, the illusion of separateness. The difference between heaven and hell is measured not in units of distance but in degrees of self-transcendence.
The self to be transcended is ego. What is ego? It is essentially bound consciousness. It is the notion of separate selfhood, personal autonomy, independence from the nurturing matrix of society and environment which support individualized life. It is limited identity. It is self-conceived as being apart from God or Ultimate Reality or Cosmic Wholeness. Thus, the ego – the illusion of separate self – is hell. And thus, also, if the egoic state of consciousness characterizes present human affairs, it is not inaccurate to say that Earth is a living hell created by ourselves – our separate selves, our self-separation from God. The illusion of separate selfhood is precisely what has brought humanity to its present predicament. Every aspect of society is tainted, corrupted, and fallen from grace, from the natural state of harmony and nonsuffering which plants and animals demonstrate. The threats to life on the planet are all direct expressions of Man’s ego.
But society per se, society in itself as an evolutionary development, is not evil or corrupt. Rather, it is the consciousness of people who create and constitute society which is the ultimate source of our living hell. Earth could be a living heaven is the consciousness of people were transformed.
That is where science can be most beneficial. Although ego is not the ultimate state of self-identity for people, it is nevertheless an all-important one. It is the critical point at which we, as an evolutionary experiment in the great theatre of Nature, may self-destruct or move forward to a transegoic condition which fulfills the cosmic calling we humans have. If we, as a separate species, can transcend ego, every aspect of human life will be transformed through the recognition of its inner, hidden nature – as a form of God.
Science, too, is a form of God. At the moment, it is an egoic form, which means it has the potential for self-unfoldment and transformation but is presently not acting in accord with that potential. It is “godless” because its philosophy allows no place for morality or theological causation. It is also “materialistic” because its perspective is by definition focused on the physical nature of the universe.
Now it is a feature of the spiritual process that ego-transcendence cannot occur until there is first an ego to be transcended. In the process of ego formation, certain powers and abilities emerge. Ego is the anchor, the fixed point to which latent abilities become tied in place for action. Considered that way, ego is ultimately a gift from God for our spiritual development. But its value becomes understandable only from the far side of the process, only beyond ego. In the words of transpersonal psychologist Dane Rudhyar, author of The Planetarization of Consciousness:
The process of formation of the ego is … a very necessary feature in the full development of man’s potentialities, but the ego is a means to an end, and not the end in itself…. The role of the ego could be at least partially illustrated by considering this ego as the “scaffolding” needed to build, say, a soaring temple. This scaffolding is necessary for the adequate, timely, and efficient transportation of the building materials to where they belong…but once the temple is completed, the scaffolding should be dismantled and its materials used for other purposes.
Prior to the emergence of the egoic state of consciousness in humanity, people were still embedded in nature. They functioned with a sense of identity which was essentially defined by the tribe, clan, or social group. This is seen clearly in so-called primitive peoples today. At the time of humanity’s ego-emergence, however, the feeling of identity with the naturic realm disappeared. As the individualized self-sense solidified in humanity, people developed a sense of personal autonomy – a power to function for themselves rather than the group. A tendency developed to act upon the nature rather than in nature or in harmony with nature.
With the development of egoic consciousness also came new mental faculties, notably ratiocination or the ability to think in analytical-conceptual terms which “stood on their own” free from the need to be referred to “the gods” or some external authority for validation. People began to think for themselves. A tendency developed to question the operation of things which were now perceived as being apart from people, outside their own sphere of consciousness.
The fruition of that tendency to act upon nature, coupled with the faculty of ratiocination, became, over millennia, science.
Science is therefore a powerful expression of the ego. The hallmark of ego is the desire for self-aggrandizement, the desire to play God and create the cosmos in its image rather than recognize the prior existence of God as its very source of being. It is the familiar pursuit of domination and control over all others. The scientific urge for omniscience and omnipotence is all too obvious. But the inherent limitations of ego-based power and understanding bring it to conditions beyond its control and understanding, and thus suffering arises. Suffering is the means by which consciousness becomes aware of its egoically conceived identity and sees through the illusion of separate self.
Precisely that process has been at work in science. The hallmark of science is to dominate and control nature. Technologically, the principal expression of science, is essentially an extension of human powers. But that expansion, despite its awesome achievements, has now begun to rebound upon us in the form of critical world conditions – military and ecological – which threaten our very existence and promise not happiness but suffering in the extremen.
The situation has forced science to step outside its limited purview and take a larger look at itself and the universe. Science in its best form is a powerful means of probing the universe and testing the nature of reality. That in turn feeds back into the processes by which we humans seek to know ourselves and the world, thereby clarifying our understanding and refining our awareness. As we examine our existence ever more deeply, gaining knowledge and power, the scientific process helps take us beyond ourselves – our limited, egoic selves.
Rightly understood, then, science is part of the process by which Spirit is shaping humanity and helping it ascend to godhood. Science is both an expression of evolution and a means for furthering the evolutionary process. That process has now reached a point where, for the first time, Man has the power to begin directing iot. As evolutionary anthropologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin phrases it, “the psychic temperature is coming to a boiling point.” Science can buffer nature’s influence on evolution while enhancing our own capabilities and choices. Yet science is a mixed blessing. It offers tremendous potential for human betterment but is not consistently used for that purpose. As always, it is consciousness which is of primary influence. If the consciousness of scientists and those who apply science were expanded beyond ego, the world situation would change radically. The power of science would remain, but its use would be purified.
When the truth about the hidden side of the universe and of man is once more unveiled, demonstrated so far as it can be in a scientific and rational manner, the new scientific findings will stagger the most powerful intellects. We shall then build a pillar of higher wisdom which shall rise up into a new and finer age, and we shall testify anew to those eternal spiritual truths which no advancement of science, no progress of civilization, no lapse in human character, can ever render obsolete. (Paul Brunton in his The Secret Path)